James Dale was kicked out of the Boy Scouts of America after his 12 year membership was revoked because his local newspaper disclosed his sexual orientation after and interview he took part in at a seminar on the health needs of lesbian and gay teenagers at the age of 19. Dale was shocked by his expulsion. In an interview with GLAAD he said, "I had never heard anything like this," but he wasn't going to give up without a fight. He challenged this discrimination and for the next ten years he worked to end inequality in the BSA based on sexual orientation. Check out the video:
His case, known today as Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, reached the Supreme Court where a five to four vote decided that the freedom of association allows a private organization like the BSA to deny or revoke a person’s membership when “the presence of that person effects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints." Opposition to the LGBT community was ruled as part of the Boy Scouts of America’s “expressive message” and allowing LGBT youth members or adult leaders would interfere with the delivery of that message. The conclusion of the Supreme Court reversed the prior decision reached by the New Jersey court to reinstate Dale’s membership, thus finalizing his expulsion from the Boy Scouts of America.
Even though James Dale lost the court case against the Boy Scouts of America he feels as though he won anyway and continues to win the popular opinion. Today the popular opinion is still fighting the same battle in Texas where a Cub Scout mom, her son and fellow members of BSA are awaiting the decision that could make the Boy Scouts of America a more inclusive and accepting organization.
People need to continue to come out and speak out, standing up for rights and the rights of others. Jennifer Tyrrell, a BSA leader who was kicked out because she is a lesbian, spoke out and shared her story along with so many others whose struggles and hardships turned into a hopeful campaign to bring LGBT equality to the Boy Scouts of America.
James Dale says, “its not just one story that will make a difference.” Jennifer Tyrrell’s Change.org petition and James Dale’s Supreme Court case are two of the stories that are making a difference but it is all the stories combined that will really show the world the kind of negative impact actions like those of the BSA are creating.
“Change only happens when you share your story and share your voice, let that be heard,” Dale says. James Dale is asking you to use the power of your story, take action and let your voice be heard. Find easy ways to show your support at http://glaad.org/scouts