The NCAC is just one of about 300 councils nationwide that will send delegates to Texas to vote on changing the policy. Officials at the Bethesda-based office say they have been inundated with feedback, pro and con, and that the volume of calls and e-mails increased on Friday.
Aaron Chusid, the group’s communications director, said the council is still digesting the resolution to partially lift the ban, but that it appears to be much more supportive of homosexual youth than the one earlier in the year that called for letting local troops set their own policies on the matter. The council will likely not make any public statements in favor or against the resolution before the vote, Chusid said.
Much of the organized lobbying aimed at the council is being directed by Troop 52, which meets in Chevy Chase and is the one of the oldest in the country. Several parents of Scouts in the troop were behind the letter to Hanbury and have also sent letters to all 60 members of the council’s board and those they believe have influence over its members, including J.W. Marriott Jr., of the hotel chain, and Thomas J. Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
They also reached out to Maryland Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), who last week sent a letter in support of lifting the ban to NCAC Chairman Hugh Redd. It was signed by 17 other Maryland lawmakers.
Chusid said he hadn’t met any of these parents before, but is now thinking he should get to know them. “If they can put this much passion into the popcorn sale, we’ll be in really good shape,” he said.
Tracie Felker, whose gay son, Pascal, put his Eagle Scout ranking at risk by publicly protesting the ban at a Bethesda intersection this month, said she and other parents and Scouts have dedicated years to camping trips and community projects.
“We consider ourselves to be embedded in the organization itself, and we’re trying to make change within something we love,” said Felker, whose other son, Lucien Tessier, earned his Eagle Scout ranking several years ago from Troop 52.
She said she has “mixed feelings” about the compromise under consideration. “I am thrilled that the Boy Scouts of America has been able to see that gay youth deserve a chance to participate in a Scouting program equal to any person regardless of sexual orientation. I’m very disappointed the ban on adult leaders is still in place.”
About a month ago, the troop took an internal survey and 90 percent of those who responded were in favor of lifting the ban. Felker has since created a parents group that now draws from about 10 other troops, including Troop 33 in Takoma Park and Troop 8 in Bethesda.