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A new year, new policies for the Boy Scouts of America. The controversial decision to allow openly gay youth to remain in the organization is one a Kensington teen says was a long time coming. We’ve introduced you to Pascal Tessier before. The now 17-year-old Boy Scout who also happens to be openly gay, has become an activist to allow other gay youth to be Boy Scouts.
January 1st is the first day that policy goes into affect, and for Pascal, it’s a milestone, but also, motivation.
The first day of 2014 is a day for new beginnings, fresh starts and for the Boy Scouts of America, a new policy. “It also signifies a great change in the BSA,” says Tessier. “Which is, they are taking a step forward.”
For Tessier, it’s a day he’s been fighting for. Pascal is gay and he’s also a Boy Scout, something that before January 1st, did not go together.
“When I started this whole process, it was not an intent to be an activist or to make a change. It was just to stand up and say I’m not going to be silent I am going to be me, and I’m gay,” remembers Tessier.
Pascal was in Texas in May when the vote was passed by more than 60% of the group’s national council. BSA leaders say they hope Wednesday will be, “business as usual.”
An alternate faith-based scouting group was created in the aftermath of the ruling, called Trail Life USA. That group, coincidentally, also launched on January 1st. Unlike the BSA though, they do not admit “open and avowed homosexuals.”
As for the first day of 2014, Tessier is, of course, celebrating. But it’s also bittersweet. Like many of us, he has made a resolution. Tessier’s resolution, however, is more ambitious and controversial than most: to change the policies of the BSA, once again. “Because they are also saying that adults if they are gay are not allowed, once you turn 18, you shouldn’t be gay anymore,” says Tessier.
While openly gay youth are allowed to be Boy Scouts, their leaders are not. “That’s another reason why we are continuing to fight and take the next step, which is getting full inclusion, gay adults included as well,” says Tessier.
Tessier says he doesn’t think he’s special, he’s just trying to change something he doesn’t like, to be able to do something he loves.
Tessier says he is close to becoming an Eagle Scout. He hopes to go to his Eagle Board of Review, which is the final step, in late January.
If you or someone in your family is a Boy Scout and would like to share your story, contact Nikki Burdine at NBurdine@WUSA9.com.
For the full Boy Scouts of America Membership Standards Resolution, click here.
The Boy Scouts of America released this statement regarding the new policy, from Deron Smith, the director of BSA Public Relations.
“With approximately 2.6 million youth members, the Boy Scouts of America works to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.
We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience. Effective January 1, 2014, no youth may be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. The new policy allows kids who sincerely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of the Boy Scouts of America.
Following the approval of the new policy in May 2013, the BSA reviewed its policies and guidelines to ensure a smooth transition to the new membership policy. After a thorough review with both our professional and volunteer staffs our entire Scouting family is prepared to implement the new policy with no major changes to the delivery of the Scouting program.
While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. We’re pleased that the overwhelming majority of our members, familiesand chartered organizations remain committed to the Boy Scouts of America. America’s youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”