Youth Pride Day Keynote Speech

Washington, D.C.

Hi, everyone! How are you doing? Are you having fun!

I am very honored to be given the opportunity to speak at Youth Pride Day.

I always like to begin with what I believe is a very important truth!

Being GAY is normal
Being Lesbian is normal
Being transgender is normal
Being bisexual is normal


And you know something ... even being heterosexual is normal!

What is not normal and is sick is how some people and organizations like the Boy Scouts of America discriminate against people who are gay.

I am here speaking to you as an Eagle Scout. I love scouting, but I'm ashamed of the Boy Scout's of America's policy of discrimination against gay youth and adults, atheists and girls.

While I stand in front of you as an advocate of human rights, gay rights, I am doing what the Boy Scouts of America teaches its scouts to do... To respect and defend the rights of all people.

The problem is the leaders at the National office in Irving, Texas don't even follow their own teachings when they discriminate.

How can the Boy Scouts of America who is suppose to represent the very best in our society, embrace the very worse, bigotry and discrimination.

That doesn't even make sense!

The message that I want to leave with all of you today is that EVERY PERSON here is important, is of value, is special in this life.

As Martin Luther King said,

"We must not allow any force to make us feel like we
don't count. Maintain a sense of dignity and respect"

Some organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and some individuals are homophobic, sexist and bigoted.

Because of this, some may make fun of you, try and hurt you and discriminate against you.

Always remember for everyone of them there are 10 of us to embrace you and love you for the beautiful person you are.

Always remember you are not alone. Reach out to a gay or straight friend. We'll be there for you.

I am asking all gay and straight kids to stand for their rights against discrimination.

The Boy Scouts of America is one example of an organization which discriminates against gay kids and adults. Their policy teaches scouts to discriminate and hurts gay kids. Matthew Shepherd was killed by an Eagle Scout. Maybe Matthew would not have been killed if the BSA taught its scouts to respect and accept the diversity of the human family.

If you are heterosexual and wanted to be a scout, but you were told that you couldn't because you were heterosexual and that their was something wrong with you. That you were inferior. Ask yourselves. How would you feel?

Now imagine how it must be like for a gay kid to feel rejected for who they are. Just imagine how hurt they must feel. Would you want your sister or brother to experience that rejection if they were gay?

No kid should have to feel rejected because of who they have come to be.

If one person in our community is being discriminated against and hurt, then we all should feel that hurt and pain and reach out to help. Reach out even if it means those same people or organizations who are discriminating may try to hurt you or make fun of you. I have taken a stand and some kids have made fun of me and "cut" on me and some of the adult leaders of my troop and the scout council said I didn't believe in the Scout Law and Oath, that I didn't have the Spirit of an Eagle Scout, but I didn't let that stop me from standing up for what I believed in.

The Scout Motto is "BE PREPARED"

I ask all of you to "BE PREPARED" to take a stand against social injustice.

Discrimination against people who are gay, your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, is a violation of human rights. We must not turn our backs on them. BE PREPARED.

I'm asking each of you gay and straight to stand together.

Lets advocate for a gay straight alliance in every high school in America.

You can contact an organization of GLSEN called Student Pride USA. Student Pride is made up of young people helping young people start gay straight alliances. Check them out. I did. They have been very helpful to me in forming a gay straight alliance at my high school. We will be having our first meeting in a few weeks. My sister and some friends put up flyers. A few of them were taken down, that just told me why we need a gay straight alliance at my school.

You can also take a stand by not doing drugs because drugs just keeps you from becoming the beautiful person you are. I know it is painful to be made fun of. The best way to ease that pain is not by taking drugs but to reach out to a friend.

You can take a stand by reaching out to a kid at school who is being made fun of. When I see a kid being made fun of at my school I try to help that kid even if it means that I may be made fun of. It doesn't feel good to be "cut" but it does feel good to help someone out.

You can first take a stand by not buying into those negative messages you may receive from those individuals and organizations who are bigoted and ignorant and instead love yourself for the beautiful person you are.

Remember you can make a difference. Let's reach out to one another, both gay and straight to help make this earth a better place. Then maybe the Boy Scouts of America will someday come to see how they hurt us, both straight and gay by their policy of discrimination. And maybe someday the Boy Scouts of America will learn to honor and cherish the diversity of the human family. We can teach them.

Please check out the Scouting For All web page and sign up to become a member and volunteer. Please sign my petition.

I now ask all for a moment of silence:

1. for all those gay youth who have taken their lives because they felt like they didn't belong

2. for all those boy scouts who were kicked out because they were gay, atheists or transgendered

3. For all those gay scouts and gay adult leaders and atheists who have to hide who they are or what they believe out of fear of being kicked out

4. And silence for the Boy Scouts of America that they will someday learn to love and cherish the diversity of the human family.

Thanks everyone!!

Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout