A Maryland teenager is the first openly gay Boy Scout to become an Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest rank, according to the advocacy group Scouts for Equality.
High school senior Pascal Tessier is already awaiting the next challenge, which will come this summer when he turns 18.
Until recently, gays had been barred from the Scouts. After years of debate, the organization eliminated the ban for minors effective Jan. 1, but kept the restriction against adult Scouting leaders.
Pascal, who turns 18 on Aug. 5, has said he will apply to become an adult leader and see how the Scouts respond.
“On Aug. 4, he’s an Eagle Scout and has the highest honor,” Pascal’s mother, Tracie Felker, said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Aug. 5, all of a sudden, he’s no longer good enough to be a Boy Scout,” according to Scout policy.
If Pascal is denied membership as an 18-year-old, his mother says, it’s unlikely he will sue because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that private organizations have significant discretion in determining whom to accept.
Instead, “we would continue to address the issue in the public arena through corporate pressure and social pressure,” said Felker, a product manager for Oracle.
Gay rights advocates say they have reason for optimism because former Defense Secretary Robert Gates becomes president of the Boy Scouts in May. Gates oversaw the Pentagon’s repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that gays and lesbians could serve openly in the military.