Nathaniel P. May
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
7 January 2013
National Council, Boy Scouts of America
Attn: Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015
Dear Mr. Brock and Members of the National Council:
Earning the rank of Eagle Scout was a boyhood dream, starting from the lowest rung possible, Tiger Cubs. The memories are too many to recount, and the skills I learned are too many to number. I was a weird kid, preferring piano and HTML over most social situations. Looking back, I had little in common with most of my troop-mates. But through the common toil involved in the activities we did, I learned to find bonds even through the differences.
For all the difficulty I had with growing up, I was lucky in at least one regard: I was straight. For my peers who had to struggle with a less-accepted sexuality on top of the other pains of individuation, a chance for others to see through their differences would be of even higher value. But it wasn’t possible with the Scouts.
At the time, this did not affect my dedication to the BSA. I proudly accepted my Eagle badge, seeing it as a landmark in my transition to manhood. But in the seven years that followed, this feeling of pride has eroded.
Perhaps, paradoxically, I wouldn’t feel the responsibility to take this action without the influence of the Scouts. Scouts taught me a sense of citizenship – of acting on principle simply because people who do so govern themselves. The world I live in is crowded and diverse. If I’m going to be a citizen, my actions in the world will somehow respect both its crowdedness and its diversity. An attempt to live in a comfortable, homogeneous world is a rejection of the duty of citizenship. It is with great pain that I acknowledge that the Boy Scouts of America has neglected this duty.
It has taken months after the July ruling for me to convince myself to part with my Eagle badge. A very large part of me would rather not stir up trouble, rather assume that it’s somehow not as bad as it sounds. But the part of me that Scouts referred to as “honor” sees through this. I hope some day to be able to return to the organization after it has reconnected with its own principles. But today, with the utmost respect for the many mentors who helped make my Eagle rank possible, I must give to Caesar what is Caesar’s: an idea of honor that has been made dishonorable.
Nathaniel P. May
Formerly of Troop 12
Huntington, West Virginia