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Boy Scouts of America

New York Investigates Gay Employment Discrimination in Boy Scouts

New York Investigates Gay Employment Discrimination in Boy Scouts


The attorney general's office is looking into the BSA's hiring practices, which may violate New York State law.

Is the Boy Scouts of America practicing employment discrimination against gay people? The attorney general's office in New York is investigating the matter.

The office has requested that the BSA release detailed information on hiring practices for its national organization as well as its local councils, reports The New York Times.

Kirsten Clarke, who heads the attorney general's civil rights bureau, sent a letter to Wayne Brock, the BSA's chief scout executive, requesting the information. The letter notes the organization's current "membership policy" may bar "the hiring of an individual who recently applied for a position as an adult leader in a Boy Scouts council within New York."

Clarke is most likely referring to Pascal Tessier, a gay 18-year-old Eagle Scout who was recently hired by the Greater New York Councils to work at its summer camps. One of the requirements to work at these camps is membership in BSA, which currently bars gay adult leaders over the age of 18. A ban on gay youth members was lifted in January 2014.

State law in New York prohibits discrimination due to sexual orientation. "Entities that operate in or are registered to do business in the State of New York must comply with these anti-discrimination requirements," Clarke wrote to Brock.

Tessier is the first known openly gay person to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout after the BSA's policy change -- receiving his badge in February 2014. Last August, when he turned 18 and became ineligible to participate in scouting, he wrote an open letter to the BSA urging a lifting of the ban on adult leaders as well.

David Boies, one of the lawyers who brought down California's antigay Proposition 8, serves as legal retainer for Tessier and says the organization has not yet taken steps to deny employment to his client. No public moves have yet been made by BSA, though it was "alerted" to Tessier's hiring several weeks ago by a board member for the Greater New York Councils.

"We're hopeful that [Tessier's hiring] signals the end of the last vestige of the Scouts' discrimination," Boies told BuzzFeed upon the hiring. "While I don't want to be overly optimistic, I think this signals, at least the end of this type of discrimination on a national level. Whether or not they're going to allow individual councils to continue to discriminate, I don't know. I hope not, I hope not."

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