GLAAD today joined Scouts for Equality and 20 year-old Eagle Scout Will Oliver to call on the National Geographic Channel to denounce the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.
This spring, National Geographic Channel will begin airing, "Are You Tougher than a Boy Scout." By airing the series, the network has stepped into a uniquely influential role as a strategic business partner of the BSA. The show is being used to market the BSA to young people, but fails to inform viewers about the organization's dangerous anti-gay policy. Will is asking that National Geographic Channel air a disclaimer before each episode, alerting viewers that the network does not stand by the BSA's anti-gay policies.
In response to public outcry over the show, National Geographic Channel released the following statement on Thursday:
National Geographic Channel is an international media company that is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in any capacity. As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic, but when people see our show they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate, and is in fact a competition series between individual scouts and civilians.
“That National Geographic would brush aside countless gay teens suffering at the hands of the BSA, shrugging off injustice as just another ‘point of view,’ is irresponsible,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “By airing this program, National Geographic is providing support and publicity to an organization that harms young people simply because of who they are. If the network is truly committed to standing by its non-discrimination practices, it should have no problem airing a disclaimer to that effect.”
In the BSA’s October 2012 Progress Report of its National Council Strategic Plan 2011-2015, the BSA cites the National Geographic Channel series as a “strategic partnership” to accomplish the following objective: “Scouting is ‘cool’ with youth.” The Progress Report states that the BSA will begin working on marketing plans with National Geographic for “leveraging the show with Scouting audiences and audiences outside of scouting.”
“It’s all too clear that this show is just a marketing ploy, crafted by the BSA to boost dwindling membership and distract Americans from the Scouts’ long history of discrimination,” Graddick continued. “National Geographic Channel is the means to that end and must therefore make it clear where the network stands.”
"By refusing to denounce the Boy Scouts' explicitly anti-gay policy, National Geographic Channel is condoning discrimination. As a gay Eagle Scout and a member of the National Geographic Society, I expect more from this pioneering media company," said Will, whose Change.org petition has now garnered over 3,700 signatures. "It is irresponsible to market the Boy Scouts of America without informing viewers, especially parents and children, about the policy. The stakes are too high."
Join GLAAD, Scouts for Equality and 20 year-old Eagle Scout Will Oliver to urge National Geographic Channel to speak out against discrimination -- sign Will's Change.org petition here.