Reporting Bud Gillett
GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – History could be made Thursday at the Boy Scouts of America annual national convention held at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine. The organization is set to vote on whether to allow openly gay scouts in their ranks. Right now gays are not allowed to either be scouts or adult leaders. A compromise proposal to allow gay scouts but not adult leaders is not sitting well with activists on either side of the issue.
“We think sex and politics has no place in the Boy Scouts of America,” says John Stemberger. The Florida dad is active in scouts, and so is his son. Stemberger and some 100 supporters lined the route to the Gaylord Hotel to urge delegates not to change current rules at all. He claims Scouts would become victims of their own policy. “Once a scout–decorated Eagle Scout who’s openly gay–turns 18 he’s got to be kicked out of the program. And what that tells me is there’s going to be an immediate lawsuit. Immediate lawsuit.” He continues, “There will be a non-discrimination lawsuit brought under some state statue or an equal protection claim brought, and within two years there will be open homosexuality within the entire program both youth and adults.” Stemberger concludes the compromise isn’t a compromise at all. “It injects sex and politics into the Boy Scouts of America. Look, gays are already in the Boy Scouts but they have to be discrete, they have to be appropriate, they can’t be acting out loud and proud.”
79-year-old Earl Warren was among the 100 or so members of Stemberger’s group. Warren achieved his Eagle rank in 1950. He opposes changing traditional scouts rules. “Not changing the Boy Scouts, and that’s exactly what they want to do, is changing the whole demeanor of the Boy Scouts,” Warren warned.
Late in the day the group took their cause to a rally at a local restaurant. But at a nearby hotel, those who want the policy changed argue they’re being discriminated against. 16-year-old Pascal Terrier says his older brother is an Eagle Scout and gay—but not openly gay. “He earned his Eagle and it can’t be taken away from him. But because I want to stand up for what I believe is right I won’t be able to get my Eagle award like my brother did.”
At the same news briefing, other gay Eagle Scouts and gay adult leaders complained of unfair treatment. Jennifer Tyrrell says she was kicked out as her son’s Den Mother because of her sexual orientation. 7-year-old Cruz Tyrrell looked on, dressed in his Cub Scout uniform, as his mother said, ” I can’t really describe what it’s like to have to look your child in the eye and tell him you can’t be part of scouting simply because our family looks different than other people.” Tyrrell added, “I agree with the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) that sexuality shouldn’t be a part of the scouts. It never was. It never came up until they brought it up. It didn’t come up until they kicked me out.”