Gay Boy Scout denied his Eagle Scout award

Back in the Summer, I told you about a movement among Eagle Scouts, some of whom have been sending back their awards — in effect, resigning — in protest of The Boys Scouts of America's discriminatory policy banning gay, bi, and trans scouts and troop leaders, as well as atheists.

Here's a great example of the people those men are trying to stick up for: Ryan Andresen is 17, he's been in Boy Scouts for over a decade and has completed all the Eagle Scout requirements, including working with younger kids on a tolerance/anti-bullying project for his community service requirement.

But Andresen isn't going to get to be an Eagle Scout, because he's openly gay.

The Boy Scouts of America sent a statement to several news organizations, including ABC, in which they say they didn't inquire about Ryan's sexual orientation.

"This scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout counselor that he does not agree to scouting's principle of 'Duty to God' and does not meet scouting's membership standard on sexual orientation," Deron Smith, a spokesman for the organization said in a statement. "Agreeing to do one's 'Duty to God' is a part of the scout Oath and Law and a requirement of achieving the Eagle Scout rank."

In an interview with Yahoo! News Ryan said that his scoutmaster knew he was gay.

"He had been telling me all along that we'd get by the gay thing," Ryan told Yahoo News. "It was by far the biggest goal of my life. It's totally devastating."

Read more at National Public Radio's news blog

Check out a Tumblr collecting nearly 200 Eagle Scout resignation letters from adults who no longer want to be associated with an organization that would deny a kid something he's worked hard to achieve simply because that kid is gay. (Again, the BSA is entitled to its opinion on this matter. But its members are also entitled to express their disgust with that opinion.)


  1. I wonder if one of they guys considering returning his Eagle Scout medal and material would consider ‘passing’ his on to this kid?

    1. I am sure that is not the point – Ryan EARNED the real thing. I cannot tell you all the junk projects I know have been awarded the Eagle – Ryan DESERVES his. Good luck kid…

      1. I agree, it isn’t what *should* happen; the BSA should consider that their ‘standards’ need to be reconsidered, and brought into line with other scouting organizations.

        Until they do, I think having the Eagle Scouts themselves recognizing worthy candidates that the BSA Inc won’t is as good a fix as is possible.

        And receiving a medallion with a history is another level of honor in itself.

      2. Actually, I think that IS a good point.  If the BSA wants to stop being a beacon of ethical behavior, the actual scouts should stop following it.  Hell, if he earned the Eagle, I think he should get one, whether or not a hateful group of old men want to be the ones who give it to him or not.

        In short, I reject the authority of the BSA to kick out gay people & atheists.  We should not recognize their authority any longer.

        1. that’s strange: the BSA IS the authority on what the BSA has authority over. 

          The presbterian church kicks out atheists too. The Shriners and Masons are also non-atheists. 

          1. Weird to bring up Presbyterians; aren’t they part of a radical splinter movement where a dude was like “hey, I reject the authority of the Catholic church”? Sort of reinforces my point more than contradicts it.

            My point: the SCOUTS are the BSA, not a bunch of old dudes in Texas.

        1. As a gay, former scout and former scout advancement chairman, I encourage people who are gay and hold Eagle Scout badges to hold on to them.  Every one of those in gay hands is an embarrassment to the fools that run the organization.  

      3. Actually he didn’t earn it.  To earn it, according to the Boy Scouts, you have to like girls and god (in that order I believe).  With those rules in play, all he can do is get close to earning it (if he was a girl, would it change the argument?).    And accepting the Eagle Scout designation knowing that he doesn’t meet those things would go against what is, or rather was, the spirit of the Eagle Scout.   Either they need to change the rules or he needs to move on.

        My question is why he is even still bothering with it.  Why give the Boy Scouts the time of day if they treat you as second class.  Find some group or goal that is worth your attention and your presence.  Accepting the Eagle Scout designation would be beneath him and anyone who holds the spirit of Eagle Scout to it’s idealistic form (including those that stood up and mailed their medals back in).

        1. Because it prepares you to deal with State and Federal lawmakers. 
          Funny I haven’t found a way to opt out of their control yet.

        2.  He started the path toward Eagle Scout well before any burgeoning of his sexual orientation came into his consciousness (gathered from his mother’s quote about the whole debacle).  I am willing to bet that, by the time he realized he is gay, he had put many years of effort into achieving his goal…that certainly would be one valid reason he would want to see the goal through to the end. 

          On another note, I question how being open about one’s being gay is tantamount to declaring that one does not agree to a policy of “duty to God.”  My understanding from every Christian organization I’ve read about is that it is same-sex sexual behavior that God frowns upon, not a homosexual orientation…and I highly doubt that the boy in question told his scoutmaster that he has engaged in any sexual acts.

          Odd, how people will twist words and make illogical interpretations to support their views in spite of evidence that their views are faulty.

    2. Of course they would. Ryan Andresen has shown himself to be a civic-minded community leader, committed to the principles of tolerance and teaching anti-bullying. Why wouldn’t they want their kids to have such a great influence in their lives?

      1. The story you linked really sums up the BSA.

        “He said the “ideals and principles” in the Scout Oath and Law are “central to the mission of teaching young people to make better choices over their lifetimes.””

        “His project, a “tolerance wall,” was inspired by the years of hazing he endured in middle school in Moraga, Calif., and later at Boy Scout summer camp, where his nicknames were “Tinkerbell” and “f****t.””

        What part of the oath and law covers mistreat your fellow human?

  2. Great to see that the Boy Scouts are teaching values such as hating people who are different from yourself.  /s

  3. What also bothers me is how much more their discriminatory behavior bothers people now that it’s become an LGBT issue, as to when they were “just” making news for their attitude towards Atheism. Drop in the water versus a tidal wave.

    Still, at least the issues are getting recognition, can’t complain about that.

    1. I got kicked out for being atheist; still, that is hardly a drop in the bucket compared to the discrimination a gay kid will face.  Seems like an okay trade.

    2. Please don’t set atheists and queers against each other in some sort of misguided attempt to make your own group look more persecuted.  It’s ridiculous and ineffective and seriously:  pointing to the gays and saying “well, now that THEY’RE the targets, someone CARES” just makes you sound like an idiot.  An idiot who probably hasn’t had to worry about his physical safety every day of his life.

      1. I thought I was fairly clear that I wasn’t complaining. I was certainly not trying to pit anyone against each other, it does sound like that’s what you’re looking for though. I read the article as “another case of boy scout discrimination” and took it as being about Boy Scouts. My bad, apparently.

        You’re most certainly correct that a gay person often faces severe discrimination, where an atheist (except for a gay atheist…) would not. I wasn’t comparing the two.

        Having defended myself, I do feel I owe you and anyone that felt that way from my comment an apology, I most certainly didn’t want to bring out those kinds of feelings or offend anyone.

    3. Yes, religious organizations discriminating on the basis of religion is  a serious problem these days.  You want to hear another sad story about discrimination?  The Young Republicans kicked me out of their club for wearing a Che tee shirt.  I told them I was being ironic!

  4. They who exclude those God made homosexual shall be excluded from eternal life for their disobedience to the teachings of Jesus, which have nothing to do with sexual orientation, and everything to do with loving God in Love’s forms of everyone, equally.

    Let no man presume decide what is sinful for another.

  5. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to redirect the misguided leadership of the BSA, I propose starting a new scouting movement, one based on the principles of the Boy Scout Oath and Law that nearly everyone agrees with — honor, duty, good citizenship, courtesy, etc. and replace the ones that virtually everyone glosses over (“obedient”?  Is this really a value that anyone can even get behind? “morally straight”?  This is the clearly problematic one here.  Even as a gay Boy Scout, I never imagined that this had anything at all to do with sexuality, so had no problem affirming it as part of my oath…)  Perhaps “integrity” could go a long ways as a replacement value…

    In any case, the entire scouting movement was basically started by one guy operating in an age where all you really had to do was publish a book and people would rally to your cause, if they identified strongly enough with it.  The Boy Scouts Handbook has been a constant part of my library my entire life and one that I still refer to and still learn things from.  Surely the citizens of this age, given our collective powers of communication and social awareness, can construct a new organization.  It should still be one that is founded on solid, bold principles and values and not watered-down into a mess of coddling, empty affirmations.  It must still be an organization that young people would be proud to join, commit to, and achieve ranks as they grow personally and as a troop.  It should also be one that affords the same opportunities for personal development to all, regardless of how “morally straight” a bunch of old, white, hetero dudes think they should be. At this point, we already have a good idea of how the parts of BSA can work — which kinds of things draw kids in and make them want to learn and improve and socialize with others who share the same level of commitment.  The structure is already there for the borrowing, we just need to write up a new charter, maybe produce a new handbook (available for download, of course!), design a new (non-militaristic) scheme for “skilling up” and improving in rank, start with communities where scouts have already expressed their disgust with BSA over their archaic policies, build up a couple local troops, and just let things roll from there.

    Oh, and needless to say, the new organization should allow for transfer of credit from the BSA for those wanting to switch over, so Ryan can finally get the “Raptor Scout” (or whatever the new designation is called) rank that he has earned!

    1. See 36 USC 309 and Wrenn v. Boy Scouts of America. BSA has exclusive use of the word “Scout” in the US, with some sort of agreement with GSUSA. It would be illegal to create a new scouting organization that uses the word “scout,” and the Boy Scouts have apparently successfully argued this in court. 

        1. I have to wonder, wouldn’t it make more sense to boycott the BSA, and instead support local organizations for adolescents that don’t insist on fixed gender roles, homophobia, nationalism, and religious belief?

          1. Yes, well, as it turns out, many people in authority, like employers and colleges give preferential treatment to BSA members. Although boycotting them seems like an excellent idea, there would still be a bit of separate-but-(un)equal going on.

      1. They are called “Guides” rather than “Scouts” in some other countries.  I wonder if that use is reserved…

        1. The girls’ organization was started as Guides by Baden-Powell’s wife. It was felt that ‘guide’ was more appropriately lady-like… and as part of that, they did more appropriate activities, too. Juliette Gordon Low (founder of GSUSA) was more inspired by scouting than guiding, as were her girls, so they changed their name to scouting. People often forget how subversive Girl Scouting was, in its own subtle way. 

  6. Quick question from a Brit…

    Are non-Christian Americans forbidden from joining the Boy Scouts?

    Pretty much everywhere else in the world the scouts are one of the most powerful ways of breaking down community and religious barriers.  Most of them have constitutions that forbid exclusion the grounds of faith, sexuality or race.
    So why is the American scout movement so backward? And isn’t it about time the rest of the world’s scouts declared they wanted nothing to do with them?

    1. The reason is America is full of the descendents of religious white trash expunged from places like the UK who want marry 13 year old girls and/or rape 13 year old boys, so we’re a good 50 years behind on most cultural evolutionary curves.

      1. Well, that’s a helpful, productive, and balanced attitude, and thanks for throwing in the bit of good old fashioned British paedo-hysterica for good measure. I’m sure our cousins overseas appreciate that attempt to put this on more familiar moral-panic grounds.

      1. Also, I find the whole “Duty to God” argument inconsistent with their list of approved faiths (presuming the religious awards parallel faiths recognized by that organization).

        You see, the Unity School of Christianity is approved. Yet, as you can see in the site linked below, the Unity School doesn’t see homosexuality as a sin (any more than heterosexuality might be a sin, anyway), ordaining and marrying people regardless of sexual orientation.

        The United Church of Christ is also very liberal in this regard, and would likely fail the “Duty to God” test as well.

        It’s difficult to accuse one of having failed their “Duty to God” if that duty is different across different denominations.

          1. It’s on it. You can worship any deity as long as you believe in a higher power,  You can even be agnostic, you just cannot be atheist.

          2.  Gay atheists are welcomed as full participating members of BSA, provided that they lie about their sexuality and lack of religious belief. BSA is one big happy closet.

        1. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!
          Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
          Cthulhu R’lyeh fhtagn!

          No no, its cool guys.  I totally believe in a god.  Can I join?

    2. I think the question isn’t why is American scouting backward, but why are the Boy Scouts specifically? Because there the other traditional scouting organizations (including the Girl Scouts) are a lot more progressive and inclusive.

      1. It’s probably rooted in the fact that many, many BSA troops are run out of churches. This doesn’t automatically make those troops religious (my troop met in a Catholic church, but there was never any religious pressure), but I’d guess that the vast majority of the BSA leadership were scouts in church-sponsored (read: meddled with) troops.

          1. More like the Mormons set out some years ago to take over the Boy Scouts. The BSA did not initially start out as a Mormon organization.

          2. “The Mormons…with the aid of the Moral Majority, the Men in Black, and direct aid of the Servants of Cthulhu will attack to control the Boy Sprouts. I have an 11-, any interference?” 

            I love that game.

          3. Yeah, the church of latter day saints is the number one supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. Second is the Catholic Church. And no, I cannot site my sources.

      2. No, it is a question of why American Scouting is backwards. Boy Scouts in other countries don’t have any rules on religious beliefs, homosexuality, even gender (I’m not sure if they are called “Boy” Scouts or just Scouts in other countries). The differentiation is necessary. 

        1. Well, the WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides) begs to differ. There are a lot of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts out there. Same roots as the Boy Scouts, different direction. And they are just as much part of scouting. The fact that the Girl Scouts (of the USA) are progressive while the Boy Scouts (of America) are decidedly not so is interesting. Generalizing that all American scouting is backwards is to imply that the Girl Scouts *don’t count* and don’t matter and that is something I must take umbrage with.

  7. As a 43 year old who still regrets never finishing my Eagle Scout requirements I respect immensely those who do, especially at such a young age, and the idea that ancient mythology based bigotry could stop such a virtuous and hardworking young man from being rewarded an honor that he has worked so diligently to obtain, would only confirm the cynical belief that the world is controlled by venal, mean spirited and small minded people.  BTW just another reason why Scouts will sadly not be in our son’s life.
    Maybe it’s time for us to create an alternative?

  8. I could say to Ryan:

    It’s not “totally devastating”, it’s an excellent but stressful life lesson that teaches you about human culture, and gives you the knowledge to go on and do better things in your life. 

  9. At least now you know that certain organizations like the Boy Scouts, the military, and the Catholic Church only allow closeted homosexuals in their ranks. Don’t worry! There are lots of other, more tolerant organizations where you can be yourself. Find one!

    1. That’s easy to say when you haven’t spent over ten years working towards their highest achievement.

      1. And it’s easy to say when (1) there were chapters of those other organizations in your area and (2) you didn’t join the Boy Scouts at a very young age when you had no idea that your sexual orientation would someday be an issue.

  10. Good thing the BSA thinks molesting children and protecting the perpetrators is a “duty to god” haha These guys and the catholic church are so made for each other :)

  11. Why does any organization force people under the age of consent to take an oath in the first place? Do they not accept the concept that education and life experience can change a person’s views and values and that’s not automatically a bad thing? It’s called “growing up”. Combined with scouting might it not make for a well rounded individual? Does the BSA demand an oath from its adult leaders that they are not pedophiles? How does a dedicated scout’s sexual orientation effect the image or history of BSA? The U.S. military got rid of DADT. Shouldn’t Boy Scouts have the same rights as adults?

  12. You can’t be a scout if you are gay or an atheist.  Homosexuality is considered immoral, which is against the scouting code, and atheists are immoral by definition since morality comes from religion (any religion will do apparently).  My son quit scouts when he was eight because he is an atheist and discovered that the official scouting position is that he is incapable of being a good person without belief in god.  My nephew just made Eagle Scout and we’ve been invited to the ceremony.  I’m trying to figure out if we should go or not.

    1. I am guessing that you would go to join in the celebration of a big event with a lot of meaning to your nephew’s.  I am guessing that you would not go to protest the policies of the BSA.  Which is more important to you?

      I imagine that this is the kind of decision that people who cannot accept gays have to consider when trying to decide to go to their lesbian daughter’s wedding.  Can they (using their own terminology) “hate the sin but love the sinner” and go to the wedding?  Or, are they so intolerant of gays that they can’t even do that?

      And, just to say, the comparison is between one type of intolerance and another, not between which intolerance is the more just and moral position.

      1. And, just to say, the comparison is between one type of intolerance and another, not between which intolerance is the more just and moral position.

        That doesn’t get you off the hook for your abhorrent and homophobic false equivalency.

        1. The fastest way to tolerance is to understand another person’s point of view from their point of view (walk a mile in their shoes).  If I can help someone who identifies with the second situation to better understand the first situation (and vice versa), then everyone benefits by not reinforcing stereotypes.

          I realize that you are intolerant of any moderate viewpoint on this topic as we discussed offline.  I am sorry but I cannot accept an extreme viewpoint on this topic, because I don’t find it productive (as we discussed as well).

          You are welcome to discuss this with me offline again as much as you want, but I would ask that my more moderate viewpoint remain in this discussion.

          1. You are welcome to discuss this with me offline again as much as you want, but I would ask that my more moderate viewpoint remain in this discussion.

            Nice try at positioning your viewpoint as moderate. Almost as nice as the homophobic false equivalency that you made. You are an apologist for homophobia.

          2. Your position on this is not even remotely moderate, and I believe I do understand the position of the other side quite well.   The only way to explain the position of homophobes on this issue is that they are either reveling in the natural primate urge to find someone to hate, preferably someone defenceless  who can’t fight back, or that they simply have no moral backbone to stand up against something they know is wrong when it’s easier just to go along with their peer group.   If you have another explanation for this, please feel free to reply with it, but be specific and concrete, and be aware that my next response won’t be nearly as civil as this one if it turns out to be a pile of ridiculous horseshit.

          3. I think you’re confusing tolerance with acceptance.  Tolerance does not require empathy, only a realization that the thoughts and actions (depending on severity) of another have not much to do with your life.  To be tolerant you must only know that others are entitled to their thoughts.

      2. I would have thought this business of trying to frame opposition to bigotry as “Intolerance” went out with D.W. Griffith.

        Okay, no, I wouldn’t.

      3. And, just to say, the comparison is between one type of intolerance and another, not between which intolerance is the more just and moral position.

        These are not morally equivalent things.  Refusing to go see someone’s big moment at a Unitarian Church might be a similar equivalent.  Unitarians are merry theist who don’t shit on people, gays included.  Refusing to go see a loved one do something big there because you don’t believe in their Jesus magic is acting a bit douchie and intolerant.  You don’t have to agree with their belief in the super natural, but they are not hurting you, so don’t be a dick.

        The moral equivalent to people who don’t want to encourage the homophobic BSA, is refusing to go to your nephew’s KKK promotion to high wizard (or whatever ass hole rank they use) just because you find their philosophy on segregation of the races morally abhorrent. 

        BSA is free to have their own beliefs, but if they are morally abhorrent (not just goofy), then there is nothing wrong with refusing to support them in any way shape or form.

    2. My nephew is about to finish his eagle scout deal and I’m a bit squicked out by it.  

      The thing that gets to me is the number of parents who have gay family members who go ahead and enroll their kids in scouting anyway. I think it is hurtful and maybe a bit like sending your kid to KKK camp.

      1. To give the BSA the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think their primary message is to hate gays and atheists. So the KKKamp comparision sort of fails there.  Some regions AFAIK have said they are down with the gay as well.

        1.  @google-9b1956a71f731854c88308094ddb5fc3:disqus :What benefit of the doubt? If a boy is gay or an atheist he’s not upholding the BSA oath and is ostracized and condemned which feels pretty much like hate. “Some religions are down with the gay as well”? Ever wonder about the connection between Fundamentalist  church goers and he KKK? Your logic leaves something to be desired.

          1.  Well, which is it? Does the BSA oath mean different things in different parts of the U.S.? This kid lives in California. Yes, a different region from, say, Missouri. That said, BSA’s oath is to a god and the org. denounces homosexuality. Not so subtle strictures, yet very important.

          2. “Well, which is it?”
            Beats me; I’ve never had anything to do with scouts. I was just pointing out that you went off on a rant that had nothing to do with the comment you were replying to.

          3.  I just wanted you to explain what you meant by the difference between region and religion. You could also be more specific as to what a rant is and how I ranted.

          4. So what happens when they have a gay scout? Can the national leadership prevent them (as opposed to hiss and spit at them) from issuing badges, etc?

          5. So, as I understand it, this article disproves the region/religion theory posted by Invictus. You’d think Michigan would be an unlikely state to accept gay scouts. I’d guess religion plays a bigger part in people’s lives in Mi. than Ca. But, no, this kid lives in freaking Silicon Valley! Kids should be free to be themselves. Oaths from children should be banned (and I’m beginning to think many, not all, oaths are unfair shackles that only enslave the people who make them). Is it surprising cults require oaths of various sorts. Maybe being forced to swear an oath to join a group in itself defines a cult.

      2. You just compared the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA to an organization that lynches people. Bravo, sir. Bravo.

        1. Well there was no fun comparing them to the Catholic Church or NAMBLA after the files were released showing they covered up molesters and pedophiles, often not informing the parents of the incidents.

          And they did earn bonus points in their claims that it was the local troops fault for not accurately checking their secret list of people banned from BSA things… which if they had just reported the abuse to the authorities and had them arrested would have taken care of itself.

          … and they do teach them how to tie knots…

          1. I still don’t see how the comparison stands. The KKK is an organization dedicated to racism and bigotry, the Boy Scouts is about teaching boys life skills. It attracts deplorable people because it is based around helping children, and the cover ups at the hands of national council are inexcusable, but condemning all scouts for these crimes is unfair.

            And you will never see the noose as a knot requirement.

          2. BSA seems to be doing a smashing job of teaching bigotry.
            The BSA rejects who they think are deplorable people, while covering up the actions of criminals.
            Active participation in the coverup of a crime.
            Expending time and resources to try and hide the documents proving those facts.
            Not bothering to inform parents their child was molested.

            The KKK aren’t everyones ideal “nice people” but at least they aren’t lying about it.

            It attracts deplorable people because they lack the moral fiber they preach about to admit bad things happened, allowing the “bad people” to keep doing it.

            Pretty sure most of my comments are directed at BSA and not the scouts, with the exception of the ones who called this scout f*g and other slurs. Because the hypocrisy of this is amazing, the ones claiming the moral high ground are so much worse than those they exclude for not being moral enough.

          3. There’s a difference between the bigotry that says “You can’t join my club” and the bigotry that says, “I’ll break into your house, take you out and hang you, and then burn your corpse”.

          4. You left off something…
            You can’t join my club, because your not good enough and we will teach people to fear you by lying about who and what you are.

            Which is sorta the same message the klan uses.

            And its not just the klan who does these things…

            A man of “god” ran an ad just before this happened…
            “”Folks, don’t be fooled, the ‘gay’ agenda isn’t about ‘equal’ rights for gay couples,” the “Homosexual Movement” clip, taken out by Clarendon Church of Christ Pastor Chris Moore, reads. “Their agenda would force everyone to compromise their values, make our children legal prey for pedophiles.””

            “…Moore has since defended the ad. “What I wrote was facts and if I wrote
            something that wasn’t factual — I would gladly fix it,” he said.”

            Funny I’m not a pedophile, do not seek to change the law to protect kids less, and as sad as it is, I’m happy at least they didn’t drag up bestiality again.

            You don’t have to hand out white bedsheets to be an intolerant bigot capable of violence, and a group allegedly devoted to teaching kids right from wrong perpetuates the myth that kids are at risk where ever gays are “allowed”. 

            They teach exclusion, they teach people to fear, they teach people to dislike people who are different.  and the other group is the klan.

  13. I earned my Eagle scout at age 16 in Salt Lake City of all places. I am an atheist.  I don’t think I ever specifically mentioned this to the troop, mostly because I didn’t think it was a big issue to me. I never went to a Church function associated with the troop, and I didn’t partake in prayers. I was rarely asked to say a prayer, and I said no when I was asked. Eventually, they just stopped asking me.

    I was in the troop from age 11 to age 17. (Scouting from age 6ish) I can only think of one or two times when I felt awkward or out of place for not being LDS, when all the other boys were. Keep in mind, 11-17 years old is when EVERYTHING is awkward.

    I’m not defending the BSA, I think their actions are abhorrent. I’m just offering my experience in scouting, which was positive.Maybe I just had an awesome scout troop.

    (Now if I was gay…my experience may have been different.)

    1. I also grew up in SLC. My brother was a scout. They not only kicked him out when he ‘came out’ as non Mormon, but the boys beat him up the next week at the bus stop. I could go on for pages of the hell that church put my family and myself through. But suffice it to say, our experience was nowhere near as nice as yours.

  14. I really don’t think people are “entitled to their opinions” if their opinions are that certain people should be denied things that other people are not.

    Equality is not an opinion, it is a fact of human existence. There is no enshrined right to pursue human inequality. You will not find such a liberty anywhere in the world.

    This kind of belief is antithetical to the principles of the United States. We do not need to tiptoe around some perceived right held by americans to ensure that other americans don’t have the same rights that they do. To do so is cowardice, not respect. They are flaunting the beliefs upon which their own nation is founded, then cowering behind them when confronted. Don’t be polite to them about it.

    It is not an “opinion” to hurt people.

      1. I’m speaking in the sense of them being legally able to choose who they do or don’t want in their private organization. I think it’s heinous and wrong. But they have a strong legal precedent for what they’re doing. I’m just trying to head off the people who like to claim that the former Eagle Scouts are trying to oppress the BSA or limit its freedom of speech or some such crap. 

  15. Stop whining… Start Doing.

    Where is his Happy Mutant award?
    What are the requirements to obtain one?
    Why haven’t the articles of inclusion been published yet?
    Where can contributions be sent?

    Bigotry and tyrant only exist so long as no alternative is offered, which is usually a function of well-intentioned people whining rather than doing the work to provide one.

    I know nobody under the age of 21 who would rather be a “Scout” than a “Mutant.”

    Boing Boing has the power to Solve this problem if it acts to do it right rather than stands on the sidelines, arms-folded, whining at those who are doing it wrong.

  16. Have they thrown out any Scouts for other un-Godly acts such as heterosexual sex outside of marriage?

    Is virginity a requirement for Eagle Scout-hood?  I’d expect so based on their morally upright positions but I’ve never heard of it being an issue.

    Actually, Jesus clearly said that even looking lustfully at a women is committing adultery. Can we presume that all Scouts have never looked lustfully at any females? Certainly an adulterer woudl not qualify as an Eagle Scout… or do they anyway?

  17. Compare with the UK Scouts message on gay/lesbian members.
    FLAGS Fellowship for Lesbians and Gays in Scouting (FLAGS)

    Their remit is to provide active support to all members, and people associated with Scouting with regards to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues and to spread the message that its ok to be Gay and be in Scouts.

    With that message we hope to recruit new adults into the movement, and also to develop members already in the movement helping them to achieve their full potential.

    We are planning to attend Gay Pride events to do this, the 1st one was London Pride on the Saturday 4th July.

  18. While I won’t deny you your point at all, I think there’s still some merit to this idea.

    If you think about it, you have to wonder what’s the greater honor: to be recognized by your leaders, or to be honored by your peers?

    In some important ways, other Scouts passing him the honor means significantly more than official recognition.

    But yes. Stupid, stupid leadership. This is why I refuse to buy Boy Scout cookies. :/

  19. I am a member of the Boy Scouts of America. I’ve worked on a Boy Scout camp staff for several years. I did not get my Eagle award, not out of any kind of protest, but mostly out of disinterest in my project and (let’s face it) sheer laziness (no regrets, though. Life for Life, bitches.) I know many Eagles, most of whom are very proud of their accomplishment (one even got a tattoo of an Eagle Medal on his shoulder.) Most of my fellow counselors and Boy Scouts agree that the policy against gays and atheist is deplorable. It’s an awful policy for many reasons, many of which you guys have talked about here and don’t bear repeating, but I think there are some that have been missed. The Boy Scouts target demographic is an age range that is going to be alright with gays and is more and more likely to be atheist. It’s difficult to recruit new members with these kinds of policies in place, and the Boy Scouts could desperately use some new members (it use to be one in four boys was a member of the BSA. I think we might get one in twenty now.) The policy also opens us up to a fair amount of public shaming. I don’t enjoy these articles. I really don’t. It must be worse for the guys who actually did get Eagle, given the choice between giving up one of the greatest accomplishment of their lives or seeming as though they are okay with the homophobic and conservative policies of the Boy Scouts of America. I wouldn’t want to make that choice. Some of you seem to think it’s an easy one, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t Eagle Scouts (or even Boy Scouts, for that matter), so you opinion doesn’t really fly far with me.

    1. “one of the greatest accomplishment of their lives”
      This might have been true once upon a time.  Not all projects are created equal.

      Think of it as a final test – is the award more important that what you think is right?
      Returning the award does not undo the hard work that was put in, and I haven’t seen people demand other scouts send their awards back in.  There is an entire spectrum of possible responses not the polar positions of approve or return the award.
      Part of my government thinks that a woman’s body can just shut down to
      stop a legitimate rapist’s sperm from getting her pregnant.
      There used to be pride in being an American, but unless I speak up people assume I support that backward idea.
      People think protesting and speaking up is totally unamerican, in a country founded on protesting unfair treatment.
      I don’t have to return my citizenship to speak up about it and make a point.

      What I find much more shameful is as these awards are being returned, BSA still thinks they are right. 
      These paragons of what it means to be a scout sending back something so important… and the BSA ignores them.

      And nope I wasn’t an Eagle scout and neither were you, but I was a scout and I know what is right and what is wrong.

      1. I don’t see anybody asking Eagles to turn in their awards, but I think that the publication of articles like these articles are creating the expectation that Eagles should do it. But to be honest, it’s the Boy Scouts of America that is creating the situation where they need to feel like that. I guess what I’m mostly trying to say is it is a shitty time to be Boy Scout. Because you’re totally right.

    2. I wouldn’t want to make that choice. Some of you seem to think it’s an easy one, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t Eagle Scouts (or even Boy Scouts, for that matter), so you opinion doesn’t really fly far with me.

      You’re dismissive of the opinions of people who face actual discrimination and violence in favor of the opinions of people who made it through a discriminatory organization? Apparently you earned your Kowtowing to Privilege Badge.

    3. What you guys should do, rather than quietly moan about it, is start shouting.  Go to the big BSA meetings and hold up signs and grab microphones.  Get kicked out.  Start your own thing.

      Or just quit.  All of you quit.  Imagine if scout troops all over the country quit.  They could still do everything they do.  They could rip the symbols of bigotry off their uniforms and still do everything else they normally do.  They could form a new coalition which would be this: “Almost identical to the BSA in every way except we don’t discriminate against atheists and gays.”

      There is absolutely nothing to stop you from stealing everything about the BSA and rebranding it as something new and exciting except the will to do it.

    4. Some of you seem to think it’s an easy one, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t Eagle Scouts (or even Boy Scouts, for that matter), so you opinion doesn’t really fly far with me.

      Since I did earn my Eagle Scout award will my opinion “fly far” you with?

      I admit that at the time I became an Eagle Scout I hadn’t given the organization’s discriminatory policies much thought. And even though it was more than two decades ago the policies were unquestionably just as discriminatory then as they are now. I just didn’t hear as much about it then.

      A few years after becoming Eagle I began to hear stories of Scouts being kicked out because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, or sexual orientation, or even perceived sexual orientation.

      I can tell you honestly–I believe in being honest, after all, even if many Scout leaders don’t–that repudiating my Eagle award and criticizing the organization that gave it to me was a very easy decision.

  20. One of the reasons I quit scouting was because of the widespread “experimenting” going on after the scoutmaster retired to his tent. Not because of the homosexuality, but because at age 12 I was pretty much freaked out by anything to do with sexuality.

    Surely I’m not the only former Scout with “creepy circle jerk” stories?

  21. Atheists and gays being kicked out of the BSA sound as silly to me as Jews getting kicked out of the KKK.

    How could getting kicked out of an organization which hates you, not because of your character but simply because of who you are, ever be a time of sadness?

    I mean, do you see liberals being kicked out of the GOP because of their beliefs? No, because what kind of fool would join an organization which opposes them and everything they believe in?

    It’s shitty that these kids have to learn this lesson this way, but it’s an important one: Adults are bastards. When you are an adult you will be denied things for stupid reasons, you will be denied things you worked hard for and believe in because someone in power doesn’t like you. The people in charge of you will screw you over time and again.

    You are not entitled to anything just because you want it and worked hard. Life is not fair.

    1. No, because what kind of fool would join an organization which opposes them and everything they believe in?

      Log Cabin Republicans? Begging for the opportunity to sniff your oppressors’ taints is fairly common behavior among the oppressed.

    2. I agree 100% with you, adults are bastards. But when adults force a high moral ground on children and then pull the rug out from underneath them, that’s not just a lesson on how life isn’t fair. That’s exploiting innocent and well meaning hearts and minds in the interest of preserving the BSA. It mirrors the abuse of the Catholic church and all dying religions and institutions where children (mostly boys, since girls don’t have much part in adult male societies) are sacrificed to a morality the hierarchy doesn’t really believe in but uses to subjugate the masses.

    3. If it were as simple as Jews trying to join the KKK and being kicked out because it’s an organization that “opposes them and everything they believe in” this would be an easy debate, but think about who joins the Boy Scouts, and when, and why.

      I became a Cub Scout at the age of seven because my parents wanted me to. I might have chosen to join if I’d known what it was about, but let me emphasize this: there was no choice on my part. After finishing four years as a Cub Scout my parents signed me up for Boy Scouts.

      I’m not blaming my parents. After all I loved being a Boy Scout and had a great time. But it’s not as though someone said to me, as an adult, or even a person old enough to understand the implications, “Here’s an organization with discriminatory views. Would you like to join?” That’s where your “liberals being kicked out of the GOP because of their beliefs” comparison fails.

      As for life not being fair, you’re correct, life isn’t fair, but that’s not an excuse for allowing the BSA to continue discriminating.

  22. One thing to do, when pondering why the BSA holds to this position, is to follow the money. The LDS church uses the Boy Scouts as their youth organization for their young men. Thus, all LDS boys are in Boy Scouts. On their site, they say that “hundreds of thousands” of young (mormon) men are enrolled in Boy Scouts (Wikipedia pegs it at ~427,000). BSA’s total youth membership is ~ 2.7 million (wikipedia). The LDS Church has said that it will withdraw from scouting if it is forced to accept openly gay scout leaders (wikipedia). That’s 15% of their income that they’d lose. Heck, it’s probably more like 20% or 25%, considering the support that the LDS Church gives the BSA. Can you imagine how scared they’d be to lose that much money?

    Now, I’m not saying that it’s right. I think they need to be Brave, as directed by the Scout Law, and get over it – there have to be a lot of people out there (myself included) who’d love to be involved in Scouts, if only they’d change on this issue (and allow atheists, but that’s another issue).

    -An eagle scout, who hopes that when he has kids, that scouting is something he’d be proud to involve his kids in.

  23. What are the chances that this kind of crap could bolster a movement to start a secular equivalent to the BSA?

    1. From what I’ve seen in my communities and in most communities I’ve seen, there are other youth organizations that provide structured activities for adolescents, including hiking and camping, science education, and craft skills. There are fewer organizations that promote nationalism and fixed gender roles with the trappings of paramilitary organization, and I would rather there were none.

  24. The BSA is first and foremost an organization that supports a specific worldview.  That worldview may cover the promotion of specific ideals including devotion to a religion, loyalty to your country and hetrosexuality.  Promoting those ideals is not the same thing as denigrating their opposite.  I refuse to support a lot of things but that doesn’t mean that by default I’m a proponent of the reverse.  I am an eagle scout and I will gladly hold onto my badge, medalion, and membership card because if the organization is ever going to change it will need the actions of dedicated leaders like eagle scouts to change it from the inside not to abandon the organization because they did something unpopular.

    I also take issue with the OP, there isn’t anything to prove that he was denied because he was gay.  There is every reason to expect he was denied because he couldn’t honestly check the box that said “I will do my duty to God.”  It has happened before, on several rather public occasions and even once in my own time in the BSA.  The quote listed there actually comes right out and says he didn’t meet the religious requirement.  If he met all of the requirements then how did an athiest achieve a “Religious Emblem of your faith” which is one of the pre-requsites?

    I would support a pastafarian addition to the BSA relgious critera, and I would support a change of leadership that worked harder to promote the ideals of fairness, integrity, tolerance and openness in their actions as well as their literature. 

    I don’t support the notion that the best way to protest this is to abandon the ideals that got you there in the first place.  You’re eagle scouts, Act like it.

    1. I am an eagle scout and I will gladly hold onto my badge, medalion, and membership card because if the organization is ever going to change it will need the actions of dedicated leaders like eagle scouts to change it from the inside not to abandon the organization because they did something unpopular.

      Exactly what steps have you taken to effect change from within and what has been the response of the national leadership to your efforts?

      Because otherwise, you’re just pretending to care while clinging to your own privilege. And as long as you’re not actively fighting homophobia within the organization, you are absolutely supporting it.

  25. “… a tolerance/anti-bullying project …”
    “… isn’t going to get to be an Eagle Scout, because he’s openly gay”

    And they say Americans don’t understand irony!

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