On Monday, at 11:00 Central, Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Dallas will get a visit from ousted Boy Scout mom Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award - and they'll be bringing with them the voices of more than a million Americans who want the BSA to end its ban on gay scouts and volunteers.
The national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are gathered this week for to discuss an end to the organization’s discriminatory ban.
"Millions have been moved to speak out in favor of ending the anti-gay ban from across religions, race, and political backgrounds including current scouts and corporate sponsors," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "While an end to the ban will strengthen scouting and stop the harm it caused to so many young gay people, the campaign for change will continue until the national policy is one where every young gay person is allowed to participate."
“More than 1 million people have joined Change.org campaigns urging the Boy Scouts of America to end their national anti-gay policy, and today, those signers are seeing their work and their support delivered right to the Boy Scouts of America, for one final push as the Boy Scout board determines the future of the organization," said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager at Change.org. “Jennifer Tyrrell, Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, and the Andresen family have proven that long-standing institutions of discrimination are no match for cutting-edge online tools and powerful storytelling."
Tyrrell ignited a national movement last year after she was let go as Den Leader of her son's Cub Scout pack because she is gay. Working GLAAD, she started a Change.org petition demanding that she be reinstated, garnering more than 330,000 signatures. She led a second Change.org campaign asking the CEOs of Ernst & Young and AT&T, both of whom sit on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, to speak out against the organization’s ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
Andresen will present Change.org petition signatures on behalf of his son, Ryan, who in October 2012 was told that he could not receive his Eagle Scout award because of his sexual orientation. Ryan’s story became a national phenomenon, and he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with his mother, Karen, to speak out against the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
Will Oliver, a 20-year-old gay Eagle Scout, will present signatures from his Change.org petition, which earlier this year called on the National Geographic Channel to speak out against the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy. The channel is slated to air “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?” this spring in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.
Bourke, who will travel to Dallas with his partner and their two children, will present signatures from his Change.org petition, which he started after he was removed as the Assistant Scoutmaster for the Lincoln Heritage Council in Louisville, Kentucky, because of his sexual orientation.
These petitions, plus more than 50 others that have been started on Change.org urging the Boy Scouts to end their national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, total more than 1.4 million signatures.
"This is an historic week for Scouting," said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality. "We will continue to work with the BSA to implement further non-discrimination measures and bring them into line with the giving requirements for their corporate donors. We all want a healthy, vibrant Scouting movement that can foster lifelong values and principles in our next generation of leaders--with malice toward none, with charity for all."
And you can add one more voice to the list of those urging the BSA to drop this discriminatory ban - President Barack Obama, who also holds the title of Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. In a pre-Super Bowl interview on Sunday, President Obama reaffirmed his opposition to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and leaders.
"I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life," said President Obama. "The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives. I think that no one should be barred from that."