Gay Scouts, leaders to converge on BSA headquarters Monday

Posted on 01 Feb 2013 at 4:54pm
8.Scouts

Ousted lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrell, shown delivering petitions in July, will help deliver another batch on Monday.

As Boy Scouts leaders gather to consider softening the organization’s ban on gays, several pro-LGBT former Scouts and leaders will deliver 1.4 million signatures to the national headquarters in Irving.

Change.org announced Friday that the former Scouts and leaders will deliver the petitions at 11 a.m. Monday to the Boy Scouts’s National Headquarters on West Walnut Hill Lane, where the organization’s Board of Directors will be meeting.

The petitions will be delivered by lesbian former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award.

On Wednesday, the Scouts’ Board of Directors is expected to vote on whether to lift the organization’s national ban on gay Scouts and leaders. The policy change under consideration reportedly would allow local troops to decide whether to allow gays.

“More than 1 million people have joined Change.org campaigns urging the Boy Scouts of America to end their national anti-gay policy, and [Monday], those signers are seeing their work and their support delivered right to the Boy Scouts of America, for one final push as the Boy Scout board determines the future of the organization,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager at Change.org. “Jennifer Tyrrell, Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, and the Andresen family have proven that long-standing institutions of discrimination are no match for cutting-edge online tools and powerful storytelling.”

“Millions have been moved to speak out in favor of ending the anti-gay ban from across religions, race, and political backgrounds including current scouts and corporate sponsors,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “While an end to the ban will strengthen scouting and stop the harm it caused to so many young gay people, the campaign for change will continue until the national policy is one where every young gay person is allowed to participate.”

Read Change.org’s full press release is below.

GAY SCOUTS AND LEADERS TO DELIVER 1.4 MILLION SIGNATURES URGING END OF BOY SCOUTS’ GAY BAN

Former gay den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award, will deliver 1.4 million signatures from their combined Change.org petitions;

Signatures to be delivered to the Boy Scouts of America’s national office in Irving, Texas, as the organization’s board considers an end to the national ban on gay Scouts and leaders

DALLAS, TX – As the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America gather for an historic meeting to discuss an end to the organization’s national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, four Scout leaders whose petitions on Change.org sparked a national movement to end the Scouts’ anti-gay policy will all travel to Dallas to deliver 1.4 million signatures from their combined Change.org petitions.

When: Monday, February 4, 11:00am CT
Where: Boy Scouts of America’s National Headquarters, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, Texas 75015
Who: Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was ousted as den leader of her 7-year-old son’s Cub Scout pack for being gay; Will Oliver, a gay Eagle Scout; Greg Bourke, who was removed as den leader of his son’s Boy Scout troop because he’s gay; and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Boy Scout in California who was denied his Eagle Award because he’s gay. All four will read short statements at the petition delivery, and take questions from reporters.

Last Monday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that their Board of Directors would consider a proposal that would allow local Scout councils to determine whether to accept gay Scouts and gay leaders, a move that would essentially end the national ban on gay members and leave decisions about inclusion up to local units.

Tyrrell ignited a national movement last year after she was let go as Den Leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because she is gay. Working with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), she started a Change.org petition demanding that she be reinstated, garnering more than 330,000 signatures. She led a second Change.org campaign asking the CEOs of Ernst & Young and AT&T, both of whom sit on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, to speak out against the organization’s ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

Andresen will present Change.org petition signatures on behalf of his son, Ryan, who in October 2012 was told that he could not receive his Eagle Scout award because of his sexual orientation. Ryan’s story became a national phenomenon, and he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with his mother, Karen, to speak out against the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

Bourke, who will travel to Dallas with his partner and their two children, will present signatures from his Change.org petition, which he started after he was removed as the Assistant Scoutmaster for the Lincoln Heritage Council in Louisville, Kentucky, because of his sexual orientation.

Will Oliver, a 20-year-old gay Eagle Scout, will present signatures from his Change.org petition, which earlier this year called on the National Geographic Channel to speak out against the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy. The channel is slated to air “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?” this spring in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.

These petitions, plus more than 50 others that have been started on Change.org urging the Boy Scouts to end their national ban on gay Scouts and leaders, total more than 1.4 million signatures.

“More than 1 million people have joined Change.org campaigns urging the Boy Scouts of America to end their national anti-gay policy, and today, those signers are seeing their work and their support delivered right to the Boy Scouts of America, for one final push as the Boy Scout board determines the future of the organization,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, senior campaign manager at Change.org. “Jennifer Tyrrell, Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, and the Andresen family have proven that long-standing institutions of discrimination are no match for cutting-edge online tools and powerful storytelling.”

“Millions have been moved to speak out in favor of ending the anti-gay ban from across religions, race, and political backgrounds including current scouts and corporate sponsors,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “While an end to the ban will strengthen scouting and stop the harm it caused to so many young gay people, the campaign for change will continue until the national policy is one where every young gay person is allowed to participate.”

“This is an historic day for Scouting,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality. “We will continue to work with the BSA to implement further non-discrimination measures and bring them into line with the giving requirements for their corporate donors. We all want a healthy, vibrant Scouting movement that can foster lifelong values and principles in our next generation of leaders–with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Journalists interested in setting up an interview with Jennifer Tyrrell, Eric Andresen, Greg Bourke, or Will Oliver should use the contact information at the top of the page. Wahls, who founded Scouts for Equality after launching his own Change.org petition calling for the Boy Scouts’ Board of Directors to vote on ending the anti-gay ban, is available in New York City to speak with journalists interested in covering the Boy Scouts’ historic vote.

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