Our Mission, Vision, & Values
Scouts for Equality is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization committed to ensuring that the Boy Scouts of America continues to be an organization that contributes positively to the lives of America’s young people. As Scouts, leaders, parents, volunteers, and supporters, we believe that inclusion and mutual respect are traditional Scouting values integral to building character, developing leadership, and promoting good citizenship. We will continue to strive for a Scouting movement that is rooted in equality and is free of discrimination.
The vision of Scouts for Equality is of an inclusive, vibrant, and strong Boy Scouts of America in which members, leaders, parents, volunteers, and supporters treat each other with mutual respect and acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of all people.
The values of the Scout Law and the creed of the Scout Oath will guide Scouts for Equality’s continued work.
Where We’ve Been
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) first implemented its blanket ban on openly gay members and leaders in 1978, and maintained that ban for decades. This ban endured numerous legal challenges at the state and federal level, including a 2000 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States affirming the Boy Scouts of America’s constitutional right to discrimination in the 5-4 decision of BSA v. Dale.
Following a decade of rapid progress for LGBTQ rights in the United States, the BSA’s ban re-entered the national spotlight in April 2012 when Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian Den Mother from Ohio, was ousted from her son’s Cub Scout Pack. From June 2012 to May 2013, Scouts for Equality worked relentlessly to increase public awareness of the Boy Scouts of America’s discriminatory membership standard and urging BSA leaders to end the ban as quickly as possible. On May 23, 2013—just ten months after doubling down on the policy of discrimination—BSA leadership voted to end the BSA’s ban on gay youth with 61.3% voting in favor.
Over the next year, Scouts for Equality launched a multifaceted strategy aiming to continue pressure on BSA to finish off their blanket ban on gay adults once and for all. On July 27, 2015, the Boy Scouts of America’s Executive Board voted to end the BSA’s blanket ban on gay adults with 79% voting in favor. Three years, one month, and twenty-one days after the founding of Scouts for Equality, our primary objective had been achieved, but plenty of work remains to both help Scouting heal its wounds and to continue to strengthen diversity and inclusion with the Boy Scouts of America.
During all this time, the BSA had never implemented a formal policy on transgender Scouts and Scouters. Scouts for Equality felt it prudent to adopt a “wait and see” approach, so as not to provoke a situation which could potentially lead to a formal policy of discrimination. However, on December 27, 2016, less than 2 years after ending the ban on gay adults, the BSA forced this issue by removing Joe Maldonado, an 8-year old transgender boy, from his Cub Scout pack in New Jersey. Scouts for Equality joined with Garden State Equality to speak out on Joe’s behalf and to inform Scouts and Scouters of this injustice. Meanwhile, Joe and his mother attracted significant media attention and shared his story with the world. On January 30, 2017, a little over a month from when the news broke, the BSA changed course. Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh addressed the BSA via a video recording, announcing that the BSA would begin accepting boys based on the gender identity indicated on the application – not their birth certificate.