By Zach Wahls
On 24, May 2014 | In Campaign News | By Zach Wahls
A Scout is Brave: Scouts for Equality Demands Robert Gates Leads by the Courage of His Convictions
Nashville, TN—Friday evening, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, an Eagle Scout, announced that he supports full inclusion of gay adults in the Boy Scouts, but that he is unwilling to re-open the debate over the controversial policy that prohibits gay adults (18 and over) from participating in Scouting. In response, Scouts for Equality called on Gates to abide by the Scout Law by being brave and leading with the courage of his convictions.
Gates’ announcement came during a speech following his formal election as President of the Boy Scouts.
In response to the statement from Gates, Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, issued the following statement:
“We’re glad to have the support of Mr. Gates, and we hope now that he will do what all Eagle Scouts are charged to do: lead. His characterization of last year’s decision as ‘democratic’ is unfortunate and untrue, as the resolution limiting inclusion to only youth was crafted by a small, unelected committee more concerned with avoiding criticism than with following the principles of the Scout Oath and Law.”
“Mr. Gates expressed that he believes Scouting should be a place where youth should not fear being bullied or disrespected, but I don’t know how else you would characterize being told ‘you are unfit to continue Scouting after your eighteenth birthday.’”
“This is a cop out, and it tarnishes the legacy Mr. Gates has built as a leader who bridged cultural and political divides and led the military—and now the Boy Scouts—into the twenty-first century.”
“Knowing that he’s on our side—and the right side of history—makes us hopeful that he’ll turn away from the small cadre of culture warriors whose message of fear and division has led the Boy Scouts further and further from the American mainstream.”
In prepared remarks distributed to reporters, Gates is credited with saying:
Finally, let me address the membership issue, an issue that has left us divided, distracted and defensive. A year ago, this meeting saw a respectful and civil debate over membership policy. In a democratic process, a strong majority of the volunteer leadership of this movement from all across the nation voted to welcome gay youth into scouting. In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in CIA and in the military.
That said, I accept the vote of a year ago, and I strongly support it. And, in its implementation, Scouting must provide a welcoming and safe environment for gay youth, a place where they can benefit from Scouting and not face bullying or disrespect.
The Boy Scouts of America have rescinded their promise to include gay youth up to the age of 21 in some of their programs. Now all scouts above the age of 18 will be required to register as adults.
This means that those gay Scouts who were between the ages of 18 and 21 are now no longer eligible.
It’s a sad day for Scouting when the BSA backtracks on a promise. We were taught that “A Scout is Trustworthy”.
Included is a clip where Nathan Rosenberg (BSA Executive Committee) pledges to include gay youth up to 21 in last year’s Membership Standards Livecast:
Twins August and Liam Easton-Calabria have been in Scouting since they were 11 years old. They even earned the exact same merit badges on the trail to Eagle. But now one faces getting kicked out because they have reached age 18: August is straight, while Liam is gay.
Read the full story here: http://mynorthwest.com/76/2517173/One-twin-brother-will-be-kicked-out-of-Boy-Scouts-because-hes-gay
Today, Scouts for Equality called upon the Boy Scouts of America to rehire ousted Eagle Scout Garrett Bryant, who was refused reinstatement as a camp counselor after a rumor spread that he was gay. The move comes less than a month after the BSA revoked the charter of a Seattle-area troop for refusing to fire Geoff McGrath, an openly gay Scoutmaster.
“Bob Gates, the BSA’s incoming President, knows that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ just doesn’t work,” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. “A policy of discrimination at any level results in the sort of fear we see at work in the Scouts’ ouster of Garrett. Garrett is an exemplary Scout who should be rehired immediately.”
Bryant, who is 19 years old, is a youth member of a BSA Venturing Crew in Flagstaff, Ariz., where he is attending Northern Arizona University. As a youth member, he falls under the BSA’s recently adopted policy allowing the participation of all youth members, regardless of their sexuality.
“If the Scouts were to call me tomorrow and offer to rehire me, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” said Bryant.
A “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy didn’t work in the US Military and it doesn’t work in Scouting.
If you are having similar issues with the BSA’s policy, Scouts for Equality wants to hear about it. Check out our Guide to Coming Out for Scouts and use the form to tell us about your issues: http://scoutsforequality.com/comingout
Church Pledges to Resist BSA’s Demand and Remain Open and Inclusive; Scouts for Equality Deplores Boy Scouts’ Callous Act as a Discriminatory Attempt to put Politics before Boys
In a startling and discriminatory move, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) revoked the charter of Seattle Troop 98 and Pack 98 for its refusal to remove gay Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath. The BSA revoked the charter of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s (RBUMC), a Seattle church whose two Scouting units serve a neighborhood with few other positive opportunities for local youth.
“The Boy Scouts’ decisions only serve to hurt a group of boys who need the values and leadership of someone like Scoutmaster McGrath,” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, a national organization dedicated to ending the BSA’s ban on gay members and leaders. “Unfortunately, the BSA’s decision calls into question its commitment to leadership and values by perpetuating an outmoded policy rooted in fear and discrimination. History will show that today’s announcement is a self-inflicted wound.”
The controversy surrounding Troop 98 emerged in March, when an NBC News report on the inclusive troop prompted the BSA to question the sexual orientation of Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath. McGrath, abiding by the Scout’s commitment to trustworthiness, acknowledged his sexual orientation to the BSA, which in turn, responded by revoking McGrath’s status as Scoutmaster.
By Scouts for Equality
On 09, Apr 2014 | In Campaign News | By Scouts for Equality
By Scouts for Equality
Pascal Tessier, America’s first openly gay Eagle Scout, has launched a Change.org petition asking Amazon.com to temporarily withdraw its support of the Boy Scouts of America until the BSA ends its ban on gay leaders.
You can sign the petition here: http://change.org/amazonscouts
Tessier’s petition comes just two days after Geoffrey McGrath—an Eagle Scout, husband and Scoutmaster—became the first gay adult to be removed from the Boy Scouts of America since the organization’s vote in May of 2013 to end its ban on gay youth.
Working with Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, Tessier’s petition has already accumulated 15,000 signatures and the number of signatures is growing fast.
“After the removal of Geoff McGrath on Monday, it’s clear that Scouting still isn’t a safe place for LGBT+ adults and parents,” said Pascal. “This is both a wake up call and a personal slap in the face to me. Last year’s vote showed that members of the BSA are ready for full inclusion. In four months when I turn 18, I’ll receive the same letter Geoff did, and I will be kicked out of Scouting. This has to stop, and Amazon can help.”
Amazon is a groundbreaking company with an HRC Corporate Equality Index score of 90, and Jeff Bezos is a strong ally of the LGBT community. Amazon’s website clearly states that: “Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance… are not eligible to participate.”
“As the son of a same-sex couple, I saw first hand as a youth that gay adults can be a positive part of Scouting,” said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and cofounder of Scouts for Equality. “Removing Geoff sends the wrong message to young Scouts. Discrimination is never okay, and it has no place in our movement.”
Since Scouts for Equality’s founding in 2012, seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization, including Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney World, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel and UPS.
By Scouts for Equality
On 26, Feb 2014 | In Campaign News | By Scouts for Equality
Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, praised Walt Disney World’s decision to end its local support of the Boy Scouts of America’s Central Florida Council.
“We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive,” said Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls. “Scouts for Equality will continue to advocate for a fully inclusive membership policy, to help build a stronger Scouting community that is eligible for the support of Corporate America.”
Mr. Wahls is the straight son of a lesbian couple. Under the BSA’s current membership policy, parents like Wahls’ are still banned from being a part of their son’s Scouting experience, and gay Eagle Scouts will still be barred from Scouting on their 18th birthday.
In an e-mail to local members, Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey wrote: “We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go. The National BSA Council has reached out to [Walt Disney World] to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”
Since Scouts for Equality’s inception in 2012, seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization. These sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World.
The quintessential Scouting film Follow Me, Boys! was produced by Walt Disney Productions in 1966 and is regularly played every summer at Boy Scout camps across the country. The film was one of the last movies produced by Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer two weeks after Follow Me, Boys! was released.
The full contents of Mr. Utsey’s email to the Central Florida Council can be found below: