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.”
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.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.