This week's episode of NBC's GLAAD Media Award-nominated comedy "The New Normal" saw former Eagle Scout David (Justin Bartha) and his fiancée Bryan (Andrew Rannells) taking on the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.
In the episode "About a Boy Scout," David volunteered to help out his friend by chaperoning a Scouts overnight camping trip, despite Bryan's concerns over the BSA's anti-gay ban. Shortly after introducing Bryan to the troop and the three adult Scout Masters, who all seemed to love David and respect his skills, David received a letter from the national board stating that his membership had been revoked for "homosexual conduct." When he announces that he must leave the troop he tells the upset children, "When the Scouts can live up to the values they taught me, I'm happy to be of service. […] I do [love the Scouts], but they don't respect the way that I love."
He goes on to say that "change is coming" to the Boy Scouts and there is no doubt "the world is changing."
WARNING: Spoilers below!
Later in the episode, Scout Master Patrick, who was part of the overnight trip, comes to tell David his son has quit the Boy Scouts because he does not want to be part of an organization that discriminates. Patrick then confesses to being the person who reported David and Bryan to the National Board and goes on to tell David he's the perfect role model and his son looks up to him.
The episode ends with a note of hope from David to the Boy Scouts of America. "No one can deny the world is changing and in some ways the Scouts have changed with it," he says. "So, I'm going to honor the oath I took and use all the values I learned: honesty, perseverance, bravery and courage to fight for change, so maybe one day I can help my son earn his own badges. Like the Scouts taught me, be prepared. Because change is coming."
Recently, recording artists Carly Rae Jepsen and Train were announced as headliners at the Boy Scouts of America's 2013 National Scout Jamboree. Hours after GLAAD joined former Eagle Scout Derek Nance's Change.org petition, which amassed over 70,000 signatures calling on the singers to denounce the ban, Train issued a statement saying they would perform at the show only if the BSA end their gay ban. Jepsen followed with the announcement that she was dropping out of the performance altogether and noted that she "will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level."
On March 4, as part of GLAAD's campaign for the BSA to adopt a national non-discrimination policy, GLAAD and Eagle Scout Will Oliver delivered over 120,000 Change.org petition signatures to National Geographic Channel headquarters, calling on the network to add a disclaimer to its new series, Are You Tougher than a Boy Scout, denouncing the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. The new series, produced in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America, debuted later that night.
Following the petition delivery, GLAAD met with National Geographic Channel representatives, who agreed to publish a blog post by Eagle Scout Will Oliver, which spoke about the harms of the Scouts' discriminatory policy.
GLAAD first started calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 342,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
GLAAD and Scouts for Equality have also called attention to other Americans who are continuing to be harmed by the anti-gay policy, including 18 year-old gay Scout Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle award in October 2012 because he’s gay. Ryan’s mom later launched a Change.org petition calling on the BSA to give Ryan the award he has earned. That petition now boasts over 474,000 signatures.