The Boy Scouts of America’s announcement on July 17th to continue to discriminate against scouts and scouters based on sexual orientation was disappointing to say the least. I was hoping that scouts would overturn their discriminatory regulations — many of which are based on asinine assumptions like gay men being being more likely to be pedophiles — but I was let down by the organization I hold in such high esteem.
The Boy Scouts of America bans participation by openly gay, bisexual, or transgender kids and adults. While it’s legally their decision as a private organization many don’t believe it’s the right one.
The importance to a scout of the Eagle Scout award is hard to explain. It’s a huge deal that requires a ton of commitment from a young person. 21 merit badges, countless night of camping and a community service project proposed, planned and organized from start to finish by the scout. A relatively small portion of scouts earn the award and they form a highly elite group of kids. Since the awards inception in 1911 about 2.1 million men have earned the award. Being an Eagle Scout is a life long accomplishment with scholarships available in college, a higher rank at military enlistment and instant recognition on their resumes. I personally have had more than one interview go my way due to an award I earned when I was 16.
I grew up in scouts. From Cub scouts all the way through to getting my Eagle, scouting gave me some of my best childhood memories and opened me to new experiences, hobbies and friendships that I still have today. Denying gay scouts and scouters those same opportunities is deplorable and apparently I’m not the only Eagle scout that found the decision such.
When Eagle Scouts recently started returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, it was no small matter. But it might just be the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout – after all the Scout Law does tell us to be Friendly, Courteous and Kind.
If you choose to return your award, you can mail it to:
BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
If you’re interested in changing scouting for the better. Zach Wahls the kids that spoke to the Iowa State Legislature last year about his moms and why he wants Iowa to have equal rights protecting gay and lesbian couples is also the co-founder of Scouts for Equality, an organization made up of active scouts and scout leaders attempting to get the BSA to change their policy. Join their mailing list, sign their petition, and share your story.
For more example of letters head over to BoingBoing