To whom it may concern -
I am renouncing my Eagle Scout rank in protest of the political stance of the Boy Scouts of America that excludes homosexual scouts and leaders. The politics of exclusion that were reaffirmed recently, far from strengthening the moral foundation of the BSA, further erode the oaths and mottos the organization was founded upon.
Through my youth, and to this day, the morals of Scouting have formed the core of my identity. I was a member of Troop 495, in Pensacola, Florida, under Scoutmaster Bill Jenkins. During my scouting days my life was happily organized by weekend camping trips, summer camps, community volunteer projects, and travels to high adventure bases. My experience at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, affected me so deeply that I went back two summers to work there - the first in the Base Camp’s Trading Post, and the second at Crater Lake.
My Eagle project was a man-made pond with a path and wooden benches outside of a state-sponsored retirement facility in Pensacola, Florida. It’s withstood two major hurricanes and, though I’ve moved away from home, continues to be a place I visit whenever I’m in town. The day my parents stood beside me and pinned on my Eagle medal was one of the proudest of my life.
It is heartbreaking to me that an organization that so profoundly affected me as a youth is unavailable to those who could perhaps benefit from its structure and camaraderie the most. Teenagers who grow up gay are four times more likely to take their own lives. This fact has nothing to do with the nature of sexuality - in fact, suicide rates are lower where gay kids are accepted. Rather, the turmoil and abuse gay kids face growing up stubbornly persists in our society because it is implicitly sanctioned by policies such as yours, which buttress the fallacy that homosexuals aren’t as good as their straight peers.
As clichéd as it sounds, I still live by the virtues espoused in the core of the scout oath, law, and motto. This renouncement is keeping with those laws I recited so many times - “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” If the Boy Scouts of America strives to set a moral baseline for its members, it must first listen to its conscience, rather than becoming a feckless proxy for the conservative religious groups that dominate its membership registries. Because each time a decision like this is made, more kids lose the chance to participate in something truly life changing - and the BSA continues its slide into mainstream cultural irrelevance.