Scouts for Equality (SFE) held a national day of action this past Friday across the country, in dozens of cities, to urge the Boy Scouts to end its ban on gay Scouts and adult members. The events were held by local Scout coucils to encourage the national Boy Scouts of America (BSA) representatives to back the proposed policy change allowing gay youth, but not adults, to finally join the Scouts. The BSA is holding a national internal vote at the end of May to decide on the issue.
ThinkProgress was on the ground in Bethesda Maryland among Scouts, parents, leaders, and volunteers to discuss their views on this imporant issue. Outside the National Capital Area Council headquarters, the spoke to many participants in the rally.
They spoke with a mother of an Eagle Scout and wife of a former Scoutmaster, Debbie Heller, who said “I think Scouting is the greatest organization in the world, but if they continue to discriminate, I couldn’t support [the BSA]."
“Discrimination is wrong," said Eagle Scout David Churchill. Boy Scout law requires all Scouts to be kind, he thinks “the organization needs to reflect that as well."
“The Scouts are asking me to be a liar or to do a really hurtful thing to a child. I can’t do it, and so I think it’s wrong," said Jody Benjamin, a former Den leader and committee chair.
Justis Tunia, Eagle Scout stated “It’s a shame that we as former members and families associated with Scouting have to push the organization in this direction, as these were values that were taught to us throughout our period in Scouting.”
“Just being accepting about different people, it was the basic tenets of living together and being at a camp site together,” thought Andrew Kragie, Eagle Scout and Senior Patrol Leader of his Washington, DC troop.
“I want to see my nephews be able to participate in a Scouting organization where their mothers can be their Den mothers," said Eagle Scout Harris Walker.
And Jerald Lentini, another Eagle Scout noted that “Scouting is a trail, and we’re being told that we should be leaving some of our fellow hikers on that trail, along the wayside, because they are different than us.”
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.