President of Boy Scouts to USA Today: Let in gay youth

USA Today published an op-ed by Wayne Perry, the President of the Boy Scouts of America, in which he urges the 1,400 voting members gathering in Dallas to vote to allow gay youth to be a part of Scouting. He gives some of the background to the proposal, offering rationale for the proposal.

GLAAD and Scouts for Equality are on the ground in Grapevine, Texas where the vote will be held on Thursday advocating for a nationwide policy of non-discrimination. Check out our live blog and photos.

He affirms the Supreme Court case of Dale vs. Boy Scouts of America, which allowed the Boy Scouts to discriminate against gay Scouts. In his op-ed, Perry states, "It is worth noting that the court's decision was not about whether homosexuality is right or wrong; rather, it affirmed that private organizations have the right to set membership rules based on their beliefs and values." James Dale, the plaintiff in the case, spoke with GLAAD recently, and said that the opinion about LGBT people is turning because people like him and people like us shared our story.

Perry spends a lot of energy in the op-ed on the issue of the Boy Scouts' relationship with religion. He states that 70% of Boy Scout troops are sponsored by religious organizations or congregations. However, he seems to make the assumption that most, if not all, religious people oppose gay Scouts. The reality is that the Mormon Church, the sponsor of the most troops, has endorsed the vote to allow gay Scouts. The Roman Catholic Church, which sponsors the second highest number of troops, has not urged a vote either way. Meanwhile, the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Metropolitan Community Church have all urged a full repeal of the ban.

Perry states emphatically that the proposed change is not due to outside pressure, but from internal conversations with Scouts, parents and partners, "Parents, adults in the Scouting community and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting."

Perry closes with a plea for voting members and other supporters of Scouting to accept the policy change that would allow gay Scouts into the organization. He puts the full endorsement of the Boy Scouts Executive Committee behind the proposal, stating that the nation needs Scouting that includes all Scouts.

The BSA's executive committee unanimously presented this resolution because it stays true to Scouting's mission and remains focused on kids. No matter what your opinion is on this issue, America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation's children.

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 visitwww.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visitwww.glaad.org/scouts.

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism