Gay Eagle Scout spearheads petition drive
by Timothy Cwiek
May 01, 2014 | 603 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pascal D. Tessier, an openly gay Eagle Scout, is looking forward to his 18th birthday on Aug. 5.

He’s planning for his future as a college student in Ohio, majoring in psychology.

But he’s also worried that his role in Scouting may come to an end when he turns 18, because the organization doesn’t allow openly LGBT adult participants.

Tessier said his experience with Scouting has been extremely positive.

“I love Scouting, I love the experience, I love what they taught me. I would not be the person I am today without Scouting,” he said.

But Tessier, who lives in Maryland, is also aware that not everyone in Scouting holds a favorable view of LGBTs.

“I like what they stand for. But there are small aspects of their policies that don’t coincide with the values they stand for.”

He became particularly concerned in April, when an openly gay Scoutmaster in Seattle was ejected from Scouting. Then the BSA severed ties with a Methodist church that sponsored the Scoutmaster’s troop and pack.

“That was the last straw,” Tessier said.

So he posted a petition on change.org asking that Amazon.com disqualify the BSA from its charitable-donations program.

Amazon.com is the world’s largest online retailer, with headquarters in Seattle.

Its charitable program, known as “AmazonSmile,” donates .5 percent of a purchase to a charity of the customer’s choice.

But AmazonSmile’s guidelines state that participating charities cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.

Tessier wants the national BSA organization and its local councils removed from the program until LGBT adults are accepted in Scouting.

As of presstime Wednesday, more than 75,000 people had signed Tessier’s petition.

“This [petition] isn’t about me,” Tessier said. “It’s about other LGBT members of Scouting who aren’t in a position to speak out.”

He also said he’s not calling for a boycott of Amazon, and that his family makes frequent purchases from the company.

“Amazon is known to be a friend to the LGBT movement. However, they are supporting the Boy Scouts, who discriminate against LGBT folks. So there’s a disconnect.”

A spokesperson for Amazon didn’t return calls and emails seeking a comment.

Tessier said he’s optimistic that Amazon will respond favorably to his petition.

“After people have pointed out to them there is a disconnect in the values they represent and their policies, I believe they’ll make a change,” he said.

Tessier also expressed hope that the petition will encourage the national BSA to accept LGBT adults in Scouting.

“It’s only a matter of time when that will happen,” he said. “It may be next month, or in 10 years.”

Meanwhile, Tessier continues to be optimistic about his future in Scouting. When he turns 18, he intends to seek a leadership position in Scouting.

If he’s ejected from Scouting at that time, he’ll move on with his life, and won’t initiate legal action, he said. But, he’ll always keep his Eagle Badge, he added.

Tessier said he’s prepared to be ejected, but hopes it won’t get to that point.

“I’m aware at some point I may have the overwhelming hate come to me. I’m ready for that. I’m OK with it. I’ve been protected by such a massive support group, I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

R. Duane Perry, a local LGBT advocate, said he supports Tessier’s petition.

He also expressed agreement with Tessier that a boycott of Amazon isn’t necessary.

“It’s hard to understand how AmazonSmile can be happy about supporting the discrimination that the Boy Scouts still promote,” Perry said. “As Amazon becomes aware of the fact that the Boy Scouts still practice intolerance towards LGBT people, I trust they’ll live up to their commitment to equality.”

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