The Boy Scouts of America voted by a 60-percent majority May 23 to allow gay youth to participate in scouting, USA Today reported.
The vote overturned a 22-year-old ban on openly gay scouts that was based on a line from the 1911 Boy Scouts of America oath: "On my honor I will do my best ... to keep myself physically strong, mentally alert and morally straight." Gay adults are still banned from being scoutmasters. The proposal was voted upon by more than 1,400 voting members of the organization's national council at its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
The resolution will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Several LGBT organizations praised the vote. "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.
"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."
Change.org: From one rejected lesbian den mother to 1.8 million signatures for change
DALLAS, TX The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) today approved a resolution that will lift the nationwide ban on gay youth, but will continue to deny gay parents and adults the opportunity to participate in the organization. The resolution was voted on by roughly 1,400 members of the BSA's National Council and will take effect on January 1, 2014.
The historic move comes after more than 1.8 million Change.org petition signatures were amassed on campaigns launched by Scouts, Scout leaders, and Scouting parents, and supported by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, urging the Boy Scouts to end its national anti-gay policy.
Pascal Tessier, a 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, perhaps has the most to gain from today's historic vote. As an openly gay young person, Tessier's Boy Scout council recently said that unless the Boy Scouts lift their ban, Pascal would not be able to earn his Eagle award. So Pascal's older brother, Lucien Tessier, launched a petition on Change.org urging the Boy Scouts to end the national anti-gay ban so his younger brother can earn his Eagle award, just like Lucien did.
"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 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."
Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell ignited a national movement last year after she was let go as Den Leader of her son's Cub Scout pack because she is gay. Working with GLAAD, she started a Change.org petition demanding that she be reinstated, garnering more than 330,000 signatures. She led a second Change.org campaign asking the CEOs of Ernst & Young and AT&T, both of whom sit on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, to speak out against the organization's ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
"When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who launched her campaign on Change.org . "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."
GLAAD, which initially broke Tyrrell's story and has been helping gay Scouts and Scout leaders affected by the policy share their stories, applauded today's vote, but echoed Tyrrell's call for greater inclusion.
"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."
Greg Bourke, a gay former assistant Scoutmaster who was removed from his son's Boy Scout troop because of his sexual orientation, celebrated the historic move, but issued disappointment in the Boy Scouts for not lifting the ban on gay parents and adult leaders. Bourke had delivered more than 64,000 Change.org petition signatures to United Way Worldwide's' annual national Staff Leaders Conference in April, where he met with United Way leaders and urged them to denounce the BSA's anti-gay policy and withhold funds should the Boy Scouts maintain its ban on gay youth and parents.
"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 Greg Bourke, who launched his petition on Change.org . "It 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."
Eric Andresen, who along with his wife Karen launched a petition on Change.org urging the Boy Scouts to award their son Ryan his Eagle award after Ryan was rejected for being gay, joined fellow Scouts and Scout leaders in recognizing the significance of this milestone.
"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."
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of the organization Scouts for Equality, praised the Boy Scouts for ending the ban on gay youth, and pledged to continue to work toward a day when all Scouts and Scout leaders are supported within the organization, regardless of their sexual orientation. Wahls' organization waged multiple successful petition campaigns, including Change.org petitions urging Intel and UPS to withhold funding from the Boy Scouts until the anti-gay ban is lifted.
"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."
Family Equality Council: Boy Scout vote still discriminates against LGBT parents/LGBT leaders
Washington, DC - (May 23, 2013) - Family Equality Council, the national organization that connects, supports and represents the three million parents in our country who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and their six million children today issued the following statement following a decision by the Boy Scouts of America to end their long-standing ban on gay youth, but continue to ban gay leaders including parents.
"Every Boy Scout, on their honor, first pledges to do their best," said Family Equality Council Spokesman Steve Majors. "This is a step in the right direction, but it's not the best the Boy Scouts can do. The Boy Scouts of America have sent a hurtful message to Scouts with LGBT parents that their moms and dads are not welcome as leaders alongside other parents. As a father of two girl scouts and the proud partner of an Eagle Scout, I know that Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and the Boy Scouts should be open to all our families."
"Let's also not forget this decision also affects gay Scouts who will be prevented from serving as adult leaders," added Majors. "There is nothing honorable about discriminating against Scouts after they reach a certain age. Family Equality Council remains proud of the work that Zach Wahls, our Outspoken Generation co-chair, and parents like Jennifer Tyrrell have done to change the hearts and minds of the Boy Scouts on this issue. We look forward to the day when Scouting becomes an institution equally open to all Americans."
Truth Wins Out condemns Boy Scouts decision as cowardly, incoherent, and mean-spirited
An estimated 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) National Council just voted 61-38 percent to end the ban on gay youth participating in the program, but kept its outrageous and offensive policy banning gay leaders and volunteers.
The following is Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen's statement:
Today's Boy Scout's decision was insulting and pandered to ignorance and bigotry at the expense of gay people and their families. Allowing gay scouts but not adult scout leaders was a compromise - only in the sense that BSA compromised its integrity and decency. Let's be clear - this was not a step forward, but a step backward, because it reinforced the most vile stereotypes and misconceptions deliberately peddled by anti-gay activists.
Today's decision was degrading, dehumanizing, and disgraceful. It stigmatized LGBT people and their families and sends the dangerous message that they are inferior and a threat to society.
The new policy continues to tarnish the organization's image and TWO urges increased pressure on the BSA.
Homosexuality is not a moral issue, but a natural expression of who some people are. However, bigotry is a moral issue - one which places the BSA on the wrong side of history.
TWO does applaud those who fought and victoriously ended the cruel ban on gay scouts. Now is the time to begin the next phase of this fight and bring down the final wall of BSA discrimination.
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.
GLSEN statement on Boy Scouts of America's decision to lift anti-gay ban
NEW YORK May 23, 2013 The following is a statement from GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard about the Boy Scouts of America's vote to lift its ban on gay Scouts. The overturned ban does not include gay adults in leadership roles.
"Today's vote by the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay Scouts sends an important message to our nation's youth. Youth organizations like the Boy Scouts can be significant forms of support for young people and it's critical that these kinds of supports are available to everyone. Unfortunately, this issue will not rest until the Boy Scouts recognize that the exclusion of LGBT people from troop leadership is wrong-headed."
Human Rights Campaign: Boy Scouts of America takes historic step forward for gay scouts, leaves gay scout leaders behind
WASHINGTON In a historic move, 1,400 leaders from the nation's local Boy Scouts of America Councils gave the green light to equality for gay Scouts, voting to end the organization's long standing ban on gay youth. Unfortunately the new policy does not go far enough, leaving adult Eagle Scouts, scout leaders, and parents behind. The resolution passed today reads in part, "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
"Today is a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. "But the new policy doesn't go far enough. Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans."
"The Boy Scouts of America can do better," said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. "We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn't over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all."
Unanswered in the new policy is the issue of employment discrimination by BSA. Currently, the BSA job application for "professional commission" explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA's national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads: "The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals." The full application can be viewed here.
Several major mental health organizations support lifting the anti-gay ban completely, including for Scout leaders and other adults. Earlier this year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America declaring, in part, "[W]e call on you to end the ban for the betterment of all young men. We urge you to recognize the importance of Scouts for all boys and the critical need for volunteer leaders, and end discrimination towards adult leaders based on sexual orientation and gender identity." For more than a decade, the American Medical Association has called the ban on gay Scouts potentially psychologically traumatizing.
In April 2012, Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell launched a Change.org petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its national ban on gay scouts, parents, and scout leaders after she was ousted as her son's den leader because she is gay. She sparked a campaign led by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to advocate for an inclusive BSA, which has resulted in several corporate sponsors withholding funds as well as hundreds of celebrities, elected officials, scouts and religious institutions speaking out against the ban. In February of this year, GLAAD and Scouts for Equality delivered more than 1.4 million Change.org signatures to BSA headquarters with gay scouts and scouting families impacted by the ban.