* Ernst & Young CEO says he will work to change gay ban
* AT&T CEO says he supports "change from within"
June 13 Jim Turley, chairman and chief executive
officer of Ernst & Young and a board member of the Boy Scouts of
America, has joined calls to end the group's exclusion of gays.
Another Boy Scout board member, CEO Randall Stephenson of
the telecommunications giant AT&T, said o n W ednesday he favors
diversity but did not go as far as Turley in speaking against
the Scouts' policy.
In a statement issued by Ernst & Young, the global tax and
consulting firm, Turley said he will "work from within" the Boy
Scouts to help change its policy that prohibits gays from being
members or leaders of one of America's largest youth
"I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in
preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and
service. However, the membership policy is not one I would
personally endorse," Turley said.
"As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most
inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within
the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable
Turley's announcement came in the wake of a petition on
Change.org, the web-based social change platform, that was
signed by 275,000 people calling for the Boy Scouts to end the
group's ban on homosexuals.
The petition was started by Jennifer Tyrrell, an ousted
lesbian den leader from Ohio. "We are at a tipping point, with
national leaders within the Boy Scouts now taking a firm stand
to help end discrimination," Tyrrell said in a statement issued
Tyrrell and others are now calling on Stephenson to join
Turley in breaking with the Scouts' gay policy. In his statement
Stephenson did not go as far as Turley, although he expressed
support for diversity and appeared to agree with Turley's
concept of change from within.
"Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T's culture and
operations, and we're proud to be recognized as a leader in this
area," Stephenson said.
"We don't agree with every policy of every organization we
support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on
everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must
come from within to be successful and sustainable."
BSA RESPECTS BOARD OPINIONS
Tyrrell praised Stephenson's record on gay rights at AT&T,
but said support for the Boy Scouts gay policy could undermine
its otherwise stellar reputation. "His company provides
non-discrimination protections, healthcare benefits for same-sex
partners, and much more for gay employees," Tyrrell said.
"The last thing AT&T wants is to undermine its excellent
reputation for supporting LGBT people by failing to support a
resolution that would bring equality to the Boy Scouts of
The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement on Wednesday
it respects the opinions of its board members.
"While we have supporters and board members with different
viewpoints on this issue ... we believe that good people can
personally disagree on this topic and still work together to
accomplish the mission [of the] Boy Scouts of America," the
The group, founded 102 years ago, has so far resisted calls
to change its policy on homosexuals. "While the BSA does not
proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees,
volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to
individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in
behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the
BSA," the Boy Scouts said in an earlier statement responding to
The campaign against the Boy Scouts' gay ban has gathered
momentum in the past 18 months led by Tyrrell and Zach Wahls, a
20-year-old Eagle Scout who has two lesbian mothers.
Wahls, an engineering student at the University of Iowa who
attained the organization's highest rank of Eagle Scout, became
an Internet sensation in January 2011 when his address to the
Iowa House of Representatives supporting gay civil unions logged
more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.
Wahls also delivered Tyrrell's petition last month to the
Boy Scouts of America annual board meeting in Orlando.
The petition urges the Scouts to reinstate Tyrrell, a
32-year-old lesbian mother from Bridgeport, Ohio, who was ousted
as a Scout den leader and treasurer in April because of the gay
The Boy Scouts of America in 2000 won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme
Court ruling allowing the organization to ban gays whose
conduct, the Boy Scouts argued, violated its values.
The Boy Scouts of America claimed more than 1 million adult
volunteers at the end of 2011. It was founded in 1910 as part of
the international Scout movement established in Britain by
General Robert Baden-Powell.