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lizmarie1975
The first openly gay Boy Scout becomes Eagle Scout
February 11 at 9:10 PM


CHEVY CHASE, Md. — Change is coming quickly to the Boy Scouts of America after years of turmoil and debate over its membership policy, with an openly gay 17-year-old in Maryland achieving the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

On Monday night, Boy Scout Troop 52 of Chevy Chase, one of the nation's oldest, formed a circle and gave Pascal Tessier sustained applause and some handshakes and pats on the back. His achievement comes just weeks after the organization lifted its ban on gay youth and may make him the first publicly gay Eagle approved under the new policy.

Scoutmaster Don Beckham walked to the middle of the Scout circle after a series of announcements about supplies for the next campout and announced the 17-year-old Tessier was officially the troop's newest Eagle. For Tessier, it represents six years of work, 27 merit badges and projects in service, leadership and outdoor skills. He put all that at risk, though, to advocate publicly against the Scouts ban on gays.

"A Scout is brave," Beckham told the troop, quoting from the Boy Scout Law after presenting Tessier his Eagle badge.

"To be a leader, there are going to be situations where you are going to have to stand up for what you believe is right," Beckham said. "You may be asked to make personal sacrifices, to potentially give up your dreams because you are helping to make something happen that is important for a lot of other people. ... And when it's a principle that you believe in, use your Scout training and stand up for what is right because a Scout is brave."

Tessier's mom, Tracie Felker, looked on with other parents and said it was "a new era." The fight over the Boy Scouts' membership policy has persisted for decades, including a Supreme Court decision in 2000.

For more than a year, Tessier, who lives in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Kensington, has been one of the most prominent openly gay scouts speaking out to change the Scouts' longstanding ban. After a vote last year, the organization of 2.5 million youth members officially opened its doors to include all boys, regardless of sexual orientation. A ban on gay adult leaders remains in place.

While there is no official tracking of gay members, Tessier is likely the nation's first openly gay Eagle approved under the new policy, according to the advocacy group Scouts for Equality.

Tessier's brother, Lucien Tessier, who also is gay and an Eagle Scout, launched an online petition last year gathering 130,000 signatures on Change.org after a local Scout official said it would be impossible for Pascal Tessier to complete his Eagle rank if he is openly gay.

For Tessier less than a year later, it's "a huge sigh of relief" to finally have his Eagle badge approved by the Scouts' national headquarters in Irving, Texas.

"Even if I had been kicked out along the way, I wouldn't have changed anything," he said. "The whole experience was something worth having, not only for myself but also for all the other people involved — and for all the people it affects."

Even though he had a supportive troop with its own all-inclusive policy, Tessier said he wanted to speak out about the Boy Scouts' national policy after seeing other gay scouts or leaders kicked out or denied the Eagle rank in recent years, including the high profile case of Ryan Andresen, a California teen. Despite the success in changing the Scouts' policy, Tessier said he plans to continue advocating.

"On my 18th birthday, I'm planning on applying to be an adult leader for the Boy Scouts so that we push the issue," he said.



Replies

  • JMmama
    by JMmama
    February 11 at 10:08 PM
    Good for him! Attaining Eagle Scout takes a lot of hard work.
  • lizmarie1975
    February 12 at 9:23 AM

    BUMP!

  • jcrew6
    by jcrew6
    February 12 at 9:43 AM

    Good For him.  He should be celebrated for his hard work to get where he is today.

  • jjames1990
    February 12 at 9:44 AM
    So awesome and I love that it happened in my state. I really think MD is going to become the new age state. Love it.
  • mikiemom
    February 12 at 9:54 AM

    Good for him. I saw the picture on Facebook - wow he has a ton of patches, his parents must be hard-core boyscout people lol

  • mikiemom
    February 12 at 9:55 AM

     I have friends in MD who are seriously involved in the Boy Scouts - so much that their kids are adults and they still volunteer and help out they were talking about this the other day and were very proud to be so inclusive

    Quoting jjames1990: So awesome and I love that it happened in my state. I really think MD is going to become the new age state. Love it.

     

  • jjames1990
    February 12 at 9:56 AM
    My aunt and uncle are 60, their kids are adults and they still lead troops. It makes me giggle to see them in their uniforms. Lol

    Quoting mikiemom:

     I have friends in MD who are seriously involved in the Boy Scouts - so much that their kids are adults and they still volunteer and help out they were talking about this the other day and were very proud to be so inclusive


    Quoting jjames1990: So awesome and I love that it happened in my state. I really think MD is going to become the new age state. Love it.

     

  • lga1965
    by lga1965
    February 12 at 10:05 AM
    That's nice !
  • Ziva65
    by Ziva65
    February 12 at 11:16 AM

     haha- that is how I feel We are sort of immersed in it, with my three boys shortly obtaining Eagle here in CA. My husband is a local board member. I always crack up when the men, many with oversize bellies, wear shorts and scout uniforms... add the hat and it's really funny. (They get a bit annoyed when I laugh but I really can't help it.) I call it the peacock club... :)

    Quoting jjames1990: My aunt and uncle are 60, their kids are adults and they still lead troops. It makes me giggle to see them in their uniforms. Lol

    Quoting mikiemom:

     I have friends in MD who are seriously involved in the Boy Scouts - so much that their kids are adults and they still volunteer and help out they were talking about this the other day and were very proud to be so inclusive


    Quoting jjames1990: So awesome and I love that it happened in my state. I really think MD is going to become the new age state. Love it.

     

     

  • FromAtoZ
    February 12 at 11:22 AM

    What an achievement!  Good for him.

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