A New York Boy Scout Group hired its first openly gay Eagle Scout on Thursday as their summer camp leader.
This decision was made as a public challenge to the ban on gay adult members, which has been made by the national scouting organization.
While speaking to Time, Richard G. Mason, a board member with the New York group, insisted that they’d hired 18-year-old Eagle Scout Pascal Tessier because he was the best candidate they found for the job.
“We received this application from this young man, and we found him highly qualified on all the merits,” Mason explained. “We have an anti-discrimination policy, we believe in it very firmly, and we are executing on it.”
This New York group has always insisted that they weren’t adverse to hiring a homosexual employee. They are one of a number of other local scouting councils who have made it clear that they disagree with the national organization’s stance.
Back in 2013, the National Scouting Organization finally allowed openly gay youths as scouts. However, they didn’t go as far as to allow adults to be leaders. According to Deseret News, the decision to allow any gays into troops was met with widespread disdain by conservatives. This included some churches who sponsored these troops, who even threatened to leave behind their duties if homosexuals were allowed.
But despite this conflict, Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, backed the decision to hire Richard Mason.
“This is a watershed moment,” he declared. “We are proud to see such an important Boy Scout council standing up for the full inclusion of gay members.”
Tessier, who hails from Kensington, Maryland, admitted that he was relieved that his Eagle badge had been approved. The decision was made at the Scouts’ national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Tessier declared, “Even if I had been kicked out along the way, I wouldn’t have changed anything. 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.”
The New York Scout group, which has over 46,000 scouts, has insisted that it’s never denied anyone membership based on their sexual orientation throughout its 103-year history.
Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts of America have declared that they don’t “proactively inquire” about the sexual orientation of their members. However, they do enforce a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
[Image via TRB]