Meet The Teen Who Can’t Become An Eagle Scout Because Of The Boy Scouts’ Anti-Gay Policies
There’s been a lot of talk about the Boy Scouts and their policy of denying membership to boys kids who identify as homosexual. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have issued statements saying that they don’t agree with the measure. One of our own writers has pledged to remove her son from the organization after it was revealed that the Boy Scouts protected and failed to report the police about child molesters in their ranks. Now, a young boy is about to lose his chance to be an Eagle Scout, an accomplishment that takes lots of hard work and dedication for teens to achieve, because he recently came out to his friends and family.
Ryan is a high school senior who has been active in the Scouts most of his life. To get your Eagle Scout status, boys have to complete a community service project. Ryan decided to build a “Tolerance Wall” for his school. He worked with elementary school kids to create 288 unique tiles showing acts of kindness then constructed the wall as a type of visual “It Gets Better” message. He wanted to show bullying victims that nice things happen too.
But then, when it was time for his Scoutmaster to sign off on his paperwork, the leader said no. He refused to grant Ryan’s request because he had learned that the teen was gay. This young boy had completed all of his requirements. He had done the hard work, and dedicated his time to an organization that he believed in. And now the Scouts want to disown him. They want to pretend that he isn’t one of them anymore because of his sexual orientation.
My husband was an Eagle Scout. I suppose he would say that he is an Eagle Scout. (You never stop being one, I’ve been told.) If we have a son, I know that my husband would hope that they would do Scouts together. He has fond memories of camping with his dad, of completing his own project that ended up featured in the local newspaper. He’s proud of the Scouts, though I know he’s been sad to hear about the scandals and the intolerant rhetoric.
I have a good friend who is an Eagle Scout as well. He went through the entire process, a couple years after my husband. That friend told me that he was gay during his sophomore year of college. He’s still an Eagle Scout now, though I guess they wouldn’t like him claiming such. When I asked him if he would want his potential kids involved in the program, he was a little less enthusiastic. After all, if the organization won’t allow gay teens, how would they feel about a child who has gay parents?
Ryan and his family have started a Change.org petition to ask that the Boy Scouts of America grant Ryan’s Eagle Scout request. They are hoping that having a face to this issue will convince the Scouts to join modern times and accept a more open philosophy.
Personally, I just hope that the Scouts know that they probably won’t keep homosexual teens out of the organization. After all, kids start the program young, before they might even have figured out their own sexual orientation. All that the Boy Scouts will do if they continue this discriminatory practice is keep gay teens silent. They’ll keep them hidden and afraid to open up. They’ll make those difficult teen years even harder, with added pressure to pretend to be something you’re not.
The current policy of the Boy Scouts punishes teens like Ryan for being honest. And that is something that every Eagle Scout should be offended by.