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Pushing Boy Scouts Toward Inclusiveness

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Two months after the Boy Scouts of America removed Jennifer Tyrrell from her position as den leader of her 7 year-old son's troop, her story is still making huge waves in the media. Jennifer was kicked out under the BSA's blanket ban on gay people being affiliated with the organization, either as scouts or leaders, even if their own child is a member of their troop. Late last month, LGBT advocate and Eagle Scout, Zach Wahls, (himself the son of a lesbian couple) delivered the signatures of nearly 300,000 Americans on a Change.org petition asking the Boy Scouts to end its long history of discrimination.

Yesterday, the BSA announced that it would be "considering" a resolution at next year's annual business meeting that would reverse this ban. The resolution would allow parents like Jennifer, whose children want to be scouts, to be involved in that part of their kids' lives. Jennifer spoke with CNN this morning about her own experience, and what lifting this ban would do.

The Boy Scouts say in a statement that the resolution is "completely unrelated" to the voices of more than a quarter-million Americans who want this organization to value all families equally. Their statement says:

Scouting's voting members may submit resolutions, which represent that individual's personal viewpoint, for consideration at the national annual business meeting. As directed by its bylaws, on May 31, the BSA assigned the resolution to a committee that will consider the resolution and present a report to the National Executive Board.

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The introduction of a resolution is procedural and handled with respect but does not indicate the organization is "reviewing a policy" or signal a change in direction.

Wahls, who is in Rhode Island with GLAAD staff at the Netroots Nation conference, spoke with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts about this statement.

 

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Wahls also spoke about his new organization, Scouts for Equality, which is devoted to bringing an end to the discrimination being taught by one of America's oldest and well-respected cultural institutions.

While the BSA may dig in its heels for a little while longer, it is clear to most Americans that their current stance is on the wrong side of history. The American military has lifted its ban on the participation of gay people. The Girl Scouts, 4H club, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America all do not discriminate against gay people.  Most of America's major sports leagues have banned discrimination against gay people, as have more than 85% of the Fortune 500, and all 100 firms on Fortune's list of Best Companies To Work For.  The military, the corporate world, the sports world, and even its fellow youth organizations do not discriminate against gay people. It's time for the Boy Scouts to follow suit.

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