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The Boy Scouts Of America Welcome First Gay Active Eagle Scout

The Boy Scouts of America's era of tolerance crystallized this week as the organization welcomed the first reported openly gay active Eagle Scout with open arms in Maryland. Pascal Tessier, 17, received his Eagle Scout Badge on Monday night alongside a standing ovation and praise from members and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 52 of Chevy Chase.

The achievement was not certain for Tessier, who worked his way up through the organization over six years as tirelessly as he fought the Boy Scouts' ban on gay troops. But with the policies change and finally in effect, Tessier's efforts were finally rewarded. 

Scoutmaster Don Beckham kicked off the historic ceremony by reading from the Boy Scouts manual. “A Scout is brave,” Beckham said after handing over the Eagle Scout badge. 

“To be a leader, there are going to be situations where you are going to have to stand up for what you believe is right,” he continued. “You may be asked to make personal sacrifices, to potentially give up your dreams because you are helping to make something happen that is important for a lot of other people. … And when it’s a principle that you believe in, use your Scout training and stand up for what is right because a Scout is brave.”

“Even if I had been kicked out along the way, I wouldn’t have changed anything,” Tessier said. “The whole experience was something worth having, not only for myself but also for all the other people involved—and for all the people it affects.”

Though the Boy Scouts of America welcomed gay troops with a policy change after a very public fight that spanned years, a ban on openly gay adults remains in place. Tessier hopes to be a part of the change on that front as well. “On my 18th birthday, I’m planning on applying to be an adult leader for the Boy Scouts so that we push the issue."

There is no official tracking of scouts within the BSA itself, but advocacy group Scouts for Equality confirm that Tessier is indeed the first active gay Eagle Scout.

(Image: AP; h/t: LGBTQ Nation