Pascal (middle left) with his brother and parents (Photo: AP)
According to the Boy Scouts of America website, a Scout must uphold certain values. One of them is bravery.
Pascal Tessier, a gay 16-year-old junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, is a proud scout, and has been since he was little. And judging by his conduct this week, he's brave as well.
This week, Pascal joined a dozen classmates in a protest against the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and leaders, the Washington Post reports.
The demonstration was organized by his school's Gay Straight Alliance, and took place near the National Capital Area Council, a Scouting headquarters responsible for nearly 700 troops.
Because he's open about his sexuality, Pascal is worried he may be denied his Eagle Scout ranking (the highest possible status for a scout).
He has reason to worry: last year, a gay scout in California named Ryan Andresen was denied the ranking, even though he had completed all the requirements. And an Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell was recently forced by her troop to step down because of her sexuality.
Council spokesperson Aaron Chusid told the Post that Pascal might not get his Eagle status because of his sexual orientation.
"Under the current policy, if he is out about being gay, he is not eligible for being a member, which would make it impossible for him to complete the Eagle," Chusid said.
But Chusid also praised Pascal for standing up for what he believes in: "It's easy to talk about being brave when it doesn't cost you anything," he continued.
Pascal and Lucien Tessier (Photo: AP)
Pascal's parents signed him up to the scouts at a young age, as they did with his brother Lucien. At the time, they didn't know both their sons would eventually come out.
When he was in grade 10, Pascal's brother Lucien told his mother he is gay after she overheard him talking on the phone with a boy. Two years later, Pascal told his parents he's also gay.
Their mother Tracie Felker says she was "shocked" by both boys' coming out, mainly because she realized she didn't know her sons as well as she thought. Both she and her husband Oliver Tessier, who was also a scout, love their sons for who they are.
Lucien has already received Eagle Scout status, which can't be revoked once it's granted. But he's worried about his brother's situation.
Pascal says he decided to join the protest because he knowns he has it easier than many other scouts. Both his community and his troop are accepting, and many of his fellow Scouts know he's gay.
"I've never had any negative experiences with being gay," he said. "I've never been bullied or had anyone tell me it's wrong."
Next month, the Boy Scouts of America will hold their annual meeting, where delegates will vote on whether to lift the ban on gay scouts and leaders. That was supposed to be decided in early February, but the organization delayed the decision for "a more deliberate review of its membership policy."
Back in February, 42 conservative groups took out an ad in USA Today urging the scouts to maintain their current policy.
Meanwhile, a series of petitions on Change.org created by Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, ask executives at major corporations to withhold donations from the scouts unless they lift the ban.