Author, activist and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls appeared on MSNBC moments ago to bring us all up to speed on the Boy Scouts developments (and make a big announcement). Details and video follow.
Zach Wahls, who last Wednesday delivered the signatures of more than 275,000 people who want the Boy Scouts of America to change its policy to allow LGBT Scouts and leaders, told MSNBC's Thomas Roberts that though last night's big news of a policy review might not be new, there are many aspects of the proposal this time around that are different.
Still, the Boy Scouts have been working hard today to soften the news.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said a resolution to amend the national policy to allow each Scouting’s chartered group to set its own standards regarding gay members was turned in by a Scout leader from the Northeast before April 30, the deadline for submitting resolutions to the meeting. He said the resolution was read at the May 31 meeting.
“While we’ll carefully consider this resolution, there are no plans to change this policy,” Smith said, noting that resolutions and petitions on the matter were “not unique” and dated back to 2000, when the Supreme Court heard a challenge on their stance. (The justices sided with the Boy Scouts in the lawsuit involving a former Assistant Scoutmaster who was gay, citing the protections of the First Amendment).
During Zach's appearance this morning he announced the creation of his new organization, Scouts For Equality. Reads the freshly minted group's mission statement:
“Since 1991, the Boy Scouts of America has barred openly gay individuals from participating in its program at any level. Scouts for Equality will lead a respectful, honest dialogue with current and former Scouts and Scout Leaders about ending this outdated policy. By embodying the values of the Scout Oath and Law, we believe we can restore the social relevancy of one of this country’s great cultural institutions: the Boy Scouts of America.”
Fantastic breaking news tonight comes by way of GLAAD, which is reporting that Boy Scouts of America officials are considering a new policy for 2013 that would allow local organizations to decide for themselves whether or not to accept LGBT scouts and leaders.
The proposal comes after superstar activist and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered more than 275,000 signatures attached to the Jen Tyrrell petition to the Scouts at the organization's annual meeting last week.
From GLAAD's press release:
“Last Wednesday I delivered 275,000 petition signatures -- including the signatures of thousands of scouts and scout leaders -- to the Boy Scouts of America because I love the organization and I refuse to stand by idly as it forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most,” said Wahls. “In proposing to allow local charter organizations to decide whether or not they’ll include gay youth and leaders within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has taken an historic step forward, and I applaud their bravery in doing so.”
Wahls met with the Boy Scouts of America’s Public Relations Director, Deron Smith, and other top-ranking Boy Scout officials who asked not to be named after delivering the 275,000 petition signatures to the organization’s annual national meeting last Wednesday.
“As both an Eagle Scout with a personal investment in the success of the Boy Scouts of America and as the son of a lesbian couple, it means a lot to see this change finally set in motion,” added Wahls.
Zach will be on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. est to discuss this major development.