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Boy Scouts of America fails members, maintains ban on gay and lesbian parents

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Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

April 19, 2013

NEW YORK, April 19, 2013 – GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today responded to the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) proposal to maintain its ban on gay and lesbian parents. The proposed language reads in part: "[…] the Boy Scouts of America will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America […]."

"Yet again, the Boy Scouts of America has failed its members, corporate sponsors, donors and the millions of Americans who agree that the time to end discrimination in Scouting is now," said Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications at GLAAD. "By refusing to consider an end to its ban on gay and lesbian parents, the Boy Scouts have missed an opportunity to exercise leadership and usher the organization back to relevancy. We're living in a culture where, until every young person and parent have the same opportunity to serve, the Boy Scouts will continue to see a decline in both membership and donations."

Today, the BSA released proposed language for a revised Membership Standards Resolution, which, if approved, would open Scouting to gay youth but would maintain the organization's ban on gay and lesbian parents. A body of 1,400 members will vote on whether or not to adopt the policy next month. The Resolution reads in part:

WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, and

Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

Full resolution language is available here: http://scoutingmagazine.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/proposed-membership-standards-resolution.pdf

"I am appalled at the Boys Scouts' announcement," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted as leader of her son's Cub Scouts pack in April 2012 because she's gay.  "The fact that they are still telling children their parents aren't good enough is heartbreaking to me. How many times do families like mine have to be rejected by this organization? The release of this information at the same time our fellow Americans in Boston are suffering so much is nothing short of despicable. In a time, when we as a country need to stand up and show solidarity, compassion, and love for all, the BSA is continuing to divide the country with their discriminatory policy."

"I can't even begin to explain how much it hurt when I read the proposed resolution and realized that the Boy Scouts were still telling me and my family that we're not welcome," said gay dad and former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, who delivered 64,000 Change.org petition signatures to United Way on Wednesday, urging the major BSA donor to denounce the anti-gay policy. "After dedicating more than five years to my son's Boy Scout troop and earning the love and respect of my community, how can the Boy Scouts honestly say that I'm not worthy to lead?"

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 Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

More than 1 million people have joined Change.org petition campaigns since Tyrrell launched her first petition. Since that day, advocacy efforts and successful petition campaigns have recruited two Boy Scout board members -- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young CEO James Turley -- to denounce the national anti-gay policy. GLAAD, together with Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality Zach Wahls, have also used Change.org petitions to pressure corporate donors such as Intel and UPS to pull funding until the Boy Scouts end their policy banning gay youth and parents. Last fall, a Bay Area mother named Karen Andresen petitioned her local Boy Scout council to honor her son Ryan with an Eagle Award that was denied to him when the Scout came out as gay. An official Eagle Board Board of Review unanimously approved Ryan's application for Eagle, but a Boy Scout executive ultimately rejected his application.