US: First out Eagle Scout turns 18, calls on BSA to accept gay adult members

Ashley Chhibber August 6, 2014
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The first gay Eagle Scout has used his 18th birthday to issue a message to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), asking for the organisation to start welcoming gay adult members.

Pascal Tessier turned 18 yesterday, 5 August. The current ban on adult members in the BSA means that after more than thirteen years in the organisation, during which he reached its highest rank, his position is now at risk and unclear.

In an open letter to BSA president Robert Gates published by TIME, he wrote: “In allowing the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults to continue—not because he believes it is the right thing to do, but because he is afraid of the possible consequences of enacting a fair policy—Mr. Gates is knowingly sacrificing thousands of devoted Scouts who happen to be gay. Scouts like me.

“So today, I am hoping that you, Mr. Gates, will let me convince you to stop the sacrifices… Every day that you do nothing, more boys and parents struggle with their place in Scouting, in their communities and in their families.”

“Openly gay adults will eventually be allowed in Scouting, Mr. Gates. As support for equality continues to grow, Americans will soon demand it,” the letter concluded. “The question before you, then, is not whether the ban should end, but how many more young people like me will be a victim of your failed leadership if you do nothing.”

In 2013, following intense national pressure, the National Council of the BSA voted to lift the ban on gay youth members, although it retained the ban on gay adult leaders. The rule change came into effect on 1 January 2014.

Weeks later, Pascal became the first out member of the BSA to be awarded the Eagle Scout badge, the highest rank attainable, since the change.

In May, he delivered a petition calling on Amazon to drop its support of the Boy Scouts of America, following the dismissal of gay troop leader Geoff McGrath.

That petition came shortly after the announcement that Liam Easton-Calabria, who became an Eagle Scout with his twin brother August, would be forced to leave the BSA on his 21st birthday for being gay.

Pascal was also among the gay and allied past and present Boy Scouts who marched in the New York City Pride Parade for the first time this year.

Calling the ban on gay adult members “not only [a] very confusing and flawed message, but it’s also just wrong, morally”, Pascal told MSNBC that he and his family “don’t really know what will happen now”. Although he expects to take time away from scouting to go to college, he said: “Later in life I definitely want to be a Scout Leader.”

“I want to give back to scouting the way that they taught me when I was a kid,” he said. “I don’t want to step back and abandon this fight that I’ve working so hard on and I don’t want to abandon the people who’ve been helping me for so long.”

Related topics: boy scout, Boy Scouts of America, BSA, Eagle Scout, pascal tessier, US

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