David "Old Scout" McGrath and his son Joe are be biking 1,800 miles from Idaho Falls to the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) headquarters in Irving, Texas to urge the Boy Scouts to support a non-discriminatory policy for gay members and leaders. They have announced they will be stopping tomorrow, May 10th, in Laramie, Wyoming to visit the Matthew Shepard Memorial Bench to pay their respects.
David, a former army intelligence officer, earned his Eagle rank alongside his openly gay twin brother in 1983. David is also the father of six sons, two of which are also openly gay. "I love the Boy Scouts. I wish them all the best, and yet they discriminate against people I love," David said.
Joe McGrath, who returned from a year-long deployment in Kuwait on April 15th, said "There's people out there who aren't given the chance to go to Boy Scouts, or, you know, it's something they love and all of a sudden they're getting kicked out."
The Matthew Shepard Memorial Bench is, as its name describes, a site of respect for Matthew Shepard, a 21-year old student who was tortured and murdered in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming for being gay. Shepard's death was a catalyst for social change and brought international attention for the passage of many hate crime laws. The Matthew Shepard Foundation, an LGBT education non-profit, was also founded in his name.
The pair plans to travel over 100 miles per day, and are turning to Kickstarter donations in the hopes of gaining the funding to support the camera equipment to record their journey for use in creating a documentary to further carry their message to the public. Their goal amount is $5,000 for all the necessary supplies. They are asking for some financial contributions in exchange for perks including tickets to see the documentary, a name in the films credits, or even a meet and greet with them. If you are unable to donate monetarily they ask that you link to their Kickstarter on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or other social platforms to help spread the word.
“I join my father on this journey in support of all of the amazing kids and loving parents who are not allowed to share in the scouting experience,” said Joe McGrath. “As a soldier in the US Army, I am proud that they no longer discriminate and believe that it is high time the Boy Scouts does the same.”
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 original Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.