Dear Members of the National Council of the BSA,
I understand that the BSA has reaffirmed its long-standing ban against openly homosexual leaders, youths as well as adults. I have also recently learned of Maryland Pack 442’s brave stance against LGBTQ discrimination, and the National Capital Area Council’s threat to rescind their membership. With these matters so powerfully in public view, other Scouts braver and more attentive than I have led the way. A Scout knows how to recognize and follow good leadership. I therefore enclose with this letter my Eagle Scout medal and badge, symbols of lifetime membership in Scouting’s brotherhood.
Receiving my Eagle Scout medal remains among the proudest accomplishments of my life, and I relinquish it with great reluctance. Scouting, for me, was a school of leadership and confidence. It was often a haven where kids like I and my geeky, misfit, and eccentric friends could thrive and shine. I remain grateful to Scouting for its many lessons, and I value the opportunities it provides for young people worldwide.
Unfortunately, Scouting was also in my experience frequently a school of paranoia and hatred, and I witnessed more than once the ill effects of its obtuse enforcement of sexual norms. I find it particularly perverse that the BSA relies on the category of “leadership” to exclude gay youths as well as adults from full participation in its programs. To sow mistrust while driving LGBTQ youths into hiding accomplishes only the deformation of leadership in demagoguery.
I applaud those who will continue to work from within to transform the BSA into a hospitable, nourishing community for all. But Scouting taught me that leadership begins with (1) knowing the resources of your group and (2) understanding the group’s needs and characteristics. My own strengths do not include the patience or tenacity to struggle with this recalcitrant and too often harmful organization from within. I may, however, have some other small thing to offer. After the reaffirmation of its exclusionary policy, the BSA needs to face multiple kinds of pressure, both the sustained efforts of committed volunteers and the earnest, heartfelt reproval of former participants like me. The latter is a need I can easily address.
To renounce my Eagle Scout rank is a formal recognition of the rift that already exists between me and the organization that was so important to me in my youth. I can still voice support for Scouting as a worldwide movement, but I cannot support the Boy Scouts of America that awarded me this medal. I look forward to a time when I may in good faith return to contribute to the Scouting programs that did so much for me.
yours in the spirit of Cheerful Service,
David Laurence Gonzalez Rice (formerly David Laurence Rice), Ph.D.
Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow
Former Vice-Chief of Na Tsi Hi Lodge 71
Founder’s Award Recipient
Former Junior Course Director of JLT
Senior Patrol Leader and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 134, Monmouth Council BSA