GLAAD is backing a petition protesting National Geographic Channel's collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America, a group that does not allow openly gay members.
The advocacy group backed a Change.org petition started by Will Oliver, a 20-year-old gay Eagle Scout, that calls on Nat Geo to air a disclaimer clarifying the network's views before each episode of its new series, "Are You Tougher than a Boy Scout." It debuts this spring.
“That National Geographic would brush aside countless gay teens suffering at the hands of the BSA, shrugging off injustice as just another ‘point of view,’ is irresponsible,” GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said in a statement. “By airing this program, National Geographic is providing support and publicity to an organization that harms young people simply because of who they are. If the network is truly committed to standing by its non-discrimination practices, it should have no problem airing a disclaimer to that effect.”
Nat Geo did not immediately respond to calls from TheWrap requesting comment.
But in a statement to GLAAD, the network said the show has "nothing to do with this debate" over the Boy Scouts' LGBT policies.
"As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic," Nat Geo said in the statement, "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 civilians."
GLAAD pointed to the Boy Scouts' October 2012 Progress Report of its National Council Strategic Plan 2011-2015. It cites the Nat Geo series as a “strategic partnership” aimed at promoting the idea that "scouting is ‘cool’ with youth.”
The report states that the Scouts will begin working on marketing plans with National Geographic for “leveraging the show with Scouting audiences and audiences outside of scouting.”
“It’s all too clear that this show is just a marketing ploy, crafted by the BSA to boost dwindling membership and distract Americans from the Scouts’ long history of discrimination,” Graddick said. “National Geographic Channel is the means to that end and must therefore make it clear where the network stands.”