Despite protests on several fronts, the Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, according to ABC News.
An 11-member special committee that leaders formed discreetly in 2010 "came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts," according to Deron Smith, the organization's national spokesman.
In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called the Scouts' decision "a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.
"With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they've chosen to teach division and intolerance."
In reaction to a petition campaign asking him to speak out against the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA's) current ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, an executive board member with the Scouts, has announced that he not only supports an end to the ban but will also commit to ending it, according to a Change.org press release. An AT&T spokesperson for Stephenson told the LGBT publication the Dallas Voice that the entrepreneur will work alongside Ernst & Young CEO James Turley, another BSA board member, to help change the policy.
HRC statement on Boy Scouts' refusal to revisit anti-gay policy
WASHINGTON — Leaders of the Boy Scouts of America today affirmed their ban on gay scouts and leaders after conducting a secret two-year review. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin released the following statement in response:
"This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions. With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they've chosen to teach division and intolerance."
Change.org released this statement:
DALLAS, TX In reaction to a petition campaign asking him to speak out against the Boy Scouts of America's current ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and an executive board member with the Boy Scouts, has announced that he not only supports an end to the ban but will also commit to ending it.
In an interview with the Dallas Voice, an AT&T spokesperson for Stephenson said that the executive board member will work alongside Ernst & Young CEO James Turley, another BSA board member, to help change their policy. According to reporter David Taffet, "Stephenson's spokesman, Marty Richter told Dallas Voice he's committed to changing the policy... Richter said he believes Turley will lead the effort to make the Boy Scouts inclusive with Stephenson's full support."
Stephenson's spokesperson went on record with this commitment after Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom from Bridgeport, Ohio who was ousted as her son's den leader in April of this year, started a petition on Change.org calling for an end to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troops and leaders, which has attracted more than 300,000 signatures. In June 2012, Tyrrell began a second petition on Change.org calling on Stephenson to work to end it. More than 75,000 people have signed it to date.
"This is a huge new development and could mean that the Boy Scouts are preparing to end this anti-gay policy sooner rather than later," said Tyrrell. "I'm very impressed with Mr. Stephenson's leadership and his new commitment to helping the Boy Scouts stop discriminating, a position that is totally consistent with AT&T's record as a champion of fairness and equality in the workplace."
"Our campaign to end the ban on gay Boy Scouts and leaders not only includes thousands of scouts and scout leaders, but has now been joined by two prominent members of the organization's board of directors," said Tyrrell. "How much longer can the Boy Scouts realistically hold on to this discriminatory policy when its leaders clearly disagree with it?"
Tyrrell's campaign on Change.org recently inspired another Boy Scout board member, Ernst & Young Chairman and CEO James Turley, to publicly oppose the organization's ban on gay scouts and leaders. Following the launch of Tyrrell's petition, Turley announced on June 13 that he intends to "work from within the Boy Scouts of America Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress" on ending the ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders. Turley's comments came after news broke that BSA officials are reviewing a proposal which could be voted on as early as 2013 that would end the ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.
Stephenson's announced commitment comes shortly before Tyrrell and her 7-year-old son Cruz, formerly a Cub Scout, will deliver more than 300,000 signatures from the first Change.org petition started by Tyrrell to the Boy Scouts of America's national headquarters in Dallas on Wednesday, July 18.
Tyrrell hopes Boy Scout leaders will meet with her for the first time and accept the signatures as well as consider reinstating her as den leader so her son can resume scouting. Tyrrell's previous attempts to meet with BSA have been rejected. As a result, Zach Wahls a prominent Eagle Scout, advocate for the LGBT community, and leader of "Scouts for Equality" delivered 275,000 of the petitions on behalf of Tyrrell to BSA at an Orlando conference on May 30.
"All I'm asking for is the opportunity to meet with a Boy Scouts official and resume my post as den leader of my son's Cub Scout Pack a post that was taken from me as a result of a discriminatory policy that's unpopular with Boy Scouts and leaders across the country," said Tyrrell. "I hope they'll listen to my story and the stories of hundreds of thousands who have signed my Change.org petitions."
Tyrrell's campaign has earned the support of numerous celebrities as well, including Julianne Moore, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Ricky Martin and others, and Tyrrell has been featured at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles and San Francisco for her work to end the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. She most recently marched in the 43rd Annual LGBT Pride Parade in NYC with GLAAD as well as actor and former scout leader George Takei.