NEW YORK, NY — James Turley, Chairman & CEO of Ernst & Young and a Board member of the Boy Scouts of America, announced June 12 that he supports an end to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders.
In a statement issued tonight by Ernst & Young, Turley said that he will work from within the Boy Scouts as a national board member to help change their policies.
"Ernst & Young is proud to have such a strong record in LGBT inclusiveness. As CEO, I know that having an inclusive culture produces the best results, is the right thing for our people and makes us a better organization. My experience has led me to believe that an inclusive environment is important throughout our society and I am proud to be a leader on this issue," Turley said. "I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse. As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress."
Turley made his announcement after Jennifer Tyrrell, an ousted lesbian den leader from Bridgeport, Ohio, started a petition on Change.org calling for an end to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troops and leaders, and calling on national board members of the Boy Scouts to speak out in favor of equality. Last week, the Boy Scouts announced publicly that a resolution was introduced before their board to end the Scouts' long-held policy barring gay troops and leaders.
"When the Boy Scouts kicked me out for being gay, I felt so excluded, like I was nothing, and like I was disappointing my seven-year-old son and his entire pack of Cub Scouts," said Tyrrell. "But the overwhelming support I've received from thousands of scouts and scout leaders, as well as hundreds of thousands of people from around the country, has meant the world to me. We are at a tipping point, with national leaders within the Boy Scouts now taking a firm stand to help end discrimination."
Tyrrell and others are now calling on another prominent Boy Scouts board member, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, to join Turley and speak out against the Scouts' anti-gay policy.
"As the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson is already doing a lot for the gay community. His company provides non-discrimination protections, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners, and much more for gay employees. The last thing AT&T wants is to undermine its excellent reputation for supporting LGBT people by failing to support a resolution that would bring equality to the Boy Scouts of America," said Tyrrell.
Thousands of scouts and scout leaders have joined in Tyrrell's call for an end to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troops and leaders. Two weeks ago, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, whose online video in support of his two lesbian moms went viral last year, delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America's National Annual Meeting, calling for an end to their anti-gay policy (photos available here). Wahls also announced last week that he was forming a new organization inspired by Tyrrell's story, Scouts for Equality, to rally the scouting community to end the policy barring gay troops and leaders.
"Jennifer Tyrrell's story has inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the country, awakening a new movement urging the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay troops and gay scout leaders," said Michael Jones, Deputy Campaign Director at Change.org . "Jennifer began this campaign with just a few strokes on her computer, and now she's ignited a movement that is reaching everyone from corporate leaders to famous celebrities."