I am submitting on behalf of my husband. I am very proud of him for taking this stand.
Boy Scouts of America
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
To the BSA National Executive Board:
In 1959 I joined the Cub Scouts at the Campus School, Oswego State Teachers College, Oswego New York. Here I met boys that became my friends through high school and beyond. Later I moved to Troop #3 at Christ Church in Oswego. Our Scout Master was Harry Gill, a man I respected more than anyone other than my own father.
I learned a lot in the Scouts. I learned knots and camping. I learned about environmentalism (although it wasn’t called that then). I learned social responsibility, about taking care of others, about doing the right thing.
In the late ‘60s I went to Manlius Military Academy. The first medals I “earned”, day one, was my Eagle, my Order of the Arrow, and my Episcopalian “God and Country”. I was encouraged to wear them, even as a plebe, because they stood for something, an achievement the school acknowledged and honored. The Boy Scouts medals were the only “outside” achievements we wore on our uniforms, the only distinctions we were allowed to bring with us to the school.
Years later, being “a Boy Scout” became a derisive term. It meant someone who followed the rules (not good), who looked out for others (how naive), and who was gullibly trusting. I stood up for the Scouts, I was not ashamed to be called “a Boy Scout”. I told people that the Oath and the Law were not things to be derisively dismissed but strived for. There were times I didn’t “do my best”, but I knew that “my best” was always my goal.
Looking back, there were a few other things I learned in the Scouts. I learned tolerance. My French teacher was an atheist and her son joined my troop. It was different, but as Senior Patrol Leader it was my duty to welcome him, to be kind, and in the process I saw how easy it was for other boys (and men) to be uncomfortable around “the others”, those that are different. He became my friend and his mother tutored me in French. I still failed the class, but the fault was all mine.
When I got to Military School I met my first black person and, being the naive “boy scout”, I just thought he had a really great tan. That was when I became aware of discrimination, when he told me “of course you think you’re better, you’re white”.
And now it has come full circle. You will not allow some people to be in the Scouts because of their sexual orientation. You side-step responsibility for your discrimination by claiming that it is best for parents “to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting”. Using that same logic, you could also support discrimination based on skin color, another characteristic over which the individual has no control. Between the lines, you imply there is a connection between your pedophile leaders and homosexuality. There is zero connection. This is not “mentally awake”; nor is it “kind”, “helpful”, or “brave”. No, not brave at all.
I used to be proud of being a Boy Scout and I truly believe that I am a better person for my time in the Scouts. But the Scouts as you have made them are now an embarrassment. I am returning my Eagle, my honor for over four decades, because I do not want to be associated with an organization that promotes senseless discrimination. This is not the Scouts I remember; it is not the Scouts of Honor.
Thomas Carey Salander
former Senior Patrol Leader
Troop #3, Oswego County Council
Eagle Scout with Silver Palm