National Geographic Channel is giving critics of the Boy
Scouts' policy ban on openly gay members an online platform in advance of a
scouting reality show's debut Monday night.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said
Monday that gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver had delivered over 120,000 petitions
from the change.org site to the
National Geographic Channel headquarters in Washington asking it to air a
disclaimer on Monday night's debut of scouting reality competition show, Are
You Tougher Than a Boy Scout, which was produced by Original
Productions (Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch) with the help of the
Boy Scouts of America.
The petitions urge the News Corp.-owned channel to denounce
on air the Boy Scout ban on gay scouts and leaders.
The channel, which has denied an earlier request, reiterated
that position Monday through a spokesman. "It is network policy that
the only disclaimers we air are related to content," said the spokesman. But
a network source said a representative of the channel had met with GLAAD Monday
and offered to post a blog on its site written by Oliver. The source said the
channel would make sure to post it prior to the show's airing. A GLAAD
spokesperson confirmed the offer and said they were working on the post, which
will talk about "the dangers and the harms of the gay ban."
Will that suffice? Rich Ferraro, VP, communications, for
GLAAD called it a "nice gesture" on Nat Geo's part and a step in the right
direction, but said GLAAD still wants the channel to explicitly distance itself
from the ban. GLAAD will still contact advertisers to remind them the
channel is airing the show, and will continue to pressure the channel. "We do
think there is still a chance for them to take a leadership role and speak out
against the ban, either with a disclaimer or in a statement."
While Nat Geo has no plans to air the disclaimer, it has
made it clear that its own policy is one of tolerance. "National
Geographic Channel is an international media company that is an equal
opportunity employer. We do not discriminate in any capacity," the company
said in a statement last month. "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
GLAAD was pushing supporters to use Twitter,
Facebook and Instagram to lobby for the disclaimer on Monday. Meanwhile, the Boy
Scouts have been using their website to try and drum up viewership to the
reality series BSA says the show will be "Changing the conversation
about the Boy Scouts," while GLAAD wants the conversation to remain about
the group's policy on gays.