Local Scouts for Equality: repeal of ban on gay adults is one ‘victory’

By: Allie Gauthier – Print Editor-in-Chief

The Boy Scouts of America ended its ban on gay adults Monday. Scouts for Equality, the national organization comprised of current and former Boy Scouts leading the campaign to end discrimination in the BSA, fought this ban since 2012.

“Tens of thousands of people came together because they wanted to build a better future for the Boy Scouts of America, and that future starts today,” said Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, in a Scouts for Equality press release. “I couldn’t be more proud of the tireless work of our members, volunteers and staff over these last three years.”

The BSA voted to end its ban on gay youth members in 2013. Many saw this as a stepping-stone to full inclusion, as well as a vindication of the work done through Scouts for Equality, according to the press release.

While the resolution prohibits secular organizations from discriminating against adults based on sexual orientation, it reaffirmed the First Amendment right of Boy Scout units chartered by religious organizations.

“The victory today still allows Scout units that are chapters through religious organizations to deny adult leaders participation due to religious beliefs,” said Patrick Bittner, the Greater Miami Valley Scouts for Equality media and communications director. “Scouts for Equality will continue to push for equality among all participants.”

Bittner joined the Scouts for Equality about a year ago. “It’s something I believe in and they needed a chapter in Dayton, and I knew [Epsilon Tau Pi] would be a good place to go,” he said.

“Discrimination has no place in scouting. Today’s vote is the foundation for building a fully inclusive BSA,” said UD grad student Matthew Worsham, an Eagle Scout and chapter lead of Greater Miami Valley Scouts for Equality. “Just like no boy should be denied the ability to participate in scouting, no adult who cares about the program should be turned away from the BSA.”

There are currently four executives in the Greater Miami Valley Scouts for Equality chapter, but there are tens of thousands in the organization.

“Anyone who cares about equality and the movement should join,” Worsham said.

“We’re calling on gay Eagle Scouts, parents who are straight allies, nonprofit organizations who support LGBT equality and anyone else who has walked away from the Boy Scouts to rejoin the fold,” Bittner said in the press release. “Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive Scouting movement.”

For more information or to join the Greater Miami Valley chapter, click here.