First openly gay Eagle Scout turns 18, calls on Boy Scouts president to end anti-gay ban

Pascal Tessier has been a fierce advocate for change in the Boy Scouts of America. In 2013, he and his brother, Lucien, petitioned the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay Scouts and leaders. He worked tirelessly through the vote the repealed the ban on gay Scouts, even while being disappointed that the ban remained in place on gay leaders. And in February of this year, he became the first openly gay Scout to achieve Eagle Scout status.

This week, Pascal turned 18 years old. Because the ban on gay adults remains in place, that means that he faces expulsion from the Scouts. Pascal reflected on his birthday and what that means for his involvement with the Scouts in an open letter to Boy Scouts President Robert Gates, published at TIME.com today.

In his first speech as the newly elected president of the Boy Scouts of America, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that, although he supports allowing gay adults in Scouting, he will not take the leadership to make change.

Gates went on to argue that ending the ban on gay adults now could lead to the Boy Scouts’ ultimate demise. “And who would pay the price for destroying the Boy Scouts of America?” Gates asked. “We must always put the kids and their interests first.”

Except kids like me, it seems. Kids who have devoted their entire adolescence to Scouting, from Pinewood Derby to Eagle badge, only to be tossed out and told that we are predators.

In allowing the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults to continue—not because he believes it is the right thing to do, but because he is afraid of the possible consequences of enacting a fair policy—Mr. Gates is knowingly sacrificing thousands of devoted Scouts who happen to be gay. Scouts like me.

So today, I am hoping that you, Mr. Gates, will let me convince you to stop the sacrifices.

Read the entire letter at TIME.com

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