Even a partial easing of the no-gays policy — providing for a local option — would be a "huge mistake," Comer said.
"The divide will only get worse," he said. "I can't see any scenario where that works to the benefit of the Boy Scouts."
Now a consultant to Washington-area nonprofit groups, Oliver Tessier was an avid Scout growing up in Louisiana, and he and his wife, Tracie Felker, have been active for 13 years as adult volunteers while their two boys made their way through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Lucien, 20, became an Eagle Scout in 2010 and now studies business administration at Northern Virginia Community College while planning the shift to a four-year university. His brother, Pascal, 16, is on track toward Eagle Scout with the same unit — Troop 52 in Chevy Chase, Md.
"I never had a single bad experience in Scouting," said Lucien, who came out as gay to family and friends while a sophomore in high school.
"I never advertised it but never felt uncomfortable discussing it," he said. "It was never an issue as a Scout. ... It's always been a very welcoming troop."
Yet for all his gratitude toward Troop 52 for supporting him and Pascal, Lucien is frustrated by the official national policy excluding gays as both Scouts and adult leaders. Giving troop sponsors leeway to set their own policies would be a positive step, Lucien said, but he would prefer a nationwide nondiscrimination policy.
His mother has juggled a corporate information-technology job with a steady stream of Scouting duties — den leader, troop committee chair, merit badge coordinator.
She said Scouting had been rewarding for both sons, helping them build self-confidence, acquire leadership skills and develop respect for others.
"I can't be a prouder mom," she said.
Recently, she's been a self-described ringleader of efforts among like-minded parents to intensify opposition to the national no-gays policy.
"It's bothered me a lot — it's bothered a lot of other people I know," she said. "If you look at the Scout Oath and Scout Promise, espousing respect for others, it's just hypocritical to say, 'You should be that way to everybody in the world except your gay friends.'"
"When I say we're involved in Scouting, people wrinkle their nose," Felker said. "When we go door to door for the annual Scout food drive, we've had families in our neighborhood say they won't contribute until the Scouts change their policies."
Lucien doesn't feel any Scout-related stigma himself, but says it's time for change.
"I'm not ashamed of being a Boy Scout," he said. "But I want to see them reverse this policy. I want to see them join the 21st century."
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