Boy Scouts of America does not end ban on gay Scouts and leaders; pressure on BSA grows

After more than a week of reports that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) would consider lifting its national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, the organization’s Board of Directors decided in a closed door meeting today to form a task force to study the issue, and will in the interim keep the discriminatory policy on the books -- preventing openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders from serving in the organization.

Gay Scouts and Scout leaders, as well as GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, have been working for more than nine months to end the BSA’s discriminatory ban. More than 1.4 million people have signed onto their petitions on 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 after their Board meeting concluded.

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," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell. "The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again. No parents 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.”

“Our fight will continue,” added Tyrrell, “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, said that today’s news was simply not a strong enough gesture from the Boy Scouts of America to ensure that they take discrimination seriously.

"This is an abdication of responsibility. 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," said Wahls.

"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," said 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."

"On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America received 1.4 million petition signatures urging the organization to end it's national policy banning gay youth and parents, and today, those voices went unanswered," said Change.org Senior Campaign Manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum. "With 9 national campaigns and over 50 local campaigns already launched on Change.org calling for an end to the BSA's policy, how many more stories of gay youth and leaders, like Ryan Andresen and Jen Tyrrell, need to surface before the Boy Scouts decide to end this policy?"

You can contact the Boy Scouts and tell them to end the ban here.

You can see a timeline of some of the most significant milestones in the decades-long effort to get this ban overturned, including highlights from GLAAD's involvement, here.

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