I grew up in the Scouting program, entering as a Tiger in elementary school. As the years went by, I steadily progressed through the ranks: from Cub to Boy Scout, from Star to Life. I earned my stripes alongside some incredibly decent young men, with leaders who led by example, my brothers and father among them. At camp, at the 2005 National Jamboree, and in the wildness of nature, I grew strong under the supervision of this organization, and gained knowledge of survival, lifesaving, and civic duty. In my senior year of high school, I became an Eagle Scout, after a decade of culminating efforts. Now, in adulthood, I try as best as I can to live by the Scout Law.
Significantly, I am also gay; I have been as long as I can remember. As many readers may be aware, the Boy Scouts of America has recently issued a public statement that it will continue to bar openly gay individuals from participation in Scouting: “While the B.S.A. does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the B.S.A.”
I urge readers to sign a petition in protest of this decision. Given my own experiences as a Scout, I will not deny the B.S.A.'s right to defend traditional beliefs and conservative values. I will, however, oppose such positions when they willfully discriminate against people, like myself, who wish to contribute to and benefit from the longevity of the organization. Personally, I was welcomed by my troop irrespective of sexual orientation, and so I would like to extend this welcome to others who are entitled to such a minimum standard of good will.
To be a Scout is to honor one another's differences in the pursuit of shared goals. Please join me in reversing what may otherwise remain a dark stain on the rich heritage of Scouting.