To Whom it May Concern at the Boy Scouts of America:
About 17 years ago, I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout through Troop 3 in Old Greenwich, CT. My personal experience with scouting taught me thousands of life-lessons and opened more than a few doors in my professional life.
Admittedly, I was embarrassed in my early 20s to be an Eagle; as a musician in a rock and roll band, it simply wasn’t “cool.” But the knowledge that I learned through scouting helped me lead, manage, mediate conflict, and fix any gear that ever broke down (which it often did).
As I grew older and progressed on my life-path, I began to realize how often the personal and professional skills I learned through scouting were influencing both my life and the lives of people around me. People always seem shocked when they ask, “How did you learn to do THAT?” And I answer: “In the Boy Scouts.” Maybe I simply don’t look the part…
I can still repeat both the Scout Oath, Law, and Motto to this day. And while I may not always adhere to a few of the words in the Scout Law (namely: “cheerful,” “obedient,” “clean,” and “reverent”), I firmly believe in the rest of them.
I am TRUSTWORTHY. If I make a promise to someone, I keep it. Namely, I made a promise to myself long ago that I would speak out for anyone who was being unjustly disenfranchised. I stand by that vow to myself for the sake of the world around me.
I am LOYAL. That includes all of my friends, family, and community - regardless of their sexual orientation.
I am HELPFUL. That’s why I’m writing to you now. I was taught never to discriminate and my experience with the Scouts reinforced that belief. After all, I’m LOYAL to my homosexual friends and family; I can be TRUSTED to write a letter on our collective belief of anti-discrimination if I believe I can make a difference. Most importantly, I TRUST that a young man’s sexual identity does not preclude him from learning the wonderful life-skills that scouting could teach the world - if the B.S.A. could stop being so exclusionary. If the B.S.A. was truly HELPFUL, they’d be offering their knowledge and experience to everyone without judgement or discrimination. (My own sexual orientation does not mean that I’m the only one who should know how to tie a knot, build a fire or in a twist of irony - if you like to believe in stereotypes - weave a basket.)
I am COURTEOUS. I’ve attempted to write you a sensible letter that is devoid of harsh accusation and foul language, despite both being my greatest urges upon this matter.
I am KIND. Are you?
I am BRAVE - as are the young men who have found a way to “come out” at such a young age. In the cruel world of teenage social-politics, I can honestly think of nothing more BRAVE.
It would be a great achievement if an organization like the B.S.A. could cast off their antiquated beliefs and actually start believing in the strongest and most prescient points of their own teachings.
Unfortunately, the world has always been filled with hate and discrimination. If we are ever to overcome this fact, what better way to find a solution to these problems than to begin with the minds of young men?
I sincerely hope that you will allow any young man to participate in scouting and become a great man of the future.
29 January 2013
[UPDATE: if you would like to write to the BSA to express your thoughts, you can and should - firstname.lastname@example.org]