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Eagle Scout stands up for others' rights

June 1, 2004

Terry Bibo
(tbibo@pjstar.com)


A couple of months ago, Andrew Cote was kicked out of Boy Scout Troop 352, two days after his Eagle Court of Honor. As part of that ceremony, he had said he supported the rights of people - because they are gay or atheist - who are forbidden to achieve the award he had earned. The Scoutmaster of his troop is also an official with the church that charters it, and did not feel this squared with church beliefs.

Andrew was dismissed, along with his parents and another adult leader.

A couple weeks ago, Andrew and his parents were in Chicago, where he had been invited to speak at a protest held by Scouting for All, a California-based organization that argues gays and atheists should be allowed to enter Scouting.

And just a few days ago, Andrew was awarded the American Legion Citizenship Award during graduation ceremonies at Brimfield High School.

Several years ago, principal Dennis McNamara had asked the Legion for a copy of the speech read at such ceremonies. "This is the highest honor awarded American youth by the American Legion," McNamara read. The recipient is selected by school faculty on the basis of "courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service."

Andrew plans to attend Illinois State University this fall and sign up for military service.



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