BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
Dear Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive and the BSA National Executive Board,
My name is Ted Phillips. I earned my Eagle Scout on February 11th, 2007 as a member of Troop 3, Mecklenburg County Council, Charlotte, NC. I am proud enough of my accomplishment that I did not have to look that date up.
While the process of earning my Eagle was highly formative, it was by no means my only shaping experience. I was lucky enough to be born into a happy family with two wonderful, caring parents. Since before I can remember, they have taught me to be caring and compassionate. In short, they taught me respect—for others and myself.
I am by no means a wise person (how can you be at 21?), but I do consider myself a lot further along than the 15-year-old Ted who first wore the Eagle Scout badge. Even then I drew issue with the fact that sexual orientation at all mattered to the BSA, but now I more than draw issue. I am infuriated. I am bewildered. I am driven to such extremes as returning an object I worked for years to earn.
Since ‘aging out’ of the Scouts at 18, people often ask, “Were you an Eagle Scout?” I have always replied by stating that I am an Eagle Scout. As any member of the Eagle brotherhood will tell you, once an Eagle, always an Eagle. For the first time, I am ashamed that this is the case. When asked that question in the future, I will have no choice but to say, “Yes, I was”.
I will not allow your fearful bigotry to diminish my accomplishment, yet I cannot allow your prejudice to define any part of me. The combination of these two points has caused discord within my conscience, and my struggle to grapple with the issue is the reason I did not write you sooner. But, as I learned in Scouts, I must be loyal to myself and to my friends and family (many of whom are members of the LGBTQ community). My heart tells me to send back my Eagle patch as a demonstration of the stridency with which I hold my views. Know that it was not easy for me to remove from my uniform, and I dream of one day sewing it back on.
I hope that you will hear the calls of the public and Eagle Scouts everywhere to review and reinvent the image of the Boy Scouts. I fear that if something is not done to bring the organization into the 21st century, it will slowly recede into the periphery and wilt. I expect to have a son of my own some day, and unless something is done to wipe the stain of discrimination and hate from the face of the Boy Scouts of America he will never don the Scout uniform. I have faith that homosexuality will one day be a non-issue for Scouting. Once that bridge has been crossed, I will be prouder than ever to be an Eagle Scout. But until that day comes, I cannot be associated with the Boy Scouts of America.