Just days before 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council converge in Dallas to vote on a resolution critical to equality in Scouting, Time magazine published an op-ed written by a gay employee of the Boy Scouts calling for a repeal of the ban on gay Scouts and leaders. The author wished to remain anonymous, but shared a wealth of information on how much the anti-gay ban has damaged the viability and reputation of the Scouts, hurt efforts to recruit more Scouts, and taken its toll on his own well-being.
The author of the op-ed first contacted GLAAD in April, sharing that he was a professional employee of the Boy Scouts, and that he wanted to help people understand why the ban on gay Scouts and leaders is so harmful, not only for adult full-time employees like himself, but for the future of Scouting. The author shared information on Scouting membership, the review process the Boy Scouts undertook, and his own personal history with the Scouts. Time magazine expressed interest in his story, and worked with him to develop an op-ed that can combine his information about the Boy Scouts with his own personal journey as a Scout.
When the author talked to GLAAD, he shared that he is a dedicated employee of the Boy Scouts, working long days and weeks to help make the Scouting program the best it can be. He also came with a vast knowledge of the state of Scouting. He cited the Boy Scouts own report that said that 28 out of the 30 current and prospective corporate sponsors opposed the ban on gay Scouts and leaders (page 12). He also shared that Scouting has gone through a 5.5 percent membership decline nationally since GLAAD started its campaign to reverse the ban in April of 2012. All geographic regions have experienced some level of decline, the Northeast region being hit the hardest at 10.6 percent.
The Time op-ed focused mainly on the author’s experience as a gay employee of the Boy Scouts. He writes at length that this work has forced him into the closet, always fearing that he will lose his job. He also makes it clear that he is not the only gay employee of the Boy Scouts.
There are dozens of other gay professionals like me in the Scouts…We dedicate ourselves to the scouting program, fully supporting the organization. Yet, we live with apprehension, hiding our personal lives and not knowing if we could be outed and fired at any given moment. We’re constantly faced with awkward questions about our personal lives. While the Scouts proclaim to be a “family organization,” for us, there are two options to having a family: hide the people we love or leave scouting.
The author also focuses on the future of the Boy Scouts if they continue to discriminate against gay Scouts and leaders. He sees no sustainable path for the Scouts if it does not catch up with American’s views on gay and lesbian people.
The Boy Scouts of America is not on a sustainable path as long as any portion of the ban on gay members in Scouting continues. Strategic partnerships will be drastically reduced. I have personal experience working with many organizations, which refused to be a partner with my local scouting council because of the ban on gay members.
If the author’s identity were to be revealed, he would be terminated from the Boy Scouts. Already, people can be fired in 29 states for being gay. However, per the Dale vs. Boy Scouts ruling in 2000, the author could be fired, even if he lives in a state with employment for gay and lesbian people. The author shared with GLAAD that, unless the ban on gay scouts and leaders is lifted this week, they will likely seek new employment.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her seven-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s original Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD’s work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.