The Boy Scouts announced Tuesday it will stick with its ban on gay Scouts and leaders, claiming that the announcement follows a two-year study.
The announcement, coincidentally, takes place days after Dallas Voice’s cover story about the discriminatory policy and a day after ousted Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell announced a visit to the group’s headquarters in Irving on Wednesday.
According to the Associated Press, “An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, ‘came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.’”
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called the Boy Scouts’ decision to reaffirm the policy “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.”
“With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued,” Griffin said. ‘These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”
NGLTF Deputy executive Director Darlene Nipper said she was deeply disappointed and that discrimination is never the right policy.
“Clinging to a policy of exclusion and intolerance is hardly a good lesson for our young people,” Nipper said. “Once again, officials of the Boy Scouts of America have turned their backs on a chance to demonstrate fairness, exercise sound judgment, and serve as a role model for valuing others, free of bias and prejudice.”
Tyrrell is coming to Dallas with a representative from Change.org and plans to deliver a petition with 300,000 signatures that calls for an end to the ban on gays in the Scouts. Tyrrell and Change.org’s Mark Anthony Dingbaum will be at Boy Scouts headquarters on Walnut Hill Lane in Irving on Wednesday at 10 a.m. to deliver the petition.
They also hope to meet with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to present a petition urging him to be proactive in making a change within the Boy Scouts. Stephenson is in line to become president of the Boy Scouts in 2014.
The AP story claims that Stephenson “will likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups to try to end the exclusion policy.” But within AT&T, Stephenson’s policies have been for inclusion and equality. Last year, he instituted a review of all policies to make sure LGBT employees in the various segments of the company that have come together through merger have benefits equal to straight employees.
The BSA has shown how serious it is about adhering to its policy.
On Sunday, Eagle Scout Eric Jones, 19, was kicked out of the Scouts after he came out to the director of the summer camp in Missouri. He was immediately removed from the camp.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, didn’t return calls seeking comment Tuesday morning.
The Boys Scouts full statement reaffirming the group’s ban on gays is after the jump.
Organization to Take No Further Action on Resolution Requesting Revision of Policy
IRVING, TEXAS – After careful consideration of a resolution asking the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its longstanding membership standards policy, today the organization affirmed its current policy, stating that it remains in the best interest of Scouting and that there will be no further action taken on the resolution.
This decision follows a nearly two-year-long examination, started in 2010, of the policy commissioned by the Chief Scout Executive and national president. Under their leadership, the BSA convened a special committee of volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy continued to be in the best interest of the organization.
The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions. The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth.
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America. “While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
Following the recommendation to affirm the BSA’s membership policy, the executive committee of the BSA National Executive Board released the following statement: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”
Resolutions asking the BSA both to affirm and reconsider this policy have been raised throughout the years. With any resolution, regardless of subject, the BSA may or may not refer it to a committee for review or may immediately determine no further action is necessary.