Washington, D.C.—Today, Scouts for Equality, Equality Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio joined together to call on the Boy Scouts of America to reinstate openly-gay Scoutmaster Brian Peffly. Peffly, an openly gay Eagle Scout and former Assistant Scoutmaster of Columbus Boy Scout Troop 192, recently had his membership revoked by the Boy Scouts of America. As part of the campaign, SFE launched www.StandWithBrian.org and a twitter hashtag campaign: #StandWithBrian.
“I joined the Cub Scouts when I was six years old, and I grew up in the program. I earned my Eagle Scout rank in Troop 192 and was thrilled with the opportunity to give back to my old troop,” said Peffly, a volunteer leader of Scouts for Equality. “I’m heartbroken that despite the strong statement from the Simon Kenton Council condemning discrimination, the Boy Scouts have revoked my membership.”
The Simon Kenton Council has stated that their ‘aspirational’ statement on diversity is a reflection of their community, and the #StandWithBrian campaign will engage community stakeholders and encourage Brian’s supporters to make their voices heard.
“We’re proud to stand with Brian and I hope he is quickly reinstated,” said Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality. “While I know that he isn’t happy to be removed from the BSA, the people who have lost the most are the Scouts of Troop 192. Brian is a beloved leader and a role model in his troop, and now he’s gone. It’s a sad day.”
"The Boy Scouts of America aren't staying aligned with their own values," Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio said. "Brian's a scout. An outstanding Eagle Scout, even. Let him scout."
"The actions of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Simon Kenton Council's refusal to oppose them, run contrary to the values of scouting," said Jeremy Pittman, Eagle Scout and Deputy Field Director at the Human Rights Campaign. "We call on the Boy Scouts of America to reverse their decision, reinstate Brian Peffly as a volunteer leader, and stop sanctioning discrimination. Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the opportunity to give back to such an important institution in their life should they so desire."
"This is another reminder that so many Americans continue to face discrimination simply because of who they love,” said Lisa Wurm, ACLU of Ohio policy manager. “As the fight for full equality has strengthened and its supporters grow in size, we must remember that justice is still out of reach for many. It is through people like Brian Peffly, speaking out on their experiences that we can begin to right these wrongs."
The Simon Kenton Council proactively touts its non-discrimination policy on its website, which reads, “The Simon Kenton Council does not believe in denying membership in our program to a youth or adult leader on the basis of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or economic status.” The policy was updated last September, well after Peffly’s sexual orientation had first been reported by Columbus media outlets in early 2014. In a Q&A document published online, the Council continued:
“The statement signifies the Council’s desire to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves, and a belief that an inclusive organization will provide the best opportunities for youth to grow into strong citizens. The statement also is reflective of careful consideration by the board after extensive dialogue within the Scouting family and with community stakeholders.”
“Last September, the Simon Kenton Council approved and adopted a statement on diversity that explicitly said they do not support discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” continued Wahls. “I’m saddened and disappointed that today, Brian’s council has been overruled by the national organization and that he is no longer able to give back to the Boy Scouts troop that played such a pivotal role in his life.”
“The Simon Kenton Council said that it listened to its ‘community stakeholders’ in crafting their statement on diversity,” said Wahls. “I hope they’re still listening.