By Zach Wahls
On 25, Jul 2015 | In scouting | By Zach Wahls
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2015
Press Contact: Zach Wahls
Phone: (319) 438-2246
SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY HAILS HISTORIC VOTE BY BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
In historic vote, Boy Scouts of America ends national ban on gay adults—effective immediately.
Scouts for Equality calls on community members, former Scouts, and non-profit organizations to re-engage with Boy Scouts of America.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Scouts for Equality, the national organization leading the campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America, praised today’s historic vote by the BSA’s National Executive Board to end the organization’s decades-old ban on gay adults.
“This vote marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Boy Scouts of America,” said Zach Wahls, the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. “Tens of thousands of people came together because they wanted to build a better future for the Boy Scouts of America, and that future starts today. I couldn’t be more proud of the tireless work of our members, volunteers, and staff over these last three years. As of today, the Boy Scouts of America is an organization that is looking forward, not back.”
Scouts for Equality—a group of current and former Boy Scouts members—has led the charge in campaigning for an end to the Boy Scouts of America’s ban since 2012. In 2013, the BSA voted to end its ban on gay youth members, which many saw as a stepping-stone to full inclusion for the organization. Today, the work of this campaign was vindicated by an historic vote from the Boy Scouts of America.
“While we still have some reservations about individual units discriminating against gay adults, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of Scouting,” continued Wahls. “We look forward to collaborating with our supporters, progressive faith partners, allied non-profit organizations, and the Boy Scouts of America to ensure a fully inclusive Scouting movement.”
The resolution approved today ends the BSA’s decades-old ban on gay adults while reaffirming the First Amendment right of Boy Scout units chartered (i.e. legally sponsored) by religious organizations to select troop leaders in accordance with their religious principles. In effect, Boy Scout units sponsored by churches will have the right to continue discriminating against gay adults on a troop-by-troop basis. Boy Scout units sponsored by secular organizations will not be allowed to discriminate.
“We’re calling on gay Eagle Scouts, parents who are straight allies, non-profit organizations who support LGBT equality and anyone else who has walked away from the Boy Scouts to rejoin the fold,” continued Wahls. “Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive Scouting movement.”
Timeline of Scouts for Equality’s Campaign
April 2012 — Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian den mother from Ohio, is removed from her son’s Cub Scout unit because she is gay.
May 2012 — Zach Wahls, an LGBT rights advocate, Eagle Scout, and the son of a same-sex couple from Iowa known for his testimony before the Iowa legislature, delivers a Change.org petition started by Ms. Tyrrell to BSA leadership at their national meeting.
June 2012 — Zach Wahls teams up with Jonathan Hillis, a youth member of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board, and other Eagle Scouts to launch Scouts for Equality.
July 2012 — BSA reaffirms its ban against gay adults following a two-year review of the policy.
Fall 2012 — Scouts for Equality successfully petitions major BSA sponsors Intel and UPS to suspend their funding until BSA ends its discrimination, and Ryan Andresen, a gay Boy Scout from California, is denied his Eagle Scout award because of his sexual orientation.
January 2013 — The Boy Scouts of America announces it will reconsider its ban on gay youth and schedules a vote for May 2013.
Spring 2013 — Scouts for Equality leads an unprecedented national effort, working with GLAAD, HRC, the Inclusive Scouting Network and others, to win the May vote.
May 2013 — The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council votes 61% to 39% to end the organization’s ban on gay youth.
January 2014 — The new membership policy formally takes effect, ending the BSA’s ban on gay youth but maintaining the ban on gay adults.
April 2014 — The Boy Scouts of America revokes the charter of Seattle Troop 98, which refused to discriminate against its gay Scoutmaster.
Fall 2014 — Scouts for Equality works with David Boies and Boies, Schiller, Flexner, LLP to craft a legal challenge to the Boy Scouts of America’s continued ban on gay adults.
September 2014 — The Boy Scouts of America denies employment to Yasmin Cassini, a lesbian woman from Colorado, because of her sexual orientation—which is illegal in the state of Colorado.
March 2014 — Yasmin Cassini files a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the prelude to legal action.
April 2015 — The Greater New York Councils announce that they have hired Pascal Tessier, the nation’s first known openly gay Eagle Scout under the BSA’s new policy, to work at their summer camp in direct defiance of the BSA’s national ban. Later that month, the New York Attorney General’s office opens an investigation into Boy Scouts of America hiring practices across the state.
May 2015 — Amid mounting legal pressure, Boy Scouts of America President and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declares the ban “unsustainable,” and calls for its end.
July 13, 2015 — The Boy Scouts of America announces that its National Executive Committee has unanimously voted to end the organization’s ban on gay adults. The resolution advances to the National Executive Board for final approval.
July 27, 2015 — Three years and two weeks after reaffirming its ban on gay members, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board votes to end the organization’s decades-old national ban on gay adults, while affirming individual units’ ability to select leaders in line with its religious principles.
Scouts for Equality commends the decision and calls on gay Eagle Scouts, parents who are straight allies, non-profit organizations who support LGBT equality and anyone else who has walked away from the Boy Scouts to rejoin the movement.
About Scouts for Equality: Scouts for Equality is a national organization of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) members, former members, and community supporters that campaigns for an end to discrimination in the BSA. Scouts for Equality was founded in 2012 by straight Eagle Scouts. In the last three years, we have grown to more than 20,000 members—including 8,000 Eagle Scouts—have gathered more than 2.2 million petition signatures in support of ending the BSA’s ban on gay members, and successfully led the effort to end the BSA’s ban on both gay youth and adults.
By Zach Wahls
On 13, Jul 2015 | In scouting | By Zach Wahls
Media Contact: (319) 438-2246 or email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Boy Scouts of America announced that the National Executive Committee unanimously approved a resolution allowing gay adults to serve as employees and volunteers. A vote by the National Executive Board, the Boy Scouts’ governing body, is set for July 27th.
Based on the BSA’s documents, the change would:
- Eliminate the BSA’s across the board ban on openly gay or bisexual adults in scouting.
- Allow each individual troop or unit to determine its own policy regarding the eligibility of openly gay or bisexual scoutmasters or other adult leaders.
- Prohibit regional governing councils or non-Troop entities such as boy scouts camps from discriminating against employees and volunteers based on their sexual orientation.
- Allow previously removed leaders to reapply for their positions.
If ratified on Monday, July 27, the change will be effective immediately.
Following the announcement, Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, issued the following statement:
“Today’s announcement hopefully marks the beginning of the end of the Boy Scouts of America’s decades-old ban on gay leaders and parents like my two moms. In two weeks, the BSA’s national executive board will vote to ratify a resolution that has already been unanimously adopted by their executive committee.
“For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect—BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults—it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.
“The BSA has explicitly cited the work of Scouts for Equality members Pascal Tessier, an openly gay Eagle Scout working at a Boy Scouts summer camp in New York state, Yasmin Cassini, a lesbian woman from Colorado who was denied employment on the basis of her sexual orientation, and Brian Peffly, an openly gay Eagle Scout who until recently served as an assistant Scoutmaster in central Ohio. I could not be more proud of, or grateful for, the courage, strength, and dedication to the values of Scouting as demonstrated by Pascal, Yasmin, and Brian.”
The relevant portions of proposed resolution reads as follows (emphasis added). The full resolution can be downloaded here:
Regarding Employees and Non-unit Volunteers
Adult leaders in the programs of the Boy Scouts of America must (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and (c) demonstrate at all times behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and that is consistent with Scouting’s values and codes of conduct.
No adult applicant for registration as an employee or non-unit-serving volunteer, who otherwise meets the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America, may be denied registration on the basis of sexual orientation.
Regarding Religiously Affiliated Troops and Units
The Boy Scouts of America affirms the right of each chartering organization to reach its own religious and moral conclusions about the specific meaning and application of these values. The Boy Scouts of America further affirms the right of each chartering organization to select adult leaders who support those conclusions in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.
From the BSA’s frequently asked questions:
Can a gay adult be a Scoutmaster or unit leader?
Yes. If selected by the chartered organization, an otherwise qualified and eligible gay adult is eligible to serve as a unit leader.
By Zach Wahls
On 21, May 2015 | In scouting | By Zach Wahls
Dr. Robert Gates: “The Status Quo in Our Movement’s Membership Standards Cannot Be Sustained.”
Dr. Robert Gates: Boy Scouts Will Not Revoke Charters of Boy Scout Chapters That Do Not Enforce Ban on Gay Adults
Two Resolutions Concerning “Membership Standards” Referred to Executive Committee of BSA Executive Board for Further Review
Washington, D.C.—Today, Dr. Robert Gates, President of the Boy Scouts of America, called on the organization to end its ban on gay adults, stating that the “status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” in prepared remarks.
Dr. Gates went on to say that the BSA would not revoke the charters of Boy Scouts Councils that defied the organization’s ban on gay adults, explicitly mentioning the Denver Area Council and the Greater New York Council.
“This is another step forward for the Boy Scouts of America,” said Scouts for Equality executive director Zach Wahls. “I’m proud to see Dr. Gates chartering a course towards full equality in the BSA. While our work won’t be done until we see a full end to their ban on gay adults once and for all, today’s decision moves the Boy Scouts in that direction.”
Scouts for Equality has also confirmed that the BSA Resolutions Committee has referred two proposed resolutions requesting changes to the membership standards pertaining to adult gay leaders to the BSA’s Executive Committee, a standing leadership committee within the BSA’s Executive Board, the organization’s main governing body.
The BSA Resolutions Committee received 14 resolutions overall, and referred four to the Executive Committee, including two on membership standards. There are no votes on any resolutions at the business meeting this year.
“Dr. Gates has built his reputation on straight talk, and I’m glad he’s fully endorsing a re-evaluation of the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults,” continued Wahls. “It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a full vote within the next year or two is imminent.”
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