CONGRATULATIONS TO METRO DC PFLAG BOARD MEMBER TRACIE FELKER AND HER FAMILY: The First Openly Gay Eagle Scout
History was made earlier this month when Pascal Tessier–son of proud PFLAG mom and PFLAG Metro DC board member Tracie Felker–became the first openly gay scout to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest within the scouting organization.
Becoming an Eagle Scout was a major moment for Tessier.
“It was important for me to become an Eagle Scout because I believe in the values that Scouting upholds: being helpful, trustworthy, loyal, kind, brave, reverent,” he said. “It is Scouting’s highest honor and would be the culmination of over 10 years in Scouting. I was also inspired to be an Eagle Scout because my older brother, Lucien (who is also gay), is an Eagle.”
Up until January 1st of this year, openly gay teens were banned from the Boy Scouts. At that time, that policy was changed, although the ban on gay scout leaders remained in place. That policy hasn’t changed which means Tessier, who will turn 18 on August 5th of this year, is prepared to be forced to leave the scouts.
Says Tessier, “At some point in the future, both my brother and myself will be adult Scout leaders. We’d like to show young Scouts that it’s okay to be gay and that gay adults can model Scout values, just like straight adults.”
This policy banning openly gay scout leaders infuriates many, including PFLAG member Felker, who complained about this policy to the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, saying, “On August 4th, [Pascal’s] an Eagle Scout and has the highest honor. August 5th, all of a sudden, he’s no longer good enough to be a Boy Scout?”
Despite the policy regarding adult scouts, Pascal felt incredibly supported during his scouting years.
“I was honest about who I was with my fellow Scouts and Scout leaders. No one made me feel unwelcome. It just wasn’t an issue. However, when the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their ban against gay Scouts in the summer of 2012, I began to talk with my family and friends about advocating for change. I realized that as a gay Scout, I had a huge support network that many other gay Scouts (closeted or not) probably didn’t have, a supportive family, an accepting nondiscriminatory Scout troop, and a great group of friends at school who knew I was gay and couldn’t care less about it. Because I had all this support, I felt that I could speak up on behalf of those gay Scouts who couldn’t.”
Felker shares her son’s positive opinions of scouting for kids, saying, “I strongly encourage gay parents and gay youth to get involved in Scouting. It is a great program. It is fun and it teaches wonderful values – the importance of personal responsibility and integrity and commitment to social good. The more gay youth and gay parents are involved in the program, the more quickly the last vestiges of discrimination will be removed. The goal is to have a program where Scouts are just Scouts, not straight Scouts or gay Scouts. The goal is prepare youth for adulthood and for being a positive influence on the communities in which they live, regardless of sexual orientation.”
Pascal’s personal efforts to stand up fearlessly and courageously to advocate for a change to BSA policy shows his commitment and perseverance to support the need for positive change. He is not only a PFLAG son, but a young leader who has chosen to stand for LGBT equality and justice, buoyed from a foundation of strength born from the love and support of his family and the need to inform the uninformed that fear is not an option, especially when standing up for their rights and the rights of others.
We congratulate Pascal on this incredible achievement, and know that he and his family will continue to be a force for positive change within the BSA.
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