July 30, 2012
BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
To Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive and the BSA National Executive Board,
Scouting has always been very important to me. I began as a Tiger Cub in the first grade and worked my way up through the ranks to finally attain the Eagle Award in 2010. I received the honor on a hot June day in North Carolina alongside two of my Scouting brothers. But I knew that I was not equal to them and their accomplishments, not really—because I was gay.
When parents enroll a boy in Scouting as a child, he does not yet know his sexual orientation—he does not even know what sex is. It is only during the adolescent ascent towards Eagle when a boy may start to notice that he is something that the BSA has told him is sinful, morally wrong, and excluded. This puts the boy in the awkward bind of being a member of Scouting and, at the same time, profoundly not. Perhaps ironically, I decided to stay in Scouting even after I realized my orientation because I had learned that the founder of the Scouting movement Lord Robert Baden-Powell was also gay, just like me. If Baden-Powell could found as great an organization as the Boy Scouts as a gay man (albeit repressed), I knew that I too could do great things as a gay man. Let’s be clear: on a dark night with a knife in a bathtub, Lord Robert Baden-Powell saved my life. This man and his ideals helped me to weather the storm until I reached Eagle, and my hope was that in our increasingly accepting age, that Scouting would soon go back to its roots, forgive itself for its crimes against boys, and position itself anew as Baden-Powell would have: to do the work that society isn’t doing at large to make young boys into the best men they can be.
Today, society and what it means to be “the best man you can be” has changed irreversibly, and, apparently, so has Scouting. For me, Scouting is not about repressive adherence to outmoded social norms or following an arbitrary line marked in the sand—it is about adventure, the joy of knowing yourself, and the fraternity of those boys with whom you shared the depths of a cave and the peak of a mountain. It is also about having the courage to do what you believe is right, and after recent events I must do what I think is right and return my Eagle Award. If this is what Scouting is, well, then, I am no Scout.
This was not in the least an easy decision: I break now with my own father, an Eagle Scout, and Scoutmasters and Scouts I dearly respect. My hope, however slight, is that Scouting will come to terms with it own empty fears and have the courage to do the right thing. If you should ever decide to be inclusive of all boys, please, by all means, mail me back my hard-earned award.
Former Eagle Scout, Troop 10