Lucien Tessier and his younger brother, Pascal, have several things in common: they're both gay, dedicated members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and determined advocates for equality in scouting.
In recent years, much progress has been made towards making LGBT equality a reality within BSA. For example, when the boys each began working towards becoming Eagle Scouts, they remained silent about being gay, as they would have been banned from the organization--however, BSA lifted its ban on gay members in the summer of 2013, and Pascal recently became one of the first openly gay Eagle Scouts in the country.
A discriminatory ban on adult leaders who are LGBT remains in place, though. In a recent commentary piece for The Guardian, Lucien reflected on the strides made in the movement for equality in scouting while considering the work that's left to be done. Lucien wrote:
Pascal has just become one of the first openly gay scouts in the US to be awarded the rank of Eagle. It was a historic moment – for him, for everyone who has worked toward this goal, and for the Boy Scouts of America. Gay youth are now entitled to be part of the rich and valuable tradition of Scouting.
His victory will be short-lived. In just six months, when Pascal turns 18, he can no longer be involved in scouting, despite having earned its highest honor, despite having been lauded by Aaron Chusid of the BSA, who said "there is no better example of what we teach" than Pascal. He cannot give back to an organization that has helped shape him into a boy with the courage to defend what he believes is right. Why? Because at 18, he is an adult in the eyes of the BSA, and gay adults, including the parents of scouts, are banned from the organization.
I am encouraged that Robert Gates, who was instrumental in ending discrimination against gay and lesbian members of the US military, has been chosen as the incoming leader of the BSA. His record suggests that he will act to resolve an irrational policy in an organization whose mission it is to teach honesty, respect, and leadership.
You can read the full article, "My brother just became an openly gay Eagle Scout. But we're still 'unfit' to be leaders," here. Visit glaad.org/scouts to learn more about bringing equality to BSA.