Boy Scouts of America – SO queer

You’ll think this is old news, but I don’t care…it’s not old, just flying under the radar.

Here’s the important backstory. I became a Cub Scout with my brothers at the age of 8. My mom was a Den Mother and my dad a Cub Master. After Cub Scouts, I went on to Webelos and then to the Boy Scouts. My brothers phased out sometime around Webelos, but I stayed. In the Boy Scouts, I got acceptance and recognition that I didn’t get or didn’t want in school.  In 1981 I went to work at Camp Lone Oak in Central Florida in the first of 11 years in Outdoor Education. Today, at 42, I still teach a course called Adventure Based Counseling that has, as part of its underlying structure, concepts I learned at Camp in the Boy Scouts.  At 18, I was awarded my Eagle Scout badge and couldn’t believe how great and rich my life was.

Dutifully, I put “Eagle Scout” on my list of other accomplishments on job applications in my late teens and early twenties. Whether or not Sears was impressed, they hired me to hawk housewares for a couple of years. If Florida Power & Light was impressed, the never told me, but they did hire me to read electric meters for them.

Then, in 1990, when I had wrestled with the demons long enough, I came out of the closet and learned how to be gay (oddly enough, it has to be learned).  Part of learning to be gay was realizing that some of the most critical role models I had in the Boy Scouts…men who taught me responsibility and respect for other people…were gay (although deeply closeted).  This affirmed my belief in my own development and helped me integrate what I had learned with who I now realized I always was.

Cut to 2000, when the US Supreme Court supported the BSA’s ban on homosexual Scouting Professionals, gay volunteers and gay scouts.  I thought about it a lot (really…a lot) and decided finally that although I benefitted from my association with the Boy Scouts as a young man, as a professional in the work force, the Boy Scouts benefitted from their association with me; a gay American. Not willing to support them in this fashion, I packed up my Eagle Scout badge, dress uniform medal, and certificate and sent them back to the South Florida Council with a letter explaining my unwillingness to support them by my membership.

I never heard from the BSA until…you got it…this week. Apparently the National Eagle Scout Association (www.nesa.org) is building a directory of Eagles and wanted me to call to verify my information. So I checked to see if, sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, the BSA had re-thought their hateful, right-wing agenda.  Turns out not.

 So I called the number on the post card.  Some third-party publishing company is collecting this list of Eagle Scouts and, no doubt, intends to sell the book right back to all the folks in it.  So I ask the nice, clueless call center guy if he knows anything about the BSAs ban on The Gays.  Of course, he’s flummoxed and doesn’t know what to tell me.  I ask him to take me off the call list. 

It feels a little weird still to reject that accomplishment, but weirder still to accept it.  Oh well.

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