SCOUTING SUPPORT

Thousands Sign GLAAD’s Petition Denouncing National Geographic’s Boy Scouts Show

National Geographic BSANational Geographic has come under fire recently for partnering with the Boy Scouts of America on a new reality competition show, Are You Tougher than a Boy Scout?, set to debut this spring.

20-year-old Eagle Scout Will Oliver started a petition on Change.org calling for Nat Geo to speak out against the BSA’s anti-gay policy and air a disclaimer before each episode of the series.

The show is part of the BSA’s “strategic partnership” to make scouting seem “cool” with the kids. GLAAD President Herndon Graddick described it as “a marketing ploy” designed to “boost dwindling membership and distract Americans from the Scouts’ long history of discrimination.”

Earlier this week, GLAAD and  Scouts for Equality threw their support behind Will and his petition, which to date has garnered over 13,000 signatures. Despite the public outcry, Nat Geo has refused to make further comment about the show, aside from the following statement:

National Geographic Channel is an international media company that is an equal opportunity employer.  We do not discriminate in any capacity.  As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic, but when people see our show they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate, and is in fact a competition series between individual scouts and civilians.

“That National Geographic would brush aside countless gay teens suffering at the hands of the BSA, shrugging off injustice as just another ‘point of view,’ is irresponsible,” Graddick said in response. “By airing this program, National Geographic is providing support and publicity to an organization that harms young people simply because of who they are. If the network is truly committed to standing by its non-discrimination practices, it should have no problem airing a disclaimer to that effect.”

The BSA will host two webinars today that will teach Scouting participants how they can “help drive viewership, and more important use the show to drive interest in…local programming, recruitment, and fundraising.”

Zach Wahls, spokesman for Scouts for Equality, says that although his organization is “all for promoting the Boy Scouts to new audiences by way of a TV show…without airing a disclaimer, National Geographic risks fortifying a policy that the American Medical Association has described as ‘psychologically traumatizing.”

Will Oliver notes that his petition is not meant to cancel the series but “rather to make a strong statement to the BSA’s leadership about the grave injustice of their policy.” You can help further strengthen that statement by signing his petition here.