A teenager has become the first openly gay person to become an Eagle Scout, the highest honour accorded by the Boy Scouts of America, a group which only overturned its ban on gay members on January 1.
Maryland teen Pascal Tessier (pictured centre), who turns 18 on August 5, has said he will apply for to become an adult leader but may not be successful since the Scouts have retained restrictions against allowing adult gay Scouting leaders.
“On August 4, he’s an Eagle Scout and has the highest honour,” Pascal’s mother, Tracie Felker, told the Los Angeles Times. “August 5, all of a sudden, he’s no longer good enough to be a Boy Scout.”
Gay rights campaigners are hopeful that upcoming personnel changes within the organisation will lead to greater acceptance of gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
In May former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who oversaw the Pentagon’s repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, will take over as president of the Boy Scouts of America.
“There’s just a lot of conversation happening internally that we couldn’t have predicted happening eight months ago,” said Zach Wales, executive director of Scouts for Equality. “We’ve been here before and we have a lot of work to do, but we’re excited.”
The Boy Scouts of America has about 2.5 million members, of which only 2% become Eagle Scouts each year.
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