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Zach Wahls to present more than quarter-million petitions demanding Boy Scouts end gay ban

By STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

A straight Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers on Wednesday will deliver more than a quarter-million online petitions to the Boys Scouts of America, demanding they allow gays as members and masters.

“This isn’t a gotcha moment. We aren’t trying ambush the Boy Scouts. It’s to encourage one of the great cultural institutions in this country to change a policy that many of us feel are out of date,” said Zach Wahls, 20, of Iowa City, who will urge the Scouts to reinstate Jennifer Tyrrell as a den mother near Bridgeport, Ohio. Scouts' policy prohibits gays from being members and adult leaders and Tyrrell, a lesbian, was ousted in April.

Wahls will speak Wednesday with Scouts spokesman Deron Smith in Orlando, where the BSA is holding its national meeting this week.

“Yes we will respectfully meet with him. However, the BSA does not plan to change its policy,” Smith told The Miami Herald in an email on Tuesday.

Wahls became well known in 2011 when he spoke to the Iowa legislature on behalf of his family. He opposed a resolution that would end civil unions in Iowa. The YouTube video of Wahls speaking to the legislature went viral and has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.

In April, Wahls published a memoir, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family. It recounts his life being raised by Terry Wahls and Jackie Reger, a lesbian couple who married three years ago in Iowa.

Terry and Jackie “both were scout moms,” said Wahls, who spent a decade in the organization “from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout.”

The Iowa scouts didn’t disqualify Wahl’s mothers, he said.

“Once my moms explained who they were, and they were very honest and very open, there was a little bit of hesitancy,” Wahls said. “Once they got to know my moms on a meaningful level, it became a nonissue. They were just two parents who wanted their son to have an enjoyable and enriching experience in the Boy Scouts.”

“Once we got past the myths and misconceptions and stereotypes, we began to engage on a person-to-person level,” he said.

The Scouts have had a long history of disallowing children and adults who identify as gay or lesbian. In 2001, United Way of Miami-Dade stopped funding the South Florida council over the issue.

On April 10, Tyrrell started a petition on the website Change.org after her 7-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop removed her as den leader because of her sexual orientation. Since then, more than 275,000 people have signed the petition, including celebrities Josh Hutcherson, Benicio Del Toro, Julianne Moore, Fran Drescher, Ricky Martin, Kelly Osbourne and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

After it was announced that Wahls deliver the petitions to the national scout leaders, the BSA issued a statement:

“Scouting values the freedom of everyone to express their opinion and teaches it members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect at all times. The BSA sets polices that are best for its organization and membership. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.”

Wahls acknowledges that although the petition campaign is “trying to put pressure on the Boy Scouts to change their policy ... we wouldn’t want to force the Boy Scouts to change its policy.”

“We want this to be organic,” he said. “We want it to be authentic and be real.”

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I am glad to see the Boy Scouts stand up for values and against allowing a perverted, abnormal and demented person into their leadership.

Would never allow my son to go away for a weekend with a gay troop leader. Don't want to find out if he's one of those man love boyz types

I wouldn't ever want my child to be anywhere near influences of extreme ignorance & bigotry by individuals like JJ or Vic.

I rarely tell people that I am an Eagle Scout because I am ashamed of what the organization has come to symbolize. Needless to say, as a gay atheist, I no longer support an organization that would kick out youth or leaders who were like me.

good for the boy scouts. their decision has cost them millions in federal money but they are standing tall...god bless them and god bless america. no fudge packers or Popsicle eaters allowed.

The gays are licking their chops at the prospect of getting their perverted paws on our kids. Very sick. The petition should be thrown in the trash.

What would Jesus do or say? In my humble opinion, I think He would love the sinner but hate the sin.

gays are nothing but entertainment. they think they have progressed. progress is not a man trying to have sex with a man or a woman grinding on a woman. that causes regression. its like being soooooooo smart you know absolutely nothing and calling it enlightenment..

I do not want my son to work on his merit badge in butt piracy.

You say that you wouldn't want your precious boys to attend a camp out with gay boys?!? I was the only "gay boy" in my troup but was hit on by several fellow scouts AND the scout master.Straight my but!! Innocent!?! I don't think so!! YOU raised them to be bigots! And to be ashamed of their feelings for other boys! You are idiots! And quit hiding behind "God"!! He has nothing to do with your bigotry!

As Jesus would: Love the bigot but hate the bigotry.

Commentator Chaz just wrote that, as a child, his gay scoutmaster hit on him during a camping trip. But now Chas says he wants gay scoutmasters to be on every camping trip. How sick is that?

As a scout who earned many merit badges I am ashamed and embarrassed to let others know I was in the scouts. They have come to stand for bigotry and discrimination. I would never want my children to be associated with such an outdated group.

I am appalled that so many people misunderstand the difference between pedophiles and homosexuals. Statistics actually show that a vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual or consider themselves heterosexual and actively seek working with children. If the scout's policy was run on this evidence then they would be banning straight people who want to work with children. Yet it seems to me that they are actually banning them on no realistic evidence other than their own misinformed and antiquated beliefs.
Perhaps they could introduce witch trials as part of their camping trips and forgo the use of modern medicine to instead have leaches and bad humors?!

Frightening how many homophobes are still out there. Ironic, too how most of the hateful comments are coming from the guys who got boners on camping trips but were afraid to do anything about it. When are all these morons going to realize that it's not all about sex? Oh, and the boy scout "circle jerks" are legendary...

Oh, and another thing: As long as the Boy Scouts continue acting as though it was still 1953, their numbers will continue to shrink. Fewer and fewer boys are involved because smart parents don't want their children involved in an oppressive cult. Since they are a "private organization", they can legally keep people out, but ultimately they are creating their own slow demise.

I'm not homophobic, I just dont like queers. Just like some people dont like sushi. The establishment is trying to social engineer us into thinking this is ok, and everyone can do anything they want. Its no wonder where this entitlement mentality among youth comes from.

Everyone knows that gays are overrepresented in statistics on pedophilia. When a man molests a boy, it's a gay act. I don't believe every gay man is a pedophile, but because a significant number are pedophiles, we need to be prudent regarding scoutmasters. The same goes for the priesthood. Enough damage has been done in the past. Let's try to stop it now and in the future.

Homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy life style. The media and Hollywood continuous to sugar coat this psychological perversion, but the American people are not fooled. The same explanation used to justify homosexuality can also be used to justify the unnatural sexual cravings of pedophiles, those that practice necrophilia, those that engage in bestiality, and so many other sexual perversions which are not as Hollywood cool as Homosexuality.

I feel for these poor people. They are mentally ill and struggle to cope. But I do not want these people teaching my children the facts of life. I do not want these people’s mental illness to be legitimized. And I also feel it is dangerous to freedom when we start to force a particular point of view on private citizens and private organizations such as the Boys Scouts. Baseless good intentions and social experimenting have devastated entire communities in this great nation of ours. This latest good intention has the potential of doing just that to many of our children.

Dan Smith above claims that most pedophiles are heterosexuals. That may well be true. But just as I would not send my daughter on a camping trip with a heterosexual man, I would not send my son on a camping trip with a gay man. It's common sense. It scares me that homosexuals keep pushing this issue.

There's a massive difference between statistics and realty. A huge number of cases go unreported in pedophilia. Mostly sexual abuse comes from a close relative or friend but there is no link between that person's sexuality and the tendency to be a pedophile.
I live in the UK where we have criminal records checks (CRBs) which are highly recommended for volunteers. We have had a huge campaign over the last few years to make organisations that work with young people aware of the dangers and that they can come from anyone. Until the US catches up with Britain on this regard the US will still be in the dark ages and the "land of the oppressive" not free.
In terms of damage these done the government should never have allowed if to happen and when they found out it was they should have started to put measures in place to protect its citizens (children and adults) and educate organisation on the dangers and the facts, NOT the mistakenly held beliefs of prehistorically thinking minorities.

Gays are no more likely to be pedophiles than straight men.

That said, there's a reason that adult men aren't allowed to be Girl Scout leaders and take young girls on camping trips alone.

And that reason, the inherent scumbaginess of men, is the same reason the Boy Scouts are right not to let gay men be scout leaders.

Gay parents can let their sons be Boy Scouts, gay kids can be Boy Scouts, but it's just common sense that the Boy Scouts wouldn't want gay men to be scout leaders. It's just basic probability and liability.

And frankly if a gay man is objecting strongly to not being allowed to be a scout leader then I would think that's reason enough not to let him be...

It is very sad to see comments regarding gay people. B/c when you hear the news and read the newspapers that the pedophilia's are the high percentage of heterosexuals. And the molestations are done by the parents and/or a family member of the child (heterosexual). Oh yeah, also the molestations are done by the ones the profess they are "man of God" (priest, bishops, preachers and cardinals) which are reported but nothing is done to these individuals. So, when you start pointing fingers and writing B.S.,remember that the ones you have to fear are the ones that are within your family and friends that you do not even suspect. So, get over the bigotry and use the common sense of placing the blame where it should be.

If a man has sex with another male, regardless of age, he is gay. If he says he is heterosexual, that's only because he is in the closet. Heterosexual men are not interested in sex with a man or a boy.

This new spin attempt that "gay pedophiles are really not gay" is absurd.

Boy Scouts shouldn't be having sex with anybody.

Wow, more in your face, pro-gay indoctrination! And you wonder why there are people that are not behind your gay agenda! Gays should never be allowed into te boy scouts. A gay man should never be allowed to sleep in a tent with a boy or take showers with him. If you can't handle that policy, then don't join the scouts. My God, is nothing sacred anymore? I bet there are Gays in South Florida that would defend the gay Penn State Football Coach that molested all those young boys. God have mercy on your souls!

This is ridiculous! The Boy Scouts should be able to hire whoever they feel will best benefit their organization! Not who some outside group says they should.

@Sharleen: If a pedophile is molesting children of the same sex as them, that pedophile is gay! Some a preist who molest little boys is GAY! HOMOSEXUAL!

Why don't the gays just start they're own organization!

I'm an Eagle Scout and I didn't sign.

I gay. I am happy. But, in no way do I have or want to have sex with a man. What's wrong with being gay, as in happy. But that hanky-panky stuff; I ain't with it! Let the Boy Scouts remain a straight organization.

Sure, let my kid spend a weekend with a gay troop leader. I'll just let him take a stun gun.

News flash. DOJ statistics show that 2/3rds of all pedophilia cases are INCEST. 75% of victims are girls.
Here's the obvious difference. Pedophiles fixate on CHILDREN. Gay people do not. They love members of the same sex. Plain and simple. If somebody wants to volunteer for the organization they should. Provided that they are properly vetted. But that would apply to
ANYONE irregardless of their orientation.

Ok, I don't agree with many of the homophobic and wildly bigoted statements here but I find it fascinating that when discussing this, you all only think about gay men. Many of your fears are directed at men, Where are your objections to lesbians? Are women somehow safer? If you're going to be bigoted at least be consistent about it.

This is a shameful decision. This is America. I have plenty of money to donate to charities and the Scouts will not get one cent. I know they have a right to do what they wish, but to teach "hatred" of gays is despicable. I am glad I never had a son who might have WANTED to be a SCOUT. Never would I permit belonging to this organization. I am ashamed to admit I live in a country that does this!

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