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Look: LGBT Organizations — And Opponents — Respond To Boy Scouts Decision To Allow Gay Scouts

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The Boy Scouts of America‘s historic decision today, to allow gay scouts, although not gay adults, is another huge milestone in the march for equality.

RELATED:

Here’s The Complete Boy Scouts Historic Statement On Gays In Scouting

Breaking: Boy Scouts Vote To Drop Ban, Allow Gay Scouts

Here are reactions from both LGBT organizations and allies, and opponents to LGBT equality.

LGBT Orgs, for the most part, are pleased:

GLAAD

“Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end,” said GLAAD spokesperson, Rich Ferraro. “The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.”

A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the Boy Scouts’ plan to allow gay Scouts, with 56 percent in support of inclusive Scouting for gay parents and adults as well.

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 345,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and adult leaders.

“When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated.” said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who in April 2012, alongside GLAAD, reignited a national conversation about discrimination in Scouting after she was ousted as leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because she’s gay. “Having to look my son, Cruz, in the eye and tell him that our family isn’t good enough was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Today is truly a watershed moment for me, but even more so for the millions of kids across this country, who will now be allowed to serve in the Scouts without fear of rejection. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come, but until there’s a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue.”

More than 1.8 million people have joined Change.org petition campaigns since Tyrrell launched her first petition. Since that day, advocacy efforts and successful petition campaigns have recruited two Boy Scout board members — AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young CEO James Turley — to denounce the national anti-gay policy. GLAAD, together with Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality Zach Wahls, have also used Change.org petitions to pressure corporate donors such as the Intel Foundation and the UPS Foundation to pull funding until the Boy Scouts end their policy banning gay youth and parents. Last fall, a Bay Area mother named Karen Andresen petitioned her local Boy Scout council to honor her son Ryan with an Eagle Award that was denied to him when the Scout came out as gay. An official Eagle Board of Review unanimously approved Ryan’s application for Eagle, but a Boy Scout executive ultimately rejected his application.

While today’s vote opens up Scouting for young men, it will not help Tyrrell or the countless other LGBT parents and families who wish to participate in Scouting. GLAAD will continue to keep the pressure on and fight for full equality.

“This is an historic day in the 103-year history of the Boy Scouts of America — the day it finally found its moral compass and started down the long trail to equality in Scouting,” said former Kentucky father Greg Bourke, who was ousted as Scoutmaster of his son’s Boy Scouts troop because he is gay. “No longer will gay Boy Scouts have to hide their sexual orientation from fear of being criticized and ousted from the Boy Scout membership rolls.  That is definite progress, but even with this approved membership change, gay adults like Jennifer Tyrrell and myself will continue to be banned from serving in the Scouts, even in units with our own children.  There is no other word for that except ‘discrimination.'”

 

PFLAG

PFLAG National believes that, while the BSA has today taken a step in the right direction, the new policy is still, at its heart, discriminatory against our gay and lesbian loved ones.

Inclusion, by its very nature, cannot be selective: either you are a welcoming organization or you are not. In going halfway with this policy, the BSA suggests that their members are only capable of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous and kind until their 18th birthdays. Once taught, do these traits diminish or disappear once a child comes of age? Shouldn’t being a scout serve as the best training to then lead other scouts in the future? And for same-sex parents who want to participate as leaders in their children’s troops, should the message be that their commitment to their child’s scouting activities is suspect?

At PFLAG National, we are troubled by the message this sends to ALL youth and adults about what it means to be a truly inclusive organization. We hope that the BSA will quickly realize that the organization is still on the wrong side of history, and take the necessary step to do the right thing by ALL of its members, denying no person membership or a position in the scouts based solely on their sexual orientation.

 

HRC

“Today is a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “But the new policy doesn’t go far enough.  Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

“The Boy Scouts of America can do better,” said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality.  “We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn’t over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all.”

Unanswered in the new policy is the issue of employment discrimination by BSA.  Currently, the BSA job application for “professional commission” explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads:  “The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.” The full application can be viewed here.

Several major mental health organizations support lifting the anti-gay ban completely, including for Scout leaders and other adults.  Earlier this year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America declaring, in part, “[W]e call on you to end the ban for the betterment of all young men.  We urge you to recognize the importance of Scouts for all boys and the critical need for volunteer leaders, and end discrimination towards adult leaders based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”  For more than a decade, the American Medical Association has called the ban on gay Scouts potentially psychologically traumatizing.

In April 2012, Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell launched a Change.org petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its national ban on gay scouts, parents, and scout leaders after she was ousted as her son’s den leader because she is gay. She sparked a campaign led by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to advocate for an inclusive BSA, which has resulted in several corporate sponsors withholding funds as well as hundreds of celebrities, elected officials, scouts and religious institutions speaking out against the ban. In February of this year, GLAAD and Scouts for Equality delivered more than 1.4 million Change.org signatures to BSA headquarters with gay scouts and scouting families impacted by the ban.

 

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“This vote marks a monumental step forward for the Boy Scouts of America. We are thrilled for the gay youth who will no longer be turned away from scouting simply because of who they are. This milestone has been years in the making, and we thank all those who have fought so hard to end this grave injustice against our young people.

“As we celebrate this moment, we know the work isn’t complete. The Boy Scouts of America still discriminates against qualified adults who are denied the opportunity to participate in leadership positions because they are gay. Fairness is a fundamental American principle — it’s not to be sliced, diced, divvied up and dictated by prejudice. By retaining the discriminatory ban on gay adults, the Boy Scouts of America has signaled that this core value is up for grabs, that a level playing field remains out of reach, and that it’s still okay to target others for second-class treatment.

“Boy Scouts’ leadership should stop clinging to a policy of exclusion and scrap the ban, once and for all. It’s long past time for a fully inclusive Boy Scouts of America.”

 

Family Equality Council

“Every Boy Scout, on their honor, first pledges to do their best,” said Family Equality Council Spokesman Steve Majors.  “This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the best the Boy Scouts can do.  The Boy Scouts of America have sent a hurtful message to Scouts with LGBT parents that their moms and dads are not welcome as leaders alongside other parents.  As a father of two girl scouts and the proud partner of an Eagle Scout, I know that Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and the Boy Scouts should be open to all our families.”

“Let’s also not forget this decision also affects gay Scouts who will be prevented from serving as adult leaders,” added Majors.  “There is nothing honorable about discriminating against Scouts after they reach a certain age.  Family Equality Council remains proud of the work that Zach Wahls, our Outspoken Generation co-chair, and parents like Jennifer Tyrrell have done to change the hearts and minds of the Boy Scouts on this issue. We look forward to the day when Scouting becomes an institution equally open to all Americans.”

 

GLSEN

“Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay Scouts sends an important message to our nation’s youth. Youth organizations like the Boy Scouts can be significant forms of support for young people and it’s critical that these kinds of supports are available to everyone. Unfortunately, this issue will not rest until the Boy Scouts recognize that the exclusion of LGBT people from troop leadership is wrong-headed.”

 

Equality Florida

“While we applaud the fact that today’s vote will open the door for gay youth to participate openly and honestly in the BSA, it fails to meet the Scouts’ own standard of courage and leadership,” said Brian Winfield, Managing Director of Equality Florida. 

“Today’s policy change by the Boy Scouts of America means that three million same-sex parents will continue to be excluded from participating as scout leaders,” Winfield said. “Perhaps the BSA should bestow half a merit badge on itself for having the courage to ‘almost’ do the right thing. Discrimination is offensive and wrong whether it is dictated locally or nationally.”

 

United Church of Christ

“I am happy with today’s vote to welcome more youth to scouting by removing the barrier of sexual orientation,” said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, UCC executive for LGBT concerns. “This is an important and significant step, and the United Church of Christ stands ready to be helpful in every way we can to support scouting programs that are inclusive and safe for everyone.”

Truth Wins Out

The following is TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen’s statement:

“Today’s Boy Scout’s decision was insulting and pandered to ignorance and bigotry at the expense of gay people and their families. Allowing gay scouts but not adult scout leaders was a compromise – only in the sense that BSA compromised its integrity and decency. Let’s be clear — this was not a step forward, but a step backward, because it reinforced the most vile stereotypes and misconceptions deliberately peddled by anti-gay activists.

“Today’s decision was degrading, dehumanizing, and disgraceful. It stigmatized LGBT people and their families and sends the dangerous message that they are inferior and a threat to society.

“The new policy continues to tarnish the organization’s image and TWO urges increased pressure on the BSA.

“Homosexuality is not a moral issue, but a natural expression of who some people are. However, bigotry is a moral issue – one which places the BSA on the wrong side of history.

“TWO does applaud those who fought and victoriously ended the cruel ban on gay scouts. Now is the time to begin the next phase of this fight and bring down the final wall of BSA discrimination.”

 

The anti-LGBT forces are not pleased:

 

Family Research Council

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

“Sadly, the Boy Scouts’ legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise. Unfortunately, Boy Scout delegates capitulated to strong-arm tactics and abandoned the timeless values that have served the organization well for more than 100 years.

“The delegates succumbed to a concerted and manipulative effort by the national BSA leadership despite the BSA’s own survey showing 61 percent of its members in opposition to changing the policy.

“The Boy Scouts has for decades been a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States. BSA councils, Scouting parents, and leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs and troops, must now decide how to respond to this moral compromise. Many will separate from the organization so that they can continue to foster character among boys and respect the right of parents to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons.

“It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups. There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents,” concluded Perkins.

 

Capitol Resource Institute

“The Boy Scouts are an organization that takes in approximately $500 million a year.  The homosexual activists have successfully worked their ground-game of pressuring donors and bullying the board members of this iconic institution,” said Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute. “The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America has cowered to the financial bullying of homosexual activists.”

“We have all been betrayed by the leadership of the BSA today. Young boys and families, fathers who have looked forward to raising their boys in the Scouts, have been betrayed by a leadership that is more concerned about losing funding than losing the boys it serves.  Historically, Americans knew this organization to build strong leaders, leaders that held true to their oaths, leaders that you were able to trust.  We are witnessing the fall of an iconic institution,” said England.

 

OnMyHonor.Net

John Stemberger, Founder of OnMyHonor.Net

“It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that we recognize on this day that the most influential youth program in America has turned a tragic corner. The vote today to allow open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting will completely transform it into an unprincipled and risky proposition for parents. It is truly a sad day for Scouting.

“The Boy Scouts of America has a logo that bears the phrase ‘Timeless Values.’   Today, the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith.  It has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion.”

 

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