The New York State attorney general’s office will conduct an investigation of employment practices at the Boy Scouts of America to determine whether the Texas-based nonprofit organization discriminated as an employer against gay people, the New York Times reported Monday. The news comes days after the Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils announced it had hired a gay Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program.
Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout, was hired by the Boy Scouts’ New York City affiliate to work in a scout camp this summer. Tessier has reportedly become a prominent figure among those speaking out against the ban on gay people over 18 years of age in scouting. Wayne Brock, the chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts’ national organization will be called on to provide detailed information to the attorney general’s office on the group’s role in influencing employing decisions there and at its local councils, the Times reported.
In 2013, the debate over discrimination against gays in the Boy Scouts increased after the organization's national board allowed openly gay scouts to join the ranks if they were below 18, but the group's ban on homosexual adult leaders remained, the Times reported. The revisal of the policy reportedly followed a Supreme Court ruling in 2000, which stated that the Boy Scouts organization has a constitutional right to exclude gay members from its ranks.
The decision to hire Tessier reportedly highlights an apparent disconnect between the Greater New York Councils, which runs programs for more than 46,000 scouts, and the national organization.
Kristen Clarke, the chief of the attorney general’s civil rights bureau, in a letter to Brock, reportedly said the attorney general’s office had “received and reviewed information” that the scouts’ “membership policy” may prohibit “the hiring of an individual who recently applied for a position as an adult leader in a Boy Scouts council within New York.”
Clarke also stated in the letter, which was obtained by the Times, that state law prohibits an employer from refusing to hire a person based on sexual orientation.
“Entities that operate in or are registered to do business in the State of New York must comply with these anti-discrimination requirements,” she reportedly wrote in the letter, which did not specify how the attorney general’s office might seek to enforce the state's Human Rights Law against the Boy Scouts.