Lucien Tessier, 20, and Pascal Tessier, 16, of Kensington, Maryland, are openly gay brothers petitioning the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end their anti-gay ban – so that Pascal may receive his Eagle Award like his brother did.
Lucien launched the campaign and petition after a spokesperson for his local Boy Scout Council, the National Capital Area Boy Scout Council, told Pascal that because he was openly gay, he would be ineligible for the same Eagle Award Lucien had received a few years earlier. This was the first time in either of the brothers' many years of dedication to the BSA that one of them had been rejected.
“For me, the proudest moment of my years of service and dedication to Scouting was the moment I received my Eagle award. My little brother deserves that moment, too. Every Scout deserves a chance to get their Eagle,” says the elder Tessier.
The BSA had been planning for an internal vote by adult members on the issue of its institutionalized anti-gay prejudice at the end of May. After launching a series of membership surveys the BSA found that, among other things, an overwhelming majority of parents, teens, and members in the Scouts strongly agreed that it would be unacceptable to deny an openly gay Scout an Eagle Award solely because of his sexual orientation.
"The Boy Scouts insist on denying hard-working young men the honors they deserve simply because they're gay, which tears apart their relationship with proud Scouting families like the Tessiers," said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's Vice President of Communications. "A majority of Americans, and even the Boy Scouts' own members, agree that it's time we end the shameful rejection of qualified gay Scout."
In response to the responsive received through the surveys the BSA announced on April 19th that the quickly approaching May vote would be specifically on allowing openly gay youth back into the Scouts, but that they would maintain their firm ban on older gay members and gay adults. This despite the overwhelming internal and nationwide support for dropping the ban altogether.
“I’m thrilled that under the proposed resolution, after years of service and dedication to the Boy Scouts, my brother would be eligible to earn his Eagle award,” said Lucien Tessier, “But what I cannot understand is why the Boy Scouts of America believes that I’m not fit to lead my brother’s troop, even though I received the Boy Scouts highest honor just a few years ago. If a Scout has what it takes to earn his Eagle award, surely he has what it takes to serve as an adult leader.”
GLAAD is working with Scouts for Equality, an alumni organization of more than 5,000 Eagle Scouts who are working together to urge the Boy Scouts to finally end their ban on all gay members. They both stand firmly in support of the Tessiers' efforts to overturn the ban.
"Lucien and Pascal are shining examples of outstanding Scouts. Their situation clearly demonstrates the shortcomings of the BSA's policy, and we will not rest until youth like Pascal get the rank and respect they deserve," said Brad Hankins, Eagle Scout and National Campaign Director of Scouts for Equality. "We're proud to see Lucien standing up for his little brother, and we're proud to call them both brothers in Scouting and members of Scouts for Equality."
“In just one week, more than 30,000 people have signed Lucien’s petition on Change.org, urging the Boy Scouts of America to vote to end its anti-gay policy so his brother can get his Eagle award,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager at Change.org. “Lucien’s campaign is just the most recent addition to more than 100 petitions launched on Change.org by Scouts, Scout leaders, and Scouting families who want all gay youth and parents to be welcome in the Boy Scouts of America.”
The BBC spoke with Lucien and Pascal about their experiences:
If you'd like to sign Lucien and Pascal's Change.org petition and help end anti-gay discrimination within the Boy Scouts you can sign up at the campaign's Change.org page.
If you'd like a complete list of petitions targeting the Boy Scouts of America you can view them on Change.org's dedicated page.
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 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit glaad.org/scouts.