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Ovation: Board Member James Turley Works To End Boy Scouts of America’s Legacy Of Discrimination Toward Gays.


As a young boy, I enjoyed being a Cub Scout.  Like most little boys, I was only there because my parents took me there.  It was a lot of fun.  There were arts and crafts projects, snacks at every meeting and we got to wear uniforms with snazzy sashes and bandanas around our necks.  It made me feel important and like a part of a group.  Plus, we learned some basic skills that turned out to be somewhat meaningful later in life.

I gathered as many patches as I could earn, from week to week, and my mother would happily stitch them onto my sash or my shirt using whatever color thread happened to be in her favorite needle.  As I outgrew my Cub Scout uniform and moved on to become a Webelo Scout, I continued to earn badges and learn new skills from my Den Mother and the Boy Scout program.  But, soon, I grew to realize that I was different from the other boys.  And, as I began to create my unique personality, I knew that I didn’t really belong in the “scouts”.  My interests pointed me in other directions and I began to pursue other activities that I could enjoy even more.

Later in life, I learned just how discriminatory the Boy Scouts of America really were.  Their mission wasn’t to help us become the men that we wanted to be … but to become the men they thought we should be.  The organization, I later learned, is (and always has been) extraordinarily homophobic.  So much so that recent headlines involving a Den Mother that was “dismissed” from her position because she’s a lesbian have garnered quite a bit of negative publicity for the BSA.  This woman launched a petition campaign and called on the Board of Directors of the Boy Scouts of America to eliminate their discriminatory policies.  One board member, Ernst & Young’s CEO James Turley, stands with her in calling for an end to the ban on gay scouts.

“Ernst & Young is proud to have such a strong record in LGBT inclusiveness.  As CEO, I know that having an inclusive culture produces the best results, is the right thing for our people and makes us a better organization.  My experience has led me to believe that an inclusive environment is important throughout our society and I am proud to be a leader on this issue.  I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse.  As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.” – James Turley, CEO, Ernst & Young

I commend Mr. Turley for taking a stand against an antiquated policy that does much more harm than good to the young boys of our nation.  Statistics indicate that, since 1910, more than 104 million American boys have become members.  Seventy-two percent of them went on to become Rhodes Scholars and eighty-five percent of FBI agents were formerly scouts. [Corrected from ” and eighty-five percent became FBI agents”].  There are no statistics indicating how many of the men became healthy and well-adjusted adults who just happen to be gay.  People like James Turley are taking steps to help all boys become successful adults regardless of with whom they might one day fall in love.

UPDATE 07/17/12: Boy Scouts Reaffirm Ban On Gays.

Copyright © 2012

From → Ovations

  1. mary i permalink

    I am with you 100% !! And Thank Goodness there are people like Mr.Turley in this world….


  2. wcdameron permalink

    Way to go Mr. Turley! I have been asked in the past to contribute money to the boy scouts, I just can’t do it. Maybe one day, I will be able to.


    • I get perturbed when I learn that they’re allowed to meet in publicly-funded facilities. I cringe when I think that my tax dollars are used to perpetuate their antiquated bigotry. I say gay kids needs to know how to tie knots and two Den Mothers are better than one!


  3. wtzl permalink

    Not sure where the poster got the statistics about how of the (somewhere north of 100 million) scouts, “Seventy-two percent of them went on to become Rhodes Scholars and eighty-five percent became FBI agents.” Unless misquoted, I would suspect those figures to be off by at least an order of magnitude. As to there being no meaningful statistics about how many scouts become well-rounded adults, there is a recent study of the impact of becoming an Eagle scout. Well documented and fairly compelling stuff, but perhaps not to the audience of this site.

    Between 2 and 3 percent of scouts achieve Eagle rank.

    Also, practically ALL BSA organizations have been asked to vacate publicly-funded facilities like schools or libraries. While allowed to visit there, those facilities are not allowed to host Scouts. Any exceptions are being dutifully rooted out by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy organizations. The vast majority of Troops, Packs Teams and Crews are hosted by faith-based or independent groups like Lions Clubs, Elks Lodges, KoC’s, Temples, Synagogues, Mosques and Churches.


    • Thank you for your comments.

      The focus of the post was intended to be on Mr. Turley and his conviction that all boys should be able to benefit from the scouting experience. Without question, boys who go on to become Eagle Scouts often become respected and influential adults. Like Mr. Turley, many feel that becoming an Eagle Scout is a goal that all young boys should be afforded the opportunity to achieve … regardless of who they love, who loves them, who their Den Mother loves, etc.

      The statistics referenced in this post were gathered from several sources including Information from this source is said to be verified as of March 20, 2012.


  4. You’ve got it backwards. 85% of FBI Agents were previously Boy Scouts, not the other way around. Otherwise the Boy Scouts is a VERY successful FBI recruitment campaign.


  5. wtzl permalink


    Thanks for your comment. I was simply trying to clear up a common misconception about the BSA. BSA Troops, etc., almost exclusively, do not meet in nor are sponsored by public facilities. This is a direct result of maintaining their own view of what is ‘diversity’.

    As to Mr Turley’s position, we are all thankful that we live in a country where private individuals and organizations can disagree about what is best for our youth. It is a principle taught in required courses of study within the Boy Scouts. An observation from the study on Eagle Scouts is that they tend to be more tolerant of other points of view, and other religions, than the norm. Whether we change the model of male leadership to fit a contemporary view versus a traditional value is, again thankfully, up to private organizations to decide for themselves.

    Without doubt, Mr Turley’s position, and the other membership initiatives addressing homosexuals in the BSA, will be debated rigorously, and, within the organization. In the end, that organization will decide what its position will be, not outsiders or the Federal government. This, perhaps more than any other, is a founding principle of our country.

    Additionally, subject to copyright restrictions, anyone is free to model any organization on the BSA. A local former scoutmaster in my neighborhood has for almost 20 years run a program for girls, grades 5 thru 9, aimed at giving young women the adventure of the outdoors, and the special bonding of a daughter with her father, based on communication and trust. It is based largely on BSA merit badges, skill development and a final, “high adventure” experience. Oh, yeah, moms are not allowed. Just the girls (there’s also a parallel program for boys) and their dads. Search “High Adventure Treks for Dads and Daughters”.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Ovation: Ryan Andreson and Andy Zerbinopoulos – Eagle Scouts To Admire. « DiatribesAndOvations
  2. Ovation: 5th Brooklyn Scouts – How Scouting Should Be. « DiatribesAndOvations
  3. Diatribe: Boy Scouts Of America Vote To Delay Discrimination Until Members Turn Eighteen. | DiatribesAndOvations

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