(Photo: REUTERS/Tim Sharp)
Members of GLAAD, a nonprofit organization that promotes LGBT advocacy, was at the Boy Scouts of America's headquarters in Irving, Texas, on Friday – one day after the BSA's national council voted to allow openly gay membership – to advocate for additional policy changes acceptable to the gay community.
Former scouts Dave and Joe McGrath, a father and son duo who both earned the rank of Eagle Scout, biked 1,400 miles from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to the BSA's meeting in Grapevine to encourage the 1,400 voting delegates of the BSA's national council to vote in favor of the resolution to allow openly gay scouts, which passed by a vote of 61 to 39 percent. The ban on openly gay adult leaders is still in place.
On Friday, GLAAD documented Dave McGrath's entry into BSA headquarters to meet with staff and to deliver the LGBT community's 95 objections to their policies. Among these objections is the BSA's standing policy that bans adults who are openly gay from becoming scout leaders and volunteers.
Both factions of the scouting community – the LGBT scouts and traditional scouts – agree that the BSA's policies are now in conflict, because it accepts openly gay membership of students, but when they turn 18, they would then be ineligible to participate as scout leaders.
Many say the BSA's only option is to ask the national council delegates to vote on additional policy changes, possibly as soon as next year, to allow openly gay adults to become scout leaders and volunteers.
During Thursday's press conference outside the BSA's convention at the Gaylord Texan, Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner, refused to answer questions about lifting the ban on openly gay adults.
The policy change for openly gay youth will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, and will impact 116,000 scouting units, according to the BSA.
In a statement released Thursday evening, the BSA reiterated its support for the LGBT community by stating they wouldn't allow the organization to be "consumed by a single, divisive and unresolved societal issue."
"As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter," the statement reads. "While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting."
Justin Bickford, communications director for Scouts for Equality, told CP on Thursday that their next mission is to push for openly gay leadership in the BSA. Many traditional scout leaders contend that gay adults are already serving as scout leaders and are doing so with discretion. Their disagreement is with the perceived sexual advocacy among the few LGBT leaders who were asked to leave the BSA for promoting their agenda.
John Stemberger, the founder of OnMyHonor, a coalition of scout leaders and parents of Boy Scouts members, consistently reiterated that gay scouts and gay scout leaders were actively participating in the BSA before Thursday's vote, and said there was never a ban on homosexuals in the scouts. According to Stemberger, "the BSA has a nondiscrimination policy," and the ban was on "gay activism" and "flaunting sexuality."
"With great sorrow, this will be last time I wear this uniform," Stemberger, whose coalition opposed membership changes, announced Thursday evening during the OnMyHonor press conference. He said his role will be to facilitate the process of deciding where the newly displaced scouting community will go, after being exiled from the BSA.
Stemberger said his movement includes "tens of thousands of parents, scouts that are disillusioned, troops that are going to fold and chartering partners."
On his website, OnMyHonor.Net, Stemberger has announced a June coalition meeting in Louisville, Ky., to "discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys. We will host a national coalition meeting of former BSA parents and youth leaders who wish to return to timeless values that once made the BSA great."
Elizabeth Pritchard, the pack committee chair for Pack 928 in Southlake, Texas, told CP that she's been calling the American Heritage Girls to ask if they plan to start a program for boys. One program that has been announced is FaithBasedBoys.org, a newly created interdenominational organization for boys 5 to 18, that is scheduled to launch in the fall, and will receive guidance from American Heritage Girls.
Others who are departing the BSA en masse are waiting to see if the Royal Ambassadors, a Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in first through sixth grades, will be expanding their program to include the estimated 200,000 to 400,000 scouts who will be leaving the BSA.