BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015
To Bob Mazzuca, Wayne Perry and the BSA National Executive Board
I earned my Eagle Award in 1984. Was inducted by my peers into the Order of the Arrow. Served my troop as Senior Patrol Leader and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. Benefited from including my Eagle Award on my professional resume. Scouting was a time in my life for which I was justly proud.
However, the Boy Scouts of America’s recent affirmation that homosexuals are to continue to be excluded from scouting has made me more embarrassed than proud.
I can no longer support an organization that has institutionalized bigotry.
And I regret that I didn’t do this thing a long time ago. I was proud to be a scout but, even then, I was also embarrassed because I carried a secret.
“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to mumble, mumble, mumble”
When I joined the Boy Scouts, I was already an atheist. My religious education had already failed to instill in me a reverence and fear of god. Yet, I wanted to be in scouting and I lied to do it. Every time I spoke the scout oath, every time I recited the scout laws, every time I pledged allegiance to the flag, I lied about my faith.
When scouting was teaching me about being trustworthy, it was also teaching me how to lie. When scouting was teaching me about loyalty, it was also teaching me about exclusion. While scouting was teaching me about friendship and kindness, it was also teaching me about hatred. While scouting was teaching me about leadership, it was also asking that I follow blindly. While scouting was teaching me about bravery, it was also teaching me cowardice.
I may not be gay, but I do understand the pain, fear, and moral conflict gay scouts must be going through to be part of an organization that reviles and hates them. Not only because my lack of faith put me in a similar situation but because I am an empathic human being. These are not gay scouts. I was not an atheist scout. We are scouts. That should be enough. That should be more than enough.
Scouting Spokesman Deron Smith said in an interview, “We’re naturally disappointed when someone decides to return a medal because of this single policy,”
As narrow minded as you are, this is not about a single policy. Ultimately, it isn’t even about you and your bigotry and your hypocrisy. This is about my honor. This is about my duty. This is about my values and my empathy. The values that Scouting taught me in spite of its policies that would have thrown me out. This is about being a good, moral human being.
I do not expect you to respond in any way to my letter or even a thousand
just like it. You won’t write to me to ask for more information or try to convince me not to go. You won’t reconsider your policies. Your decision was set long before your sham of a review. I could go on for page after page but my words would fall on deaf ears. I will, however, give you this warning; the vision of scouting that you hope to perpetuate will fail. The next generation of scouts, the ones who will take the reigns of scouting after you are gone, are already lost to you. You are the last of your kind. Two thirds of boys of a scouting age have already accepted their gay friends and family members. And when they work their way through the scouting system to replace you, your antediluvian, bigoted values will be excised from scouting forever.
I may even live to see it.
One day, Scouting will reflect not only a diverse cross section of American society but also the best values of humanity as a whole.
But not this day. On this day I am returning my Eagle Award and disassociating myself from the Boy Scouts of America.
Kevin A. Geiselman