Boy Scouts will lead NYC Pride march

BSAIrving-based Boy Scouts of America have been sentinels standing fast against the gay scourge since at least 1978, when the official policy of the group began prohibiting gay scouts and parents from participating in the program. Despite a few gestures of tolerance in recent months, the BSA is not exactly an all-inclusive organization. That said, the 104-year-old Greater New York Councils of the BSA has an express policy never to exclude anyone from its members troops for reasons of sexual orientation. “We strongly believe that both gay adults and youth must be welcomed in Scouting,” the councils assert.

Still, it’s a pretty significant thing that New York City’s upcoming Pride march will be led by active and former members of the Boy Scouts, GLAAD announced. They will lead the 14,000 participants down Fifth Avenue in support of gay rights.

Of course, while that might not be the official policy set forth from Texas HQ, the BSA’s new president, Robert Gates, has said the national group would support local councils’ decisions on gay leadership.

The march takes place on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas church kicks out Boy Scout troop for gay admission policy

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Don Huffines

Incoming Texas state Sen. Don Huffines isn’t happy with Northwest Bible Church kicking out the Boy Scout troop he led until October. But he’s not at all happy with the policy adopted last year to allow the inclusion of gay Scouts up to the age of 18.

The church made no public statement but indicated the new policy allowing gay Scouts goes against their principles. The church is located on Douglas Avenue at Northwest Highway.

Huffines resigned from his leadership position with the troop in October 2013 to challenge state Sen. John Carona in the March primary. Huffines won the primary and has no challenger in November. His district includes parts of Oak Lawn.

According to Preston Hollow People, Huffines said, “I think it was a big mistake what BSA did. They said they were not going to change the policy, and then eight months later they came back and changed it. The national leadership of the BSA cannot be trusted. They can’t be trusted not to open the door for more infiltration from the gay agenda. Eventually we’ll have gay scouts and gay scoutmasters and gay troops. They’ll keep coming until their mission is fulfilled.”

Robert Gates, former defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is the newly appointed president of the Boy Scouts and the national leadership that Huffines can’t trust.

The troop is part of Circle Ten Council, which includes Dallas and 11 other North Texas counties. Circle Ten CEO Pat Currie said his council has 54,000 Scouts and is not aware of any who have declared their homosexuality.

“It’s not about if you’re gay or straight. It’s about who you are as a person,” Currie said. “I haven’t found a church yet who said they would remove someone from the church just because they said they were gay.”

Despite Currie’s assurances that no church would throw out a gay kid, the odds are next to zero that out of 54,000 Scouts, not one has come out. Either Currie is oblivious or his organization remains a completely unsafe place for gay kids to be honest about who they are.

—  David Taffet

Lockheed Martin cuts ties to Boy Scouts over gay leader ban

lockheed_martin_logo_miLockheed Martin announced Thursday that it would end donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s ban on gay adult leaders.

The decision came after a review of the company’s philanthropy guidelines to evaluate its 2014 priorities, The Associated Press reports.

While the BSA’s National Council voted in May to lift the ban on gay Scouts, the organization continued to prevent gay leaders from serving among its ranks.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Johndroe said Lockheed Martin was glad for the change, but opposes the continued ban on gay leaders.

Lockheed follows UPS Inc., Merck & Co. and Intel in cutting ties to the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in recent years.

Johndroe said the company decided to end relationships with nonprofits that don’t share its corporate policies or commitment to diversity.

“We believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies,” he said in a statement. “While we applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities, their policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation conflict with Lockheed Martin policies.”

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Irving-based Boy Scouts, said Lockheed Martin was not a national sponsor but has had a positive impact by supporting Scouting in local communities.

“We respect the company’s right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” he wrote in an email. “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

—  Dallasvoice

New BSA president is former Secretary of Defense who helped end DADT

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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be the new president of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board, the BSA announced Wednesday.

Gates, an Eagle Scout, will serve as an executive vice president and national president-elect upon the approval of the National Council in May. After the council’s approval, he would serve a two-year term as the BSA national president and lead the National Executive Board, which guides the BSA as it serves approximately 2.6 million youth members.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said in a statement. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.”

As Secretary of Defense, Gates helped oversee the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay military members. The choice is an interesting one for the Irving-based organization, which has a storied past of discriminating against openly gay Scouts and volunteers. In May, the national council voted to allow openly gay Scouts, but not adult leaders.

Gates has a long history with the BSA, having served as a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association and being awarded the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Emotional reaction to Boy Scouts’ decision to lift ban on gay youth

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Ousted lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell hugs her son Cruz after learning the results of the Boy Scouts vote to allow gay youth. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

It was a touching scene in Grapevine Thursday when LGBT advocates who’ve worked for inclusion in the Boy Scouts were able to celebrate the victory of coming closer to their goal.

The BSA will begin allowing openly gay Scouts in January, but the ban on gay leaders will remain in place.

Those who’ve fought for full inclusion said they’re focus will remain on the Scouts until all gays are welcome in the organization.

Former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell said that in a year the American people were able to tell the BSA that they wanted the policy to change, so she has hope that the voices of allies will continue to be heard in the future.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice

‘It’s acceptable to be gay now’

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MIXED EMOTIONS | Ousted lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, left, and gay Scout Pascal Tessier speak during a press conference Thursday, May 23, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, after the Boy Scouts of America announced it had voted to lift its ban on gay youth. Despite the vote, the Irving-based BSA will continue to bar gay adult leaders and employees. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Out Scouts, leaders celebrate BSA’s decision to lift ban on gay youth, but vow to keep fighting until LGBT leaders, employees can also serve

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

GRAPEVINE — Gay youth members of the Boy Scouts of America will no longer face being kicked out because of their sexual orientation after BSA leadership voted to lift a 22-year ban.

The 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council passed a resolution Thursday, May 23, requiring troops everywhere to welcome gay youth.

The historic vote comes more than a year after Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell was removed from her position for being gay. Her removal created a national outrage and launched a national campaign with GLAAD to end the ban.
Cheers rang out as Tyrrell and others gathered in Grapevine hugged each other and cried after learning the result of the vote, which passed with more than 60 percent support. Family and friends shook their heads in joyful disbelief that years of work had paid off. Tyrrell called the resolution’s passage a first step, but said she and others will continue to push for full inclusion. The BSA will continue to ban gay adult leaders like Tyrrell, as well as LGBT employees.

“We will continue until there’s equality for all,” Tyrrell said, adding that her son, Cruz, is the reason she fights. “The Boy Scouts still tell him his moms aren’t good enough. Everyday they tell him his family is different and that’s not OK. He has a great family. He’s very loved. The BSA needs to recognize that they’re hurting him and others like him.”

Paschal Tessier, a gay Maryland Scout who faced not receiving his Eagle Scout Award because of the ban, was overcome with joy. He called his older brother, who is a gay Eagle Scout, to tell him the news back home. But he said the organization hasn’t solved the issue of equality because gay leaders are still barred from BSA ranks.

“It’s acceptable to be gay now,” he said. “But they’re trying to solve one form of discrimination with another. The adults in this that actually made this happen, now they’re not going to able to be Scouts like I am.”
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, said the fight is renewed to include gay adults leaders like his two moms who were involved with him in Scouting.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but our fight goes on,” Wahls said.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement calling this “a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution.”

“But the new policy doesn’t go far enough,” he added. “Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

HRC also noted that the Boy Scouts still bans gay employees and called for the organization to adopt an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy across the board.

Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox called Thursday’s vote a “half-measure.”

“It is a step forward from their previous position, but not a full solution,” she said. ” It tells gay Scouts that they can take part in their troops, but once they reach adulthood, they will be denied the ability to lead. It also excludes open LGBT adult leadership in the Scouts, thereby maintaining a system of ‘less-than’ status. Scouting should not rest and pat itself on the back for only lifting the ban on gay Scouts; they should take the next step and lift it for adult leadership as well.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who has been outspoken in support of the ban, said he was “greatly disappointed with the decision.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins echoed Perry’s comments.

“It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups,” Perkins said in a statement. “There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents.”

The decision takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. A task force to help with the implementation was already been created.
Wahls said his organization will ensure the policy goes into effect and be a watchdog over councils in the event that gay Scouts face discrimination.

Leading up to the vote, dozens of protesters held signs outside the Gaylord Texan that read “No on the resolution” to greet council members meeting there.

Across the street at the Great Wolf Lodge, gay Scouts and allies held an Equal Scouting Summit, sharing emotional stories about the negative impact of the gay ban and how changing it would help Scouting survive in America.

The Boy Scouts ban on gay Scouts and leaders began in 1991 when the organization determined open homosexuals went against the part of the Scout Oath that mandates members be “morally straight.”

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban in a 2000 case when justices ruled that the private organization could choose its membership.

Even though gay Scouts have been kicked out and leaders removed for being gay, many still continued to serve quietly or with the approval of their local troop.

After Tyrrell was removed, AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson and Ernest & Young CEO Jim Turley, members of BSA’s Executive Board, then joined forces to discuss the ban in February. The board decided to postpone a decision until the National Council could vote.

The compromise to only allow gay youth was announced in April after the organization surveyed parents and leaders. But with 70 percent of troops chartered by faith-based organizations, the debate continued to draw backlash from conservatives. The Mormon and the Roman Catholic churches came out in favor of the compromise.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Scenes from Wednesday’s Equal Scouting Summit

Eric Hay, who earned his Eagle Scout through Dallas-based Circle Ten Council, speaks about how he left Boy Scouts after he came out and was not allowed to be an adult leader. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Eric Hay, who earned his Eagle Scout through Dallas-based Circle Ten Council, speaks about how he left Boy Scouts after he came out and was not allowed to be an adult leader. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Boy Scouts of America will announce a historic vote this afternoon after the 1,400 members of its National Council weigh in on whether gay youth should be allowed to participate the organization.

LGBT advocates for the change and protesters were in Grapevine on Wednesday to voice their opinions on the compromise to welcome gay Scouts but not adult leaders.

BSA President Wayne Perry had an op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday that called for the measure’s passage, saying BSA “policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children.”

Watch video from Wednesday’s Equal Scouting Summit below.

—  Dallasvoice

Gay Scouts call for end to ban in advance of National Council vote

Gay Scouts and leaders participate in panel about how the Boy Scouts’ gay ban affected them during the Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine on May 22, 2013. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Gay Scouts and leaders participate in a panel about how the Boy Scouts’ gay ban affected them, during the Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine on Thursday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

GRAPEVINE — LGBT advocates called on the Boy Scouts of America Wednesday afternoon to pass a resolution that would welcome gay youth into its ranks, so the organization can remain relevant in an accepting America.

In a crowded meeting room at the Great Wolf Lodge, dozens of advocates for the resolution listened to two panels of leaders and Scouts who’d been affected by the national gay ban during the first day of the Equal Scouting Summit.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality, spoke about his time in the Scouts with his two moms. He said the push for inclusive Scouting has grown over the past year, adding that full inclusion of gay leaders also needs to happen with a BSA nondiscrimination policy.

“It is clear that if Scouting is not willing to move forward on this issue, it will be left behind,” Wahls said, adding that Scouting is too much of an American institution to lose it over hate. “We cannot afford to lose this great cultural icon.”

Maryland Scout Pascal Tessier will be directly affected by the vote the National Council takes Thursday. He is months away from receiving his Eagle Scout Award, only having to complete his leadership service project over the summer to be eligible. But his being an openly gay Scout will prevent him from receiving an honor he’s worked toward since he was 7.

Tessier said he was told that his council likely would not approve the award if the resolution fails. And he will miss out on the joy of receiving the honor that his older brother, who is also gay, received years ago.

“Being gay doesn’t define who I am,” he said. “But because I want to stand up for what I believe is right, I won’t be able to get my Eagle Scout Award like my brother did.”

Tessier told Dallas Voice that he didn’t even think about being kicked out when he decided to come out as a gay Scout, wanting to “put a voice to the people who can’t come out.”

“I thought I should be here for all people that can’t,” he said.

—  Dallasvoice

Kessler Park UMC backs Boy Scouts’ proposal to allow gay youth

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Kessler Park United Methodist Church has made its stance on inclusion in the Boy Scouts clear to its members today.

The church posted on its Facebook that it hoped the National Council votes this week to “adopt the resolution eliminating heterosexuality as a requirement for a youth’s participation in scouting.”

Troop 5 is charted by the church and is one of the oldest troops in Dallas. Methodist churches are the second-largest sponsors of troops nationwide.

“Our church, we would assert, has long experience attempting to reconcile diversity, security, and godliness,” the post reads. “We believe that Christ’s teachings, as well as the Scout Oath and Law which flow from Christ’s words, call us to welcome all persons of good will in the training of children to become wholesome adults.”

The BSA National Council will vote on the resolution to only admit gay youth at its meeting later this week.

Read Kessler Park UMC’s full statement below.

—  Dallasvoice

Equal Scouting Summit to take place next week when BSA discusses gay ban

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Scouts for Equality and the Inclusive Scouting Network are holding a national Equal Scouting Summit next week while the Boy Scouts’ National Council debates whether or not to allow gay youth.

The event will bring together national leaders and discuss how to make the BSA more inclusive moving forward. Jennifer Tyrrell, Zach Wahls, Greg Bourke, Will Oliver and Eagle Scout Dave McGrath, who is biking 1,800 miles with his son for equality, are among the speakers.

The Voice of the Gay Scout project will also be a part of the summit. Gay Scouts are encouraged to send letters about what they would say to members of the BSA’s National Council. Scouts and allies will bring the letters to the National Council and read them aloud. Letters can be sent to voice@inclusivescouting.net.

The summit is May 22-24 at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive in Grapevine.

For more information or to RSVP, go here.

—  Dallasvoice