Boy Scouts' New York charter hires first openly gay camp counselor

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Fourteen Scouts from Victor, Idaho's Troop 82 together receive the Eagle Court of Honor | Boy Scouts of America

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) -- In a defiant move against a ban on hiring openly gay adults, a New York Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America announced Thursday it will employ the organization's first publicly gay Boy Scout to serve as a camp counselor this Summer.

Last February, Pascal Tessier, 18, was named the first openly gay Boy Scout to achieve the top rank of Eagle Scout. Now Tessier is taking a leadership role at New York's Ten Mile River Scout Camp.

Though the National BSA began allowing gay youth members into the organization in January 2014, the change to its membership policy did not make allowance for openly gay adult leaders.

Since a change to the nationwide policy has not occurred, a spokesman for the 105-year-old organization, Deron Smith, said they are looking into the matter, but refrained from further comment, according to the New York Post.

A board member of the The New York group, Richard Mason, reportedly said Tessier had been hired because he was "highly qualified on all the merits."

Mason summed up the group's disregard for BSA policy banning openly gay individuals in leadership as ensuring against anti-discrimination.

"We have an anti-discrimination policy, we believe in it very firmly, and we are executing on it," he said.

Though Tessier has actively advocated to move the BSA to accept gay scouts and leaders, he is not the first to challenge the organization on the issue. Last year BSA revoked a charter of a Seattle Washington troop for refusing to remove an openly gay scout master.

According to Buzzfeed News, Tessier plans to take legal action if the BSA intervenes and has already selected Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, as his legal counsel. Davide Boies is known for challenging marriage bans in California and Virginia.

In recent years conservatives have denounced the organization and severed ties with the group for capitulating on allowing openly gay boys to become scouts. The Southern Baptist Convention approved an amendment against the decision. Some churches and individuals have gone further, turning to alternative organizations like Trail Life USA, a recently established young males group that claims to be "unapologetically Biblical" in its teaching.