WASHINGTON, D.C.— Scouts for Equality, the national organization leading the campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America, praised today’s historic vote by the BSA’s National Executive Board to end the organization’s decades-old ban on gay adults.
“This vote marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Boy Scouts of America,” said Zach Wahls, the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. “Tens of thousands of people came together because they wanted to build a better future for the Boy Scouts of America, and that future starts today. I couldn’t be more proud of the tireless work of our members, volunteers, and staff over these last three years. As of today, the Boy Scouts of America is an organization that is looking forward, not back.”
Scouts for Equality—a group of current and former Boy Scouts members—has led the charge in campaigning for an end to the Boy Scouts of America’s ban since 2012. In 2013, the BSA voted to end its ban on gay youth members, which many saw as a stepping-stone to full inclusion for the organization. Today, the work of this campaign was vindicated by an historic vote from the Boy Scouts of America.
“While we still have some reservations about individual units discriminating against gay adults, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of Scouting,” continued Wahls. “We look forward to collaborating with our supporters, progressive faith partners, allied non-profit organizations, and the Boy Scouts of America to ensure a fully inclusive Scouting movement.”
The resolution approved today ends the BSA’s decades-old ban on gay adults while reaffirming the First Amendment right of Boy Scout units chartered (i.e. legally sponsored) by religious organizations to select troop leaders in accordance with their religious principles. In effect, Boy Scout units sponsored by churches will have the right to continue discriminating against gay adults on a troop-by-troop basis. Boy Scout units sponsored by secular organizations will not be allowed to discriminate.
“We’re calling on gay Eagle Scouts, parents who are straight allies, non-profit organizations who support LGBT equality and anyone else who has walked away from the Boy Scouts to rejoin the fold,” continued Wahls. “Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive Scouting movement.”
Timeline of Scouts for Equality’s Campaign
April 2012 — Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian den mother from Ohio, is removed from her son’s Cub Scout unit because she is gay.
May 2012 — Zach Wahls, an LGBT rights advocate, Eagle Scout, and the son of a same-sex couple from Iowa known for his testimony before the Iowa legislature, delivers a Change.org petition started by Ms. Tyrrell to BSA leadership at their national meeting.
June 2012 — Zach Wahls teams up with Jonathan Hillis, a youth member of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board, and other Eagle Scouts to launch Scouts for Equality.
July 2012 — BSA reaffirms its ban against gay adults following a two-year review of the policy.
Fall 2012 — Scouts for Equality successfully petitions major BSA sponsors Intel and UPS to suspend their funding until BSA ends its discrimination, and Ryan Andresen, a gay Boy Scout from California, is denied his Eagle Scout award because of his sexual orientation.
January 2013 — The Boy Scouts of America announces it will reconsider its ban on gay youth and schedules a vote for May 2013.
Spring 2013 — Scouts for Equality leads an unprecedented national effort, working with GLAAD, HRC, the Inclusive Scouting Network and others, to win the May vote.
May 2013 — The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council votes 61% to 39% to end the organization’s ban on gay youth.
January 2014 — The new membership policy formally takes effect, ending the BSA’s ban on gay youth but maintaining the ban on gay adults.
April 2014 — The Boy Scouts of America revokes the charter of Seattle Troop 98, which refused to discriminate against its gay Scoutmaster.
Fall 2014 — Scouts for Equality works with David Boies and Boies, Schiller, Flexner, LLP to craft a legal challenge to the Boy Scouts of America’s continued ban on gay adults.
September 2014 — The Boy Scouts of America denies employment to Yasmin Cassini, a lesbian woman from Colorado, because of her sexual orientation—which is illegal in the state of Colorado.
March 2014 — Yasmin Cassini files a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the prelude to legal action.
April 2015 — The Greater New York Councils announce that they have hired Pascal Tessier, the nation’s first known openly gay Eagle Scout under the BSA’s new policy, to work at their summer camp in direct defiance of the BSA’s national ban. Later that month, the New York Attorney General’s office opens an investigation into Boy Scouts of America hiring practices across the state.
May 2015 — Amid mounting legal pressure, Boy Scouts of America President and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declares the ban “unsustainable,” and calls for its end.
July 13, 2015 — The Boy Scouts of America announces that its National Executive Committee has unanimously voted to end the organization’s ban on gay adults. The resolution advances to the National Executive Board for final approval.
July 27, 2015 — Three years and two weeks after reaffirming its ban on gay members, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board votes to end the organization’s decades-old national ban on gay adults, while affirming individual units’ ability to select leaders in line with its religious principles.
Scouts for Equality commends the decision and calls on gay Eagle Scouts, parents who are straight allies, non-profit organizations who support LGBT equality and anyone else who has walked away from the Boy Scouts to rejoin the movement.
About Scouts for Equality: Scouts for Equality is a national organization of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) members, former members, and community supporters that campaigns for an end to discrimination in the BSA. Scouts for Equality was founded in 2012 by straight Eagle Scouts. In the last three years, we have grown to more than 20,000 members—including 8,000 Eagle Scouts—have gathered more than 2.2 million petition signatures in support of ending the BSA’s ban on gay members, and successfully led the effort to end the BSA’s ban on both gay youth and adults.