September 5, 2012
28 Hanover Street
Portland, ME 04101
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
To the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America,
After becoming lost in a thick London fog in 1909 an appreciative American businessman offered compensation to the boy who helped him from disorientation. Refusing payment, the boy explained he is a Scout and helping people is a Scout’s charge.
The Boy Scouts of America, born shortly after the unknown Scout’s selfless act, promises to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices”. However, the organization’s policy of blatant, maladroit, discrimination contradicts its mission. Instead, each new scout learns that some people are different; some people do not belong. Once designed to elevate boys, Scouting is now lost in a dense political fog.
Take my hand. Inclusion over exclusion will lead you from disorientation.
Discrimination in Boy Scout policy promotes bullying, devalues Scouting’s integrity and makes the oath, motto and law appear more like rhetoric than mandate.
My name is Gary Wagner, a once proud Eagle Scout, who earned the rank in 1987. Troop 314 in Raleigh, North Carolina encouraged integrity and excellence. Unfortunately, I also learned homophobia, a social disease that excellence and integrity now demands I confront.
Today, in an effort to ‘do a good turn daily’, I make a career as a firefighter/paramedic. Some incidents, to which my team and I respond, illustrate the result of discrimination, bigotry and hate. There is a palpable cost when people are told they are not good enough, not equal, and not to be trusted. I will never forget the cast iron bathtub, the skull of a sixteen year old boy shot through the fractured steel. “Mom, All I wanted was to be treated like everyone else, I didn’t ask to be gay”, read the blood stained suicide note.
The deceased, a Boy Scout, needed an organization that elevated boys and instead found an executive board made of spineless cowards afraid to stand up to their Mormon bedfellows. We failed that boy, but I will not fail another. Long ago I swore an oath to - keep myself mentally awake and morally straight. It disappoints me that scouting’s executive leadership lost sight of their oath, and refuses to help other people at all times.
Some boys are gay.
I hereby renounce the rank of Eagle Scout. I do this without hesitation or remorse. The Boys Scouts of America’s continued discrimination and promotion of inequitable values leaves no alternative. I encourage all past Eagle Scouts to rise. We took an oath to help other people at all times, not only people who look like us, love like us, or worship like us. I refuse to associate or donate to an organization that turns its back on the very population it claims to embolden; children.
Can you imagine any conduct less ‘morally straight’?