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Boy Scouts of America Votes to Allow Gay Scouts

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GLAAD to continue campaign for gay adults as BSA moves closer to equality

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

May 23, 2013

DALLAS, TX, MAY 23, 2013 - Following a yearlong campaign by GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) today approved a resolution that will allow gay youth to participate in Scouting. The Boy Scouts will maintain its ban on gay and lesbian parents and leaders, however.

For photos, video, resources and more, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts

For a list of spokespeople available for interviews, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts/press

Approximately 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts National Council convened in Grapevine, Texas today to decide the fate of the resolution, which was approved with over 60% in favor of inclusion. The new membership standards, which state that 'no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,' will take effect on January 1, 2014.

The full resolution is viewable at http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/MembershipStandards/Resolution/Resolution.aspx

"Today's vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts' ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end," said GLAAD spokesperson, Rich Ferraro. "The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate."

"When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated." said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who in April 2012, alongside GLAAD, reignited a national conversation about discrimination in Scouting after she was ousted as leader of her son's Cub Scout pack because she's gay. "Having to look my son, Cruz, in the eye and tell him that our family isn't good enough was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Today is truly a watershed moment for me, but even more so for the millions of kids across this country, who will now be allowed to serve in the Scouts without fear of rejection. I'm so proud of how far we've come, but until there's a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue."

"This is an historic day in the 103-year history of the Boy Scouts of America -- the day it finally found its moral compass and started down the long trail to equality in Scouting," said former Kentucky father Greg Bourke, who was ousted as Scoutmaster of his son's Boy Scouts troop because he is gay. "No longer will gay Boy Scouts have to hide their sexual orientation from fear of being criticized and ousted from the Boy Scout membership rolls.  That is definite progress, but even with this approved membership change, gay adults like Jennifer Tyrrell and myself will continue to be banned from serving in the Scouts, even in units with our own children.  There is no other word for that except 'discrimination.'"

"We are relieved to hear that other Scouts will not have to suffer the rejection and expulsion that Ryan experienced, and we’re glad to see that the BSA is finally starting to see how harmful its discriminatory policies have been," said Eric Andresen, who along with his wife Karen, launched a petition on Change.org in support of their son Ryan. "Had this policy been in place just 8 months ago, Ryan would already be an Eagle Scout, and he could've avoided so much pain."

"Just a few hours ago, I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout. Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing," said Pascal Tessier, whose petition on Change.org received more than 128,000 signatures. “Like my brother before me, I now have a chance to earn my Eagle award -- something that’s taken most of my life to achieve. Finally, Scouts are no longer forced to choose between upholding the Scout Oath and being open and honest about who they really are as a person."

“Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Founder of Scouts for Equality. “Scouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts. We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.”

"What started as a Change.org petition launched by a rejected lesbian den mother from Ohio has transformed into a movement of Scouts and Scout leaders who have inspired more than 1.8 million signatures calling for change," said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager at Change.org. "While today's vote is a historic win for Scouts across the country, its also a testament to the incredible power everyday people have when personal stories are paired with innovative online organizing."

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 345,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and adult leaders.

More than 1.8 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 the Intel Foundation and the UPS Foundation 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.

For a full timeline of events leading up to today's vote, please visit http://glaad.org/timeline

For more information on GLAAD, please visit: http://www.glaad.org GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit http://glaad.org or connect with GLAAD at http://glaad.org/connect.

For more information on Change.org, please visit: http://www.change.org/about Change.org is the world's largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see. There are more than 20 million users in 196 countries who use our tools to transform their communities – locally, nationally and globally.

For more information on Scouts for Equality, please visit: http://www.scoutsforequality.org/ Since 1991, the Boy Scouts of America has barred openly gay individuals from participating in its program at any level. Scouts for Equality will lead a respectful, honest dialogue with current and former Scouts and Scout Leaders about ending this outdated policy. By embodying the values of the Scout Oath and Law, we believe we can restore the social relevancy of one of this country’s great cultural institutions: the Boy Scouts of America.