(Photo courtesy National Geographic)
The National Geographic Channel has come out against a petition by a gay rights advocate to have a disclaimer put on its soon-to-be-released series about the Boy Scouts.
The petition, which was posted on change.org and has garnered over 121,000 signatures, demands that the NGC put a disclaimer on the program "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?", in which it denounces the BSA's national policy against openly gay members.
Julie Frazier of NGC provided The Christian Post with an official statement from the channel expressing neutrality on the heated debate. "National Geographic Channel is an international media company that is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in any capacity," reads the statement.
"As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic, but when people see our show they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate, and is in fact a competition series between individual scouts and civilians."
Set to premiere next Monday at 8:00 PM EST/PST and hosted by ex-Army Ranger Charles Ingram, "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?" involves a series of competition that adult contestants will compete in. The winner then goes on to challenge a team of Boy Scouts to see if they can survive in the wilderness as well as a typical Boy Scout.
"Each week, an elite team of Scouts from across the country, ranging from Webelos Scouts to Eagle Scouts, gathers in the Sequoia National Forest to take on three new (and brave) adults in a battle of brains and brawn," reads a press release.
"Whether crossing a gorge on a commando line, finding their way alone in the woods during an orienting challenge, administering first aid to an injured hiker or feeding breakfast to a group of hungry Cub Scouts, each challenge reinforces valuable Scouting skills."
Will Oliver, an openly gay Eagle Scout from Duxbury, Mass., posted a petition on the website change.org demanding that the NGC add a disclaimer regarding the ongoing debate over the BSA's national membership policy pertaining to sexual orientation.
"To be entirely clear, the aim of this petition is not the cancellation of the series, but rather to make a strong statement to the BSA's leadership about the grave injustice of their policy," wrote Oliver on the petition's description.
"I was fortunate to be welcomed and valued by my troop regardless of the BSA's official stance on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, there are countless stories of others who haven't been so lucky."
As of Friday, the petition has garnered over 121,000 signatures, which is approximately 28,000 fewer than the stated goal on the web page.
Rob Schwarzwalder, senior vice president for the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post that he believed the petition was a "regrettable" action. "It is regrettable that National Geographic is being attacked by a homosexual activist group for simply and tacitly honoring the Boy Scouts. The BSA is not homophobic," said Schwarzwalder.
"The overwhelming majority of its membership does not want homosexuality introduced to their sons in the context of Scouting."
Oliver and other supporters of the petition plan to deliver the list of signatories to the National Geographic Society office in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning.