January 25, 2013, NEW YORK, NY - GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, and Scouts for Equality today spoke out against the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) of the Boy Scouts of America after it threatened to revoke the charter of a local Cub Scouts pack that bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as first reported by Mother Jones.
According to its website, Cloverly, Maryland-based Pack 442, which serves boys 7-10 years of age, must decide by Friday, January 25, if it will keep a non-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination "against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation," or have its charter revoked by the NCAC. Pack families anonymously voted on and approved the non-discrimination statement in August 2012; the Pack's chartering organization, the Colesville Lions Club, approved the statement in September 2012.
"To think that the Boy Scouts would rather cast out elementary school children than accept a parent-approved policy allowing gay children and parents to participate is just unconscionable," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "How many young Scouts is the BSA willing to sacrifice in order to preserve its harmful and discriminatory policies? This despicable act of bullying and intimidation is yet another reminder that the BSA is out of touch with its members and the American public at large."
"The Scouting program always taught me that bullying was an act of intimidation by threat of force," said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality. "Unfortunately, that's exactly what we're seeing here. This Pack feels a policy of nondiscrimination is in the best interest of its members and community. It's disappointing that the Council fails to see how this top-down show of force negatively impacts its perception - especially in a state that democratically passed marriage equality."
Pack 442 has posted a poll to its website asking family members if it should either:
"Keep our current Non-Discrimination policy on the web site, most likely not be rechartered by BSA, and continue to operate but as an independent scout group that openly welcomes all families."
"Remove our Non-Discrimination policy from the web site, recharter with BSA, and return to a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, welcoming all families."
Several other Councils across the nation have adopted similar non-discrimination policies, including the Boston Minuteman Council, which has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2001. According to Scouts for Equality, 11 Councils, serving over 260,000 Scouts, have taken a stand against the BSA's anti-gay policies.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old's Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell's Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts' ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
GLAAD and Scouts for Equality have also called attention to other Americans who are continuing to be harmed by the anti-gay policy, including 18 year-old gay Scout Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle award in October 2012 because he is gay. Ryan's mom later launched a Change.org petition calling on the BSA to give Ryan the award he has earned. That petition now boasts over 460,000 signatures.
About GLAAD: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.