GLAAD wrapped up its press conference in Dallas, as 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council meet in Dallas to vote on a resolution critical to equality in Scouting. GLAAD is on the ground along with Scouts for Equality, Inclusive Scouting Network and several Scouting families who launched Change.org petitions, calling on the Boy Scouts to repeal the ban on gay Scouts and leaders. In total 1.8 million signatures were collected in favor of inclusive Scouting.
The day kicked off with the arrival of Dave and Joe McGrath, who biked from Idaho Falls, ID, to the Boy Scouts annual national meeting in Dallas. Dave is the father of Joe and 5 other sons, two of whomare gay but all of which have been involved in Scouting. Both have also been involved with the US military. Joe, who recently returned from a year-long deployment in Kuwait, previously stated that "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," about gay Scouts under the BSA's current discriminatory policies.
Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio mom who was ousted from her son Cruz's Cub Scout Pack in April 2012, spoke to the gathered crowd, telling them of her story and her dream of a fully inclusive Boy Scouts. "No one – young or old – no one should ever be told they're not good enough because of who they are," Tyrrell stated. "Because I am good enough. My family is good enough. The people around me are good enough. And the Boy Scouts of America is better than this."
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality stated, "It is clear that if Scouting is not willing to move forward on this issue, it will be left behind by an America that supports our LGBT friends, neighbors, family members and even our fellow Scouts who made it through the program. America needs the values that Scouting has to offer now more than ever, and we cannot afford to lose this great cultural icon."
Change.org petition starter Greg Bourke, who was ousted as a Scout leader in August of 2012 shared the injustice about being kicked out as a Scout leader. "31 years married. 14 years of parenting. 26 years of active church participation. 20 years of employment with same company. 8 years of responsible Scout leadership," Bourke said, listing his life experience. "My question is how many more years will I have to wait for the BSA to ends its discrimination against gay youth AND adults and adopts a policy of full non-discrimination?"
Openly gay Eagle Scout, Will Oliver, talked about his Change.org petition, asking the National Geographic Channel do place a disclaimer concerning the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy. "I launched a petition on Change.org, calling on National Geographic Channel to disavow the Boy Scouts’ policy banning gay youth and adults. And I’m thrilled to report that National Geographic took my words to heart," Oliver explained. "One of their executives issued support for my campaign in the New York Times, and when GLAAD and I delivered my Change.org petition to their Washington, DC offices, National Geographic invited me to write a guest blog post that was featured on their site the night that 'Are You Tougher Than A Boy Scout?' aired."
Pascal Tessier, brother of Change.org petition starter Lucien Tessier, was denied his Eagle Award after years devoted to Scouting simply for being openly gay. Today he spoke to the crowd gathered at the Equal Scouting Summit in Dallas, TX about his experiences. " Being gay doesn’t define who I am—to me or my family or my friends— but the Boy Scouts’ membership policy will exclude me based on that one quality—regardless of my having earned all the merit badges required for Eagle and everything else I’ve done in Scouting."
To keep following the action in Dallas, visit www.glaad.org/scouts. GLAAD will keep posting photos, video, and updates. The vote is expected to be announced at 5:00 PM CDT tomorrow, and GLAAD will have reactions from all the people who participated in today's press conference.
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.
In the meatime, take a break with Cruz!