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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.

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M.J. Christensen, Eagle Scout, Athiest

Although I had been a Cub Scout for about a year when I was younger, my involvement in Scouting really began about one year after my parents' divorce. It was the fall of 1988 when my grandfather did the best thing he ever did for me, brought me to a School Night for Scouting. Although it would be a couple of months before my eleventh birthday, the Assistant
Scoutmaster for Troop 600 who was representing the Troop as well as the local Cub Scout Pack, decided it would be better to bend the rules and get me involved at the Boy Scout level. The first impression of many of the adults in Troop 600 was that I wouldn't last through my first weekend camping trip. They doubted I had the strength it would take to become a Boy Scout. I quickly proved them wrong. After only one night at the 1988 Gateway District Fall Fun-o-Ree, I knew I had found my home.

Over the course of the next eight years, Scouting was my life. I never joined any clubs in school, played any sports, nor did just about anything that didn 't involve the Boy Scouts. Once I took my Ordeal in 1989, I became highly involved in the Order of the Arrow as well as the Scouts. During the course of my time as a youth in Scouting, I held many positions, including Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Vice Chapter Chief, Chapter Chief, Lodge Activities Chairman, and Lodge Vice Chief of Program.

I always enjoyed the camping and organizational aspects of Scouting. During the course of an average month, I attended six to eight meetings and at least one, if not two or three weekend campouts. I went to Philmont for a short trek, as well as for two Sectional Conclaves that weren't even for our Section, and also for National Junior Leader Instructor Camp. I spent two seasons on the volunteer staff for Tahosa Challenge, our Council's COPE program, and two summers at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch on staff.

Because of my level of involvement in the day-to-day business of Chapter, Lodge, and Troop, I ended up putting off the requirements for my Eagle Scout, and was actually one of very few people in Lodge history ever to receive the Vigil Honor as a youth without having first earned their Eagle Scout. I did eventually earn the Eagle Scout Rank, completing the requirements within a week of my eighteenth birthday.

Although I did remain a registered Scouter and Assistant Scoutmaster until just after I turned twenty-one, my level of activity dropped off sharply after my nineteenth birthday. I couldn't really explain it at the time, but there was just something wrong with my being in Scouting, and I refused to admit it. The fact of the matter was that I knew deep down inside that I was gay, and I also knew that because of the organized bigotry within the organization that I loved, I could either be gay, or I could be a Scout.

It took me several years to finally come out, and one of the biggest reasons I had so much trouble was that I knew I had to give up a big part of my life in order to be who I was. Finally, when I was 25, I had lived in the closet long enough. Although it had been several years since I was an active Scout, I had recently attended the Eagle Court of Honor for our Troop's 50th Eagle Scout. I wore my uniform, even though I was no longer registered, and though I didn't tell anyone why, I knew that I
had to don the uniform one more time before I could let it go. A few months later, I came out to my mother, a matter of days before the Twin Towers fell. I began the search for an organization that I could join, one that was fighting the bigotry in the organization I love.

I think I am part of Scouting for All, fighting the Boy Scout's open bigotry because I love the Boy Scouts so much. If I didn't believe that the foundation of Scouting and the program had merit, I would just let them be. However, Scouting is such a fundamental part of who I am, and I owe the Boy Scouts more than I can ever repay. And yet, if I were to be honest about who I am, they wouldn't let me even be a "Den Mother".

A Scout is Trustworthy. I couldn't rejoin Scouting without being honest. However, a Scout is also Brave! I need to fight the BSA, precisely because I am a Scout.

As long as the Boy Scouts of America continues their policies of discrimination, I will continue to fight them. Gay teens across the country kill themselves every day because they feel out of place. Russell Henderson, one of Matthew Shepperd's murderers, was an Eagle Scout. I find it morally reprehensible that the largest youth organization in the country continues to teach bigotry to its members. How many lives could have been saved if the Boy Scouts of America lived up to their own Scout Oath and Law? I quote, from the Scout Oath "to help other people at all times" Or from the Scout Law "A Scout is Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, and Brave." Let the Boy Scouts of America practice what they preach.

I cannot live with bigotry in the organization that I love. I look forward to the day when we all will be welcomed back into Scouting with open arms. Scouting isn't about gay or straight, male or female, Christian or agnostic, it' s about love. When the Boy Scouts of America realizes this, this will be a better country to live in. When the Boy Scouts of America finally begins to live by their own Scout Oath and Law, I will be proud to sew an "Assistant Scoutmaster" patch onto a khaki shirt. I wonder if they'll let me wear rainbow shoulder loops.


M.J. Christensen
Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow

I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm an Eagle Scout.




Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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