Norman Rockwell painting in the Boy Scouts of America Museum collection in Irving

Local groups responded Tuesday to the Boy Scouts of America announcement that the group won’t change its discrimination policy of exclusion of gay Scouts and leaders from the organization. Although last week the Scouts said they were not studying the issue, this morning they announced that the new decision was the result of a two-year study.

Jennifer Tyrrell, who is in Dallas to deliver a petition to the Boy Scouts on Wednesday, issued a statement through GLAAD.

“A secret committee of 11 people can’t ignore the hundreds of thousands of people around the country — including thousands of Eagle Scouts, Scout families, and former Scouts — that want the ban on gay Scouts and scout leaders removed,” Tyrrell said. “This campaign doesn’t stop, and we will continue to show the Boy Scouts that discrimination and intolerance have no place in scouting. On Wednesday, I look forward to sharing with the BSA thousands of comments from families like mine that say the time is now to end this anti-gay policy.”

Resource Center Dallas said, “With this announcement, the Boy Scouts are choosing to remain mired in the past instead of embracing a more inclusive future.”

Fairness Fort Worth issued the following statement:

The Boy Scouts of America has chosen to continue to ban gay boys from participating in Scouting and gay parents from volunteering as leaders. BSA has a constitutional right to do so but what a horrible message it sends to those excluded from and those included in Scouting.

BSA describes itself as “the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training …” Those in the LGBT community have been vilified, marginalized and stereotyped for such a long time and the BSA’a stance just continues the practice. So what kind of “character development” and what “values” is it talking about? This country was founded on principles of inclusiveness, diversity, respect and acceptance of that diversity. Apparently not the Boy Scouts.

As the trial in the Proposition 8 case clearly demonstrated, there is no factual or legal basis for treating those in the LGBT community as second-class citizens, so what exact reasons do the Boy Scouts have for doing so?

A straight boy asks his Scout leader why his gay best friend can’t join. What’s the answer? What answer will be given that doesn’t depict his gay friend in some negative light? What answer will be given that doesn’t call that friendship into question? Character development, value-based leadership training?

The Boy Scouts of America has given up a tremendous opportunity to be in the forefront of respect and equality for all and it’s just a shame.

GetEQUAL Texas state lead Michael Diviesti said, “Children are unnecessarily being taught that LGBT children are different. We see it in many arenas. We have a law in Texas that homosexuality must be taught as an unacceptable lifestyle. It’s part of an extremist mentality that tries to raise a next generation of bigots through indoctrination.”