15 People Advocating For Change In The Boy Scouts

These heroes have been beating the drum against the BSA’s anti-gay policies. Let’s hope their work will be recognized this week.

1. James Dale

When the BSA learned that Dale was a gay rights activist, it revoked the former Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster of his adult membership. Dale filed a lawsuit claiming that the organization violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws. While the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dale, the United States Supreme Court ruled against him. However, Dale led the charge for the BSA to change its ways.

2. Jennifer Tyrrell

Max Morse / Getty Images

In April 2012, Tyrrell (pictured with Dianna Agron) was ousted as her son’s Scout leader for being gay. Her story inspired over 350,000 Americans to sign a petition calling on the BSA to end its ban on gay members. Recently, she helped deliver 1.4 million signatures to the BSA’s headquarters ahead of the organization’s decision regarding its gay ban.

3. Zach Wahls

David Manning / Reuters

Wahls first gained national attention when his pro-gay marriage testimony before Iowa House Judiciary Committee went viral.

Wahls, an Eagle Scout, turned his attention toward the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policies. In May 2012, while wearing his uniform, Wahls delivered 275,000 signatures of support of Tyrrell. A month later he cofounded Scouts For Equality.

4. George Takei

GLAAD

After learning of Tyrrell’s story, Takei became a vocal ally and rallied support for her cause. The TV icon and former Boy Scout joined Tyrrell at the 43rd Annual NYC Pride March in New York City.

5. Burke Stansbury

Stansbury, a former Eagle Scout, was so appalled by BSA’s stance on gays that he returned his pin to the organization. He later created the Tumblr “Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges” as a way to collect stories of others who returned their pins.

6. Eric Jones

Ryan James / New York Daily News

Eagle Scout Jones lost his job with the BSA after he came out in the summer of last year. Prior to coming out, he worked as a counselor at one of the organization’s summer camps. Within the same month, BSA reaffirmed its stance on the gay ban. Jones has since started working on the documentary Second Class Citizens with Ryan James Yezak.

7. Tim Griffin

Over the summer, Griffin became the second Eagle Scout removed from his job after it was revealed he was gay. Alex Hayes, the director of the camp Griffin was fired from, quit in protest. The two started a petition on Change.org to encourage the BSA to drop its anti-gay policies and reinstate Griffin.

8. Greg Bourke

A popular Scoutmaster, Bourke was fired because of his sexuality. He turned to Change.org to start a petition to reject BSA’s anti-gay policies. In February, he joined Tyrell, Will Oliver, and others to drop off over 1.4 million signatures of combined petitions.

9. Ryan Andresen

Susan Tripp Pollard/Contra Costa Times / MCT

The California teen was thrust into the national spotlight when was expelled from the Scouts for being gay. Andresen was also denied his Eagle Award even though he had fulfilled all the requirements to earn the merit. His family rallied behind him and started a petition on Change.org that caught the attention of Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres, among others.

10. Matthew Kimball

Kimball (pictured right) is a former Eagle Scout who left his troop after realizing that coming out would be at odds with the BSA. When he learned what happened to Andresen, he started a pledge drive to collect Eagle pins from other Scouts as a sign of solidarity and support.

11. Derek Nance

Prompted by the firing of Griffin and other stories of the past year, Nance came out on YouTube and condemned the Boy Scouts.

“I am gay… I live with camp friends, I attend school with camp friends, and I go out drinking at night with camp friends, and yet I’ve had to keep part of my life secret from them,” he said in January. He has since joined the growing coalition of gay and straight Scouts advocating for change.

12. Will Oliver

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Oliver, a gay Eagle Scout, launched a petition calling on the National Geographic Channel to condemn the BSA’s discrimination policies. The channel is a strategic partner of the BSA and home to the new show Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? He also joined Tyrrell in Dallas to drop off the petition signatures.

13. President Barack Obama

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

During a pre–Super Bowl interview, Obama stated that he believed scouting should be open to gays. When pressed for more, he said:

“My attitude is … that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.”

14. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley

Win McNamee / Getty Images

In February of this year, Sens. Brown and Merkley sent a joint letter to the BSA urging the organization “to adopt inclusive membership and leadership policies that will allow for all Americans to participate in the Boy Scouts.”

Almost all of these individuals have been aided and supported in some way by several organizations, including GLAAD, Change.org, and Scouts For Equality. Additionally, UPS, The Merck Foundation and Intel responded to online petitions and dropped their financial support for the Boy Scouts of America.

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