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.

—  Anna Waugh

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.

—  Anna Waugh

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for coverage of Boy Scouts meeting in Grapevine

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Supporters of lifting the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts will convene today for the first day of a three-day Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine.

At noon, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son will arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, completing their 1,800 mile Bike for Equality campaign that began when they left Idaho Falls on May 3.

McGrath, Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls and Inclusive Scouting Network founder Mark Noel will address the audience.

Gay Scouts and leaders will then speak, including former Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, a gay dad removed from his position as Scoutmaster with his son’s troop, and Pascal Tessier, a gay Boy Scout who was told he would not be eligible to earn the Eagle award his older brother received.

Events for the summit will take place today at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fallen Timber A Meeting Room. They are expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

Across the street at the Gaylord Texan, where the roughly 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution tomorrow, opponents of allowing gays Scouts will protest at Texas Values’ Save Our Scouts rally from noon to 4 p.m.

Dallas Voice will be in Grapevine to capture all the excitement and will be tweeting live from the press conferences and rally. Follow us on Twitter here.

Yesterday 20 members of Congress signed a letter supporting the resolution to welcome gay youth into the BSA. Among them was Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“As part of its mission, the BSA seeks to instill traditionally American values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of others in youth scouts in preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship,” the letter reads in part. “Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. We are pleased to learn that the National Council will soon take up a resolution at the May 22nd meeting to update its membership standards policy. We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth.”

Read the full letter here.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Gay Scouts, leaders deliver petitions to BSA headquarters

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Jennifer Tyrrell speaks about having to leave her position with the Boy Scouts like other parents who are gay. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Below is a video from today’s delivery of four Change.org petitions started by gay Scouts to the BSA’s Irving headquarters.

Former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell and assistant Scoutmaster Greg Bourke spoke about their leadership experiences in the Boy Scouts and the hardship of having to step down from their positions because of their sexual orientation.

Perhaps the most powerful speech was given by Eric Andresen, the father of a gay Scout who was denied his Eagle Scout Award after coming out. Andresen spoke about how painful it is to be a parent and watch your son be denied an award he had worked for over several years only to see him not receive it because of the Scouts’ gay ban.

Watch it below.

—  Anna Waugh

Gov. Perry, President Obama weigh in on proposed BSA policy change

The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News on Monday to encourage the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board to add a nondiscrimination policy.

Today the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board will begin discussing a proposed policy change to allow local troops to decide to let in gay Scouts and leaders.

A decision on whether remove the national gay ban is expected Wednesday.

Lesbian former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell will be at the Scouts’ Irving headquarters at 11 a.m. to deliver petitions started by her, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award. The petitions have garnered 1.4 million combined signatures.

The issue has brought about heated debates on both sides as some people are against the decision while others think it doesn’t go far enough. The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in today’s Dallas Morning News, above, encouraging the board to go beyond removing the no-gays requirement and adding a national nondiscrimination policy.

Gov. Rick Perry chimed in this weekend while addressing hundreds of Scouts at the state House during the Texas Scouts’ 64th annual Report to State.

Perry, an Eagle Scout, told reporters his views on homosexuality haven’t changed his writing his book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, and hoped the national position would remain the same.

“Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make scouting this very important and impactful organization,” Perry said.

President Barack Obama also spoke about the issue during a pre-Super Bowl interview, calling scouting a “great institution” that should welcome gay members and leaders. He said the organization provided youth with lifelong leadership and character building training and “no one should be barred from that.”

Watch the clip of Obama below.

—  Anna Waugh