More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Boy Scouts of America Officials Propose Allowing Local Troops to Accept Gay Youth and Leaders after Eagle Scout Delivers 275,000 Petitions at National Annual Meeting
Sources have confirmed that Boy Scout officials have proposed a new policy -- which could be voted on as early as 2013 -- that would allow local chartering organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay youth and leaders.
The proposal comes after Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America from a popular petition on Change.org. The petition calls on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a lesbian den leader in Ohio, Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed from her position because of her sexual orientation, and to end the Boy Scouts’ long-held policy barring openly gay scouts and scout leaders.
“Last Wednesday I delivered 275,000 petition signatures -- including the signatures of thousands of scouts and scout leaders -- to the Boy Scouts of America because I love the organization and I refuse to stand by idly as it forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most,” said Wahls. “In proposing to allow local charter organizations to decide whether or not they’ll include gay youth and leaders within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has taken an historic step forward, and I applaud their bravery in doing so.”
Wahls met with the Boy Scouts of America’s Public Relations Director, Deron Smith, and other top-ranking Boy Scout officials who asked not to be named after delivering the 275,000 petition signatures to the organization’s annual national meeting last Wednesday.
“As both an Eagle Scout with a personal investment in the success of the Boy Scouts of America and as the son of a lesbian couple, it means a lot to see this change finally set in motion,” added Wahls.
Wahls, the author of My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family and whose online video in support of his two gay moms went viral last year, delivered the signatures on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom who was removed as den leader of her seven-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in Ohio last month. After being removed from her position, Tyrrell began working with GLAAD to share her story and started a petition on Change.org asking to be reinstated, and urging the Boy Scouts to stop dividing families and communities with a policy that excludes gay families, scouts and leaders.
“When I got the call from the Boy Scouts of America signaling that I could no longer serve as my seven-year-old’s Cub Scout den leader, I was heartbroken. But the blow was softened by the outpouring of support I received from my community and the parents of the boys I had dedicated myself to,” said Tyrrell. “I know if it was up to my community, I’d still be a Cub Scout Den Leader today, so this news is definitely a huge step in the right direction for the Boy Scouts of America.”
Tyrrell’s petition on Change.org earned the support of scores of celebrities, including most recently GLEE’s Dianna Agron, who signed the petition this past weekend at the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco, where Tyrrell was featured and addressed the crowd (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp0dwOhLH4M) together with local scouting families who support her Change.org petition. Other celebrities endorsing Tyrrell’s petition include Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Ricky Martin, Perez Hilton, Kat Graham, Fran Drescher, Kelly Osbourne, Benicio Del Toro, and more.
“Zach and the thousands of scouts and scout leaders who have joined Jennifer’s campaign were able to connect through the petition in a way that has never happened before, which definitely caught the attention of the Boy Scouts of America,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, Campaign Manager at Change.org. “Change happens when everyday people like Jennifer are brave enough to share personal stories that inspire hundreds of thousands to take action -- and that’s what Change.org is all about.”
“By sharing her story, Jennifer Tyrrell became one of America’s favorite moms and showed the Boy Scouts of America just how much support there is for gay and lesbian families,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to stop teaching discrimination and join organizations like the 4H Club, Boys & Girls Club and the Girl Scouts of America in accepting all Americans.”
Sign Jennifer's petition today at http://www.change.org/scouts
This month the United States Supreme Court will issue decisions on two cases critical to marriage equality. GLAAD is working with media outlets and couples around the country to push for marriage. Follow GLAAD for up to date news about the Supreme Court's decision at www.glaad.org/marriage