GLAAD and Change.org have been at the forefront of the battle to get the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to rescind their ban on gay scouts and leaders. Change.org petitions signed by over one million people have denounced the Scouts’ anti-gay policy. Now, the Boy Scouts of America has released a statement that they are “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.”
And while the decision has not yet been made, many are optimistic.
“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training,” Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations for the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement:
“Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.
“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
And on their website, GLAAD responds:
“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”
“This would be an incredible step forward in the right direction,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality. “We look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in Scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well.”
“More than 1 million people have joined Change.org campaigns urging the Boy Scouts of America to end their national anti-gay policy, and today, those signers are celebrating a huge victory for people-powered change,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, Senior Campaign Manager at Change.org. “Jennifer Tyrrell, Zach Wahls, and Ryan Andresen have proven that long-standing institutions of discrimination are no match for cutting-edge online tools and powerful storytelling.”
“The pulse of equality is strong in America, and today it beats a bit faster with news that the Boy Scouts may finally put an end to its long history of discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “Our nation and its leaders respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, and it’s time the Boy Scouts echo those values.”
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
GLAAD also has a timeline of their work on the Boy Scouts issue.
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