The Boy Scouts of America made history today by approving a resolution that will allow gay youth to participate. The new membership standards, which state that 'no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,' will take effect on January 1, 2014. The Boy Scouts' ban on gay adults will remain intact, however.
"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.'"
GLAAD, in association with Change.org, Scouts for Equality (SFE), and the Inclusive Scouting Network (ISN), delivered over 1.8 million signatures to the BSA urging them to drop their discriminatory ban on gay members.
For photos, video, resources and more, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts
For a full timeline of events leading up to today's vote, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts