By Zach Wahls
Today, as Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed News is reporting, the Greater New York Area Councils of the Boy Scouts of America confirmed that it has hired Pascal Tessier, an openly gay adult Eagle Scout and member of Scouts for Equality. The announcement suggests that the Boy Scouts of America is not enforcing its policy of prohibiting adult gay leaders from employment. In light of this, Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, issued the following statement:
This is a watershed moment. For the first time in the history of the Boy Scouts, an openly gay adult will join their ranks as a camp counselor. Pascal Tessier was the first out gay scout, and now it appears that he will also be the first out gay leader.
But if the Boy Scouts of America National Council steps in to force the Greater New York Councils to rescind their offer to hire Pascal, it will represent a boldfaced example of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is illegal in New York State.
As the controversy swirling in Indiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere demonstrates, Americans are no longer willing to tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation. We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and we expect our leaders–and future leaders–to do the same.
We are proud to see such an important Boy Scout council standing up for the full inclusion of gay members and affirming that the values and principles of scouting are important to all people regardless of sexual orientation or age. We are proud of them for living up to the full promise of Scouting. And we’re proud to be working with Pascal as he stands up for his rights as protected by law.
Please support our work by visiting: https://www.scoutsforequality.org/donate
By Justin Paul Wilson
On 23, Feb 2015 | In Campaign Events | By Justin Paul Wilson
I’m thrilled to announce that this April, Scouts for Equality will be hosting our first-ever National Gathering for supporters of inclusive Scouting.
Eagle Scout ’07
By Zach Wahls
As Mormon Church Endorses Nationwide Employment Protections for LGBT Americans, Pressure Builds on Boy Scouts of America to End Gay Ban
On 27, Jan 2015 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
Today, in response to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ announcement that it would support anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT employees, Scouts for Equality called on the Boy Scouts of America to end its decades-old ban on gay employees and adult members.It is deeply significant that the Mormon Church, a dominant voice in the American Scouting movement, is clarifying its position on LGBT rights just two weeks ahead of the BSA’s annual “Scout Sunday.”
“We’re optimistic that today’s announcement will demonstrate to the leadership of the Boy Scouts that their discriminatory policy of barring LGBT adults is out of step with people of faith all across the religious spectrum,” said Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls. “We hope that the Church communicates its values and expectations to the organizations it works with and supports, including the Boy Scouts of America, which should follow suit and end its long-standing ban on gay employees and adults.”
“This is not about gays versus God,” continued Wahls. The vast majority of Christian denominations including the Evangelical Lutheran Church Association, the Episcopal Church, the Catholic Church, and the United Church of Christ welcome LGBT worshippers as God’s children and many have endorsed some form of legal protections for LGBT Americans.
The Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a long relationship. The Mormon Church is the only religious organization in the country to adopt the Scouting program as an official youth program. According to the Boy Scouts of America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors about 38,000 Scouting units and a total of 437,000 youth members nationwide.
“The Mormon Church enjoys a unique role in the Boy Scouts of America, and this decision could prove to be a watershed moment,” continued Wahls. “For years, the Mormon Church has stood in the way of progress for LGBT Americans, and we’re glad to see that they appear to be re-evaluating that position.”
In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted 62% to 38% to end its decades-old ban on gay youth, but left in place its ban on gay adults. The Mormon church praised that decision.
By Zach Wahls
On 25, Jan 2015 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
California Bans Judges from Boy Scouts Affiliation
In a stunning development, California’s Supreme Court has unanimously decided to bar judges in California from participating as members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of the BSA’s longtime ban on gay adults. Since 1996, the California Supreme Court has banned participation in organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but it had made an exception for nonprofit youth groups.
According to NBC News, an ethics advisory committee made in the recommendation in February of 2014 in order to bolster the public’s confidence in the state’s legal system.
By Zach Wahls
On 11, Sep 2014 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
Tuesday night’s briefing was an unequivocal success, despite a few (inevitable!) technical difficulties.
We had hundreds of people watch live and are so glad to have your support. You can watch the briefing here:
You can find a PDF copy of the Powerpoint presentation we put together for Tuesday’s briefing here:
We also compiled many of the questions we received during the presentation into a FAQ document here:
As always, if you have any questions, please be in touch at ScoutsForEquality@gmail.com
By Zach Wahls
On 09, Sep 2014 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
Scouts for Equality hosts online strategy briefing
The briefing will start shortly after 9PM ET.
You can watch the Scouts for Equality strategy briefing, hosted by executive director Zach Wahls, using the Youtube video below. Questions can be submitted to ScoutsForEquality@gmail.com
By Zach Wahls
On 24, May 2014 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
A Scout is Brave: Scouts for Equality Demands Robert Gates Leads by the Courage of His Convictions
Nashville, TN—Friday evening, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, an Eagle Scout, announced that he supports full inclusion of gay adults in the Boy Scouts, but that he is unwilling to re-open the debate over the controversial policy that prohibits gay adults (18 and over) from participating in Scouting. In response, Scouts for Equality called on Gates to abide by the Scout Law by being brave and leading with the courage of his convictions.
Gates’ announcement came during a speech following his formal election as President of the Boy Scouts.
In response to the statement from Gates, Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, issued the following statement:
“We’re glad to have the support of Mr. Gates, and we hope now that he will do what all Eagle Scouts are charged to do: lead. His characterization of last year’s decision as ‘democratic’ is unfortunate and untrue, as the resolution limiting inclusion to only youth was crafted by a small, unelected committee more concerned with avoiding criticism than with following the principles of the Scout Oath and Law.”
“Mr. Gates expressed that he believes Scouting should be a place where youth should not fear being bullied or disrespected, but I don’t know how else you would characterize being told ‘you are unfit to continue Scouting after your eighteenth birthday.’”
“This is a cop out, and it tarnishes the legacy Mr. Gates has built as a leader who bridged cultural and political divides and led the military—and now the Boy Scouts—into the twenty-first century.”
“Knowing that he’s on our side—and the right side of history—makes us hopeful that he’ll turn away from the small cadre of culture warriors whose message of fear and division has led the Boy Scouts further and further from the American mainstream.”
In prepared remarks distributed to reporters, Gates is credited with saying:
Finally, let me address the membership issue, an issue that has left us divided, distracted and defensive. A year ago, this meeting saw a respectful and civil debate over membership policy. In a democratic process, a strong majority of the volunteer leadership of this movement from all across the nation voted to welcome gay youth into scouting. In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in CIA and in the military.
That said, I accept the vote of a year ago, and I strongly support it. And, in its implementation, Scouting must provide a welcoming and safe environment for gay youth, a place where they can benefit from Scouting and not face bullying or disrespect.
The Boy Scouts of America have rescinded their promise to include gay youth up to the age of 21 in some of their programs. Now all scouts above the age of 18 will be required to register as adults.
This means that those gay Scouts who were between the ages of 18 and 21 are now no longer eligible.
It’s a sad day for Scouting when the BSA backtracks on a promise. We were taught that “A Scout is Trustworthy”.
Included is a clip where Nathan Rosenberg (BSA Executive Committee) pledges to include gay youth up to 21 in last year’s Membership Standards Livecast: