Today the Boy Scouts of America is holding their annual executive council meeting in Grapevine, Texas. Perhaps the most important thing they’ll be discussing is whether to open the BSA to non-straight Scouts. They will be voting on this issue today (if they haven’t already, I don’t know their schedule), so I’d like to publish this open letter to explain my perspective on this issue.
Dear BSA Executives,
I am twenty-one years old, an Eagle Scout, and an adult leader in my local troop. I have been a part of the BSA since I was a Tiger Scout. My mother likes to tell a story about how, when I was five years old, I tried to join the Tiger Cubs, but I couldn’t because I hadn’t started kindergarten yet. As a child, I wanted nothing more than to be a Boy Scout. My father was a Boy Scout when he was young, and he kept his Boy Scout Handbook on a bookshelf in the den. I remember spending hours reading that book, and memorizing every piece of information. I must have read it cover to cover at least a dozen times before I became a Boy Scout.
Once I crossed over into the Boy Scouts, I rose quickly through the ranks. I learned the Scout Oath and Law, and I took them both to heart. I held multiple leadership positions within my troop, including patrol leader, senior patrol leader, and troop guide. At the age of fourteen, I was inducted into the Order of the Arrow, and at the age of eighteen, I was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.
For me, one of the most important aspects of the Boy Scouts was the charge to help other people. The Scout Law commands Scouts to be helpful, the Scout Oath tells us to help other people at all times, and the Scout Slogan is “Do a Good Turn Daily.” This charge has motivated me to give back to my community in any way I can, and to help people who are less fortunate than I am. Since I became a Boy Scout, I’ve completed over two hundred hours of community service, including one hundred hours by my eighteenth birthday. I have worked in soup kitchens, donated my time to local charities, and recently I spent a week doing community rebuilding work in New Orleans. I fully credit the Boy Scouts for creating and fostering my desire to help others.
I am also bisexual. I, and many others like me, are not permitted to serve openly in the Boy Scouts. If any members of my troop were to learn of my sexual orientation, I would most likely be expelled from the organization. More importantly, if others knew of my orientation ten years ago, I would never have been allowed to join in the first place. I would never have become friends with the people from my troop. I would not have these cherished memories of camping, backpacking, and learning useful skills. I would not believe in the ideals of honesty, compassion, and helpfulness that have shaped my life.
Think of all the other youth who, because they are openly gay, don’t get the chance that I did. Think of how they will never become members of a program that is unique in its ability to create excellent leaders. Imagine how the values of the Boy Scouts won’t be taught to an entire group of people simply because of their sexual orientation. That is wrong. The Boy Scouts made me a much better person, and every boy deserves that same chance. The Boy Scouts is a wonderful organization, and it should be open to every boy, whether they are gay or straight, or somewhere in between. I hope you’ll consider what I’ve written, and vote to allow all boys to become Scouts, without regard to sexual orientation.