By Ryan Collett
A special committee of 11 executive individuals of the Boy Scouts of America has decided to keep the organization’s ban on homosexuals within the organization. The ruling came after a two-year inquiry on the matter by the special committee.
The anti-gay policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
The upholding of the policy comes as a blow to advocacy groups that have been working campaigns for change in one of the largest youth organizations in the United States.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the decision, “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.”
“The leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. They’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance,” said Griffin.
The names of the 11 members of the special committee were kept anonymous, but have been described as top-level Boy Scout officials and leaders. The committee conducted reviews of the policy through what it called “forthright and candid conversations” both inside and outside the organization.
The reaffirmation of the organization’s policy may also cause problems for some of its leading donors. The CEOs of both AT&T and Ernst & Young serve as members of the Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board. Both companies have been recognized for providing an LGBT-friendly workplace for their employees.
James Turley, the Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, issued a statement in response to the Boy Scouts announcement, promising he would “continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.”
Families continue to suffer from the gay ban in the Boy Scouts. Earlier this year in Ohio, Jennifer Tyrrell was forced to resign from her position as a Boy Scout Den Mother when it was revealed that she was a lesbian. At the time, Tyrrell’s son was a Tiger Scout in the Boy Scout chapter of which she led.
Earlier this week, Eric Jones, a Boy Scout camp counselor in Missouri was fired from his job at a summer camp for being gay. Jones is an Eagle Scout — one of the highest honors of the Boy Scouts.
On the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy, Herndon Graddick, President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said in a statement: “Until this ban is lifted, the Scouts are putting parents in a situation where they have to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are being turned away simply because of who they are. It’s unfair policies like this that contribute to a climate of bullying in our schools and communities. Since when is that a value worth teaching young adults?”
You can sign the change.org petition to reinstate Cup Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell here.