Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor
From Fox News:
Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.
Scouting for All is a 100% Volunteer 501-(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. Every dollar donated goes toward our education and advocacy programs, and is tax deductible.
KIRK THOMAS, Eagle Scout
I am a Scout, a spiritual person, and a proud and confident gay man. I was an active Boy Scout from age 12
to age 18. I earned and was awarded my Eagle badge as well as the God & Country medal, and I was inducted
into the Order of the Arrow (whose admonition means, as I remember, "Love One Another"). I enjoyed hiking
and camping in the Colorado Rockies both summer and winter, and in summer attending the Denver Area Council's Camp
Tahosa. My troop organized and completed a 10-day canoe trip in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness.
Later, I reorganized and led an active Explorer Post. I went on from Scouting to participate in adventure mountaineering
with the Colorado Outward Bound School. I have become a life-long advocate of wilderness backpacking, conservation,
and Native American lore. Later, I received a master's graduate degree from the Harvard Divinity School, and I
attend the United Church of Christ (Congregational). Currently, I work in a non-profit law firm. I am happiest
when backpacking in the high country on a remote mountain trail.
I am proud of my Scouting achievements, even as I grieve for the intolerance of the BSA of late. I am also
proud of my gay identity. I have contributed thousands of volunteer hours in the gay communities of Boston and
San Francisco. I participated in Pride Parades, athletic clubs, speakers bureaus, church groups, and other gay
organizations and activities. Beginning in 1983, I was a volunteer AIDS activist, focusing on AIDS education and
prevention strategies. I facilitated small peer group support meetings for the STOP AIDS Project, conducted weekend
STOP AIDS training seminars in a dozen U.S. cities, and aided the CDC in planning several regional AIDS prevention
conferences. I facilitated peer support groups for the Shanti Project, the AIDS Health Project, and the Kairos
Project in San Francisco, serving HIV negative and positive men, persons coping with grief and loss, and caregivers.
Although I have remained uninfected throughout the AIDS epidemic, I was an emotional support buddy for Shanti
clients as well as a close friend and caregiver to numerous HIV positive men and PLWA's (Persons Living With AIDS).
I loved being a Boy Scout for the same reasons as other boys, for achievement, adventure and companionship.
Sexuality did not play much part in my Scouting experience as I had no sexual experiences as a Scout (although
I am not sure about my "straight" peers). I was just beginning to recognize my gay identity in those
years, a struggle which took place, sadly, in shame and lonely secrecy. I wish I had known an acknowledged gay
man who could have been a role model for me of a respected adult. This was not possible when I was a teenager.
Fortunately it is possible now. I wish my young Scout peers also would have known an acknowledged gay boy or
leader, because they would have learned how gay persons can be respected for their contributions, and not judged
by social prejudices and stereotypes. This was not possible when I was a teenager. Fortunately it is possible
now. The Boy Scouts did help me to develop my young character, instilling in me an enduring love of outdoor lore,
but also a respect for integrity and ethical ideals. These same ideals ultimately were helpful to me in becoming
a self-accepting and well-adjusted gay man. Like me, other adolescent gay boys need the guidance and comradery
offered by Scouting.
The young adult leader who worked closely with me to reorganize and operate our Explorer Post probably was
a gay man. However, like most responsible adults, he never broached the subject of sex, never molested or approached
me sexually in any way. My parents liked him a lot; Fred was a fun person, dedicated to the Scouting movement,
and helpful to me and many other boys as an adult leader and friend. There are many "Freds" in Scouting
right now who suffer under the threat of expulsion if their identities were known. And also there are many gay
men like myself, who would enjoy mentoring young men in the values of Scouting and initiating them in the skills
of outdoorsmanship, and who would contribute greatly to Scouting if allowed to do so.
WHAT I BELIEVE
I represent many, many other men just like me, tens of thousands of gay men in America with similar Scouting
backgrounds, credentials, and achievements. As conscientious and ethical citizens, and as Boy Scouts who have proudly
demonstrated the ideals of Scouting by achieving its highest honors, our voices deserve to be heard and respected.
Scouting does not just belong to certain sponsoring institutions, nor is it the exclusive domain of certain
paid Scouting executives; Scouting belongs to all the men and boys who participate and have participated in it,
both today and in the past. Scouting belongs to me, a gay man and Eagle Scout, as much as to anyone else, and
there are many, many other gay men and boys who feel the same.
Many of us gay Scouts from across the this land will continue to speak out against this injustice within Scouting
until it ceases, and when it does, not only will we be better off for it, but the Boy Scouts of America will be
better too, healed of hypocrisy and standing firm in the ideals it professes.
Scouting For All is important to all Scouts. May it expand and strengthen; may it remind and confront; until
such time as the Boy Scouts of America and Scouting For All become, finally and correctly, one and the same.