As the Boy Scouts of America prepares to vote tomorrow on a proposal that would change its long-standing policy of excluding gay boys from Scout units, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, is hopeful that the proposal will pass--but says this is just the first step.
“This is a good step in the right direction, we want youth protection throughout the entire program, and it looks we'll be able to see that on the 23rd,” executive director Zach Wahls tells Top Line. “But after that, we have to make sure that we are telling Scouts that when you turn 18 you are still welcome in the program.”
The proposal up for vote will not change the BSA's policy of banning gay adult leaders. To Wahls, changing that policy is not just political, it's personal.
“As the straight Eagle Scout son of a lesbian couple, I know exactly how important lifting the ban on adults is," he says. "I got to see first-hand when I was growing up in Iowa the impact that great, wise, loving parents could have in the lives of my Scouters.”
In addition to advocating for policy changes, Wahls says a big focus of his organization’s mission is to increase understanding around LGBT issues, one conversation at a time.
"What we are seeing is the effect of people having conversations and moving past fear," Wahls says. "When we talk about homophobia, literally the fear around this, is people can have person-to-person conversations...and understand that there isn't anything to be afraid of."
For more of the interview with Wahls, including his thoughts on what basketball player Jason Collins’ announcement that he’s gay means for the LGBT movement, check out this episode of Top Line.
ABC's Alexandra Dukakis, Eric Wray, Paul Dougherty, and Pat French contributed to this episode.