After more than a week of reports that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) might consider lifting its national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, the organization’s Board of Directors met today behind closed doors to establish a task force to further study the issue.
Gay Scouts and Scout leaders, as well as GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, have been working for more than nine months to end the ban. In fact, more than 1.4 million people have signed petitions at Change.org, calling for the BSA to end its national ban.
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” the organization said at the close of today’s meeting.
And while the discussions continue, so does the ban.
Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom from Bridgeport, Ohio, who was ousted as the leader of her son’s Cub Scout Pack in April 2012 because of her sexual orientation, helped spark a national movement calling on the Boy Scouts to change its policy. Tyrrell, with the support of GLAAD, started a petition on Change.org that rallied hundreds of thousands urging the Boy Scouts to welcome gay Scouts and leaders.
“A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today,” says Tyrrell, who visited Dallas earlier this week to deliver signatures from her own Change.org petition. “The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they’ve failed us yet again. No parent should have to look their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don’t want us. Our fight will continue, and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy.”
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of the organization Scouts for Equality, admits he was disappointed with today’s news. “This is an abdication of responsibility,” says Wahls. “By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their ideas about being gay trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery. Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation.”
On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America received 1.4 million petition signatures urging the organization to end its national policy banning gay youth and parents. There are also presently nine different national campaigns and more than 50 local campaigns already active in calling for an end to the BSA’s policy.
“An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hardworking parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout,” says GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced. We’re living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory.”