Joseph J. Paparone
835 Washington Ave.
Albany, NY 12206
July 31st, 2012
BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
To Mr. Robert Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, and the BSA Executive Board:
It saddens me to write and send this letter, along with my Eagle Scout medal and badge. It was one of the proudest achievements of my life. I consider my time in Scouting to be one of my most important formative experiences. Unfortunately, I can no longer keep this award in good conscience.
I earned my Eagle Scout in 2001, after serving as quartermaster, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster in my Troop. I served on my council’s Junior Leadership Training Conference staff for two years, and performed with the 2001 National Jamboree Band. I learned countless leadership skills which continue to benefit me today, whenever I am given responsibilities at my job, whenever I lead groups of volunteers to serve the least of these in Cambodia, or work to empower our neighbors with disabilities, or mentor youth, or help others in my church family to love and serve their neighbors.
When the Scout’s exclusionary policy was upheld by the Supreme Court, one of my friends, on his way to earning Eagle, dropped out of the program. I wish I’d said something then. When one of my teachers refused to attend my Eagle Court of Honor due to the policy, I should have done something then. Even though at the time, I thought the policy made sense, the exclusion of my friends from participation made me extremely uncomfortable. I’ve grown and changed quite a bit in the past eleven years, and I’d hoped that the Boy Scouts, as an organization, had too.
Sadly, I was wrong. I won’t keep apologizing to my friends for this association. The values that I learned in Scouting are precisely what compel me to honor my convictions in this. The Scout Law states “A Scout is Kind”, and this policy is anything but.
This policy is wrong, and I urge you to reconsider, but until then, I’ll return my Eagle badge, and I won’t wear the uniform of a Scout.
Joseph J. Paparone
Troop 7, Kingston NY