Mark Noel is an Eagle Scout (Birmingham Area Council, 1987), Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow (Cherokee 50, 1991), and a graduate of BSA’s National Camping School (Shooting Sports Director, 1997). He has served on staff for three BSA summer camps (Birmingham, Atlanta, and New Hampshire) as waterfront staff, trading post manager, shooting sports director, and scoutmaster for Trail to Eagle troops. He was serving as the Assistant Scoutmaster and a merit badge counselor for Troop 45 in Hanover, NH when he was kicked out of the BSA by council and national officials — over the objections of his troop, the parents, and the church where they had been meeting for 60 years — when he revealed that he was gay in a local newspaper article immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Boy Scouts v. Dale.
After losing all his appeals with the BSA, he founded a regional Coalition for Inclusive Scouting in late 2000, several of which eventually merged into the national Inclusive Scouting Network. He developed several programs including the “Inclusive Scouting Award” square knot program, written articles and op-eds for major newspapers and magazines, and has made many media appearances. He also coordinated the ISN presence, press conferences, and events at the BSA’s National Annual Meetings in 2002 (Boston), 2003 (Philadelphia), and 2004 (Chicago), in addition to assisting with the Equal Scouting Summit co-hosted with Scouts for Equality in 2013.
In addition to his Scouting work, he served for two years as the president of the LGBT law student group at the University of Wisconsin Law school, coordinating participation in several national actions including the litigation against the Solomon Amendment and FOIA requests to the Department of Defense regarding DoD’s domestic surveillance of LGBT student groups. He was also a speaker for Fair Wisconsin in 2006 during the campaign to defeat the anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot that year. After graduating law school, he entered private practice in New York and Washington DC as an intellectual property litigator with Latham & Watkins, where he also served as pro bono counsel on three litigations with the ACLU. Two of those cases were with the ACLU’s national LGBT & AIDS project, and both concerned public school officials who outed gay and lesbian teenagers against their will to their parents, schools, and communities.