Healing The Hurt (Testimonials)
Testimonials From Those Hurt By The Boy Scouts of America's Policy of Discrimination
Submit Your Own Testimonial
Many of you have written Scouting For All to share with us your personal story of the "Hurt" you experienced
from the Boy Scouts of America's harmful and disgraceful policy of discrimination. Some of you who are the loved
ones of those who have been directly affected also have shared your pain over what you later found your son or
friend went through as a result of the BSA's policy. All those stories we received, were very moving human experiences
that have actually inspired Scouting For All as an organization to continue with its efforts to help get the Boy
Scouts of America to rescind its policy of discrimination against gay youth and adults.
Scouting For All wants you to know that you are not alone. It is through sharing our stories that we gain strength
to go on, confidence to assert who we are, and the knowledge that others share our pain and understand how we feel.
Healing begins with sharing. Healing the Hurt is a forum created as a safe place where people can share their stories
and begin that process of healing or to continue the process already begun. It is not intended as a discussion
area and is not open for debate. It is simply a haven, if you will, where we can come together in mutual concern
and respect for one another.
Scouting For All looks forward to hearing from you.
Note: We will not disclose those letters received prior to the start of this new Healing the Hurt section. If you
have already sent us your story and you wish to be included, please send us your story again. This will ensure
your inclusion into this forum. You may elect to remain anonymous by signing your letter "anonymous."
We retain the right to select which stories to post on the Scouting For All web page. Please submit your letters
Soldier Returning From Iraq Writes
I'm a Scout and I'm Gay - October 1, 2007
My Story and the Boy Scouts of America - September 26, 2007
Boy Scouts of America Discriminated Against a Mexican American 12 Year Old:
Here Is His Story - August 4, 2007 Gay Man comes Out and Wants to Help Scouting for All< Atheist Eagle Scout Say Discrimination By The Boy Scouts of America Is Simply Wrong
|Testimonial from A Scouting Brother in Exile
November 11, 2005
Like most Mormon boys, I joined scouting at the age of 8 and was involved until last year, shortly after I turned
24. In that time I earned my Eagle Scout award and worked for seven years at two our council's camps doing everything
from being a CIT to spending two years as program director for a brand new camp. Scouting gave me the confidence
and strength that I needed at the most difficult times in my life. To this day I firmly believe that Scouting saved
my life and made me the person I am proud to be today. I loved scouting and particularly the camps so much that
I spent literally half of my time there during the school year volunteering in addition to my entire summers for
three and a half years. My dearest friends and fondest memories are the ones I gained through
Scouting and I can't say that regret a minute of the time I spent supporting the organization as a youth or an
Sadly, my time in Scouting ended sooner than I would have liked. Shortly after my last term as Program Director
in the summer of 2004 I began to come out to many of my friends and family. I continued my involvement in scouting
for a time anyway and even earned my Vigil Honor in the O.A. that same fall. Soon however I became aware that several
of the council executives had begun to hear rumors about me. In December I was informed by my best friend that
the Charter Org. Representative of our Venturing Crew (my only registration in Scouting for many years), would
not be renewing my membership. I was very hurt not only that my memberships was essentially being revoked, but
also that the Charter Rep. who I considered to be a friend and ally, did not have the courage to tell me himself.
I understand the situation he would have been had he allowed me to stay, but this could not stop the sadness and
bitterness from filling my heart.
After years of service, giving all that I could to support scouting, I am no longer welcome among them. I can't
attend the many events that I used look forward to staffing every year. I can't spend a week of my limited vacation
time as a volunteer commissioner at the camp, or help them on the weekends as I gladly would have done. Worst of
all, though my friends have stayed friends, I can no longer associate with them in the brotherhood of scouting
as I once. Even in the Staff alumni organization which I co-founded, I cannot be welcomed.
I expected nothing in return for my service to Scouting except the joy of helping others and the fun that inevitably
accompanies it. Now, because I refuse to hide my sexuality I will be denied even this. I was once touted as a "great
role model" by many in the Scouting community and I always did my best to be one. Now scouting has declared
that I, as gay person "cannot be a role model." How my sexual orientation effects my ability as a leader
or a role model I am not sure. I will admit however, that my being true to myself, despite popular opinion and
known consequences, does touch on one important point of the Scout Law "A Scout is Brave."
I look forward to the day when I can once again lend my hand to the organization that gave me so much.
Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout Responds To: I'm A Gay Scout And Have To Hide
Who I Am
October 7, 2005
Hey Steven. My name is Bruce ( ) and I am a young gay scout leader from ( ), NH I am gay but not out in my troop.
I have been a scout for the last ten years and earned my Eagle award. I love working with the younger guys and
run a Venture patrol in my troop. The problem is that I'm sick of hiding who I am. I don't think the scoutmaster
will mind as he is really liberal and cool. However, I'm not sure about all the other parents. I recently just
learned about your story and was very inspired by it. I was wondering if you have any advice for me as to what
I should do. Any thoughts you have I would really appreciate. I know your busy, but please write back at ( ). Have
a great day
Your friend in scouting
This is Steven getting back to you. Its quite early here have a bit of Jet leg from my return trip from Europe.
The situation you are in is very tough and I totally feel your pain in this case. Stories like the one you have
is what inspires me and others on the Scouting for All team to work harder to make healing change in the Boy Scouts
of America. It is a real shame that you have to feel afraid to be who you are as a person just because of ignorance
and bigotry. This needs to stop and it will soon as time goes on.
A few suggestions for you. Okay you know the situation better than I do and it is good that the scout master is
liberal or at least seems that way. Mine weren't ha ha. :) They kicked my dad out and made it difficult for me to
get my Eagle. They told me i didn't have the Eagle Spirit. What I would do if I was you - I would first make sure
I was strong enough to take the reactions of the others if they might be negative towards you. Hey man you never
know the younger kids in the troop that you lead a couple of them are probably gay and you have led by example
how great and normal gay people are. If you were to come out and open the minds of the people around you to diversity
I think it could be a very beautiful and educational experience for everyone in the troop and the parents outside.
But let me tell you it is a very big risk and if one of the parents is crazy and homo phobic and reports you to
the head office at your scout Council or to BSA national in Texas, you would be kicked out. If this happens we
Well I hope this helps you a bit. I am seeing the computer in 4 right now being so tired ha ha but its the best
I can do. Let me know how things go and keep in touch okay.
Thanks and good luck,
Steven Cozza, Eagle Scout
Vice President of Scouting for All
|A Testimonial Thank You S4A
May 3, 2005
My name is Nick, I'm a 19 year old Assistant Scoutmaster, and have been in scouting for about 12 years. I have a
question for a paper i am writing in my College English Class. My question was in exactly what year was S4A founded?
(answer: S4A was inspired by Steven Cozza through his stand against the BSA in December 1997 as a 12 year old Life
scout. In the Spring of 1998 we became S4A) And i would also like to express a few comments i have, I for one believe
whole heartedly with scouting being "open to all boys" and even girls, and should not discriminate against
gay youth and leaders. I for one agree 100% that if the youth are around homo phobic leaders that is what they are
going to turn out, they should be taught to respect every body's personal beliefs and not just look at a person
based on their orientation. As a "in the closet" gay adult leader, i don't go around proclaiming I'm gay,
my scouts look to me as the only original troop member left since it was re-activated, one with just as much knowledge
Thanks again for all you are doing,
Assistant Scoutmaster Troop XXX
Crew Chief Crew XXX
Order of the Arrow
|A Letter to Steven
May 2, 2005
I saw your documentary for the first time tonight. First of all, you are perhaps the most courageous person I have
ever heard about. I would pray that my children would have the honor and integrity that you have. I will do
all I can to support your organization.
I had the honor of knowing Matt Shepard, the young man who was killed for being gay. So I know first hand what
hatred can do. I only hope that young gay men in the scouts read your story and find strength.
Scouting for All Supporter :-)
|Person Beat up for Being Gay
May 2, 2005
To Whom It Concerns:
I have just joined with Scouting For All. And my name is Harrison. I just wanted to ask if I may be able to obtain
more then 20 Signatures for Steven's Petition as I am getting my family in other states as well to obtain signatures
to help you all out.
If I may be also to receive some Pamphlets to hand out while I am obtaining Signatures if you could send some if
that is okay, if not I understand, but I am more then happy to buy, and or pay the handling, as I want to help.
As I come from a very bad area, I am gay myself, and I am very much HAPPY about that fact, and I am who I am. I
stood up for people and people stood up for me, but one day, it was bad, and I don't want to sound like I'm rambling
but I got beaten up, kick and had two broken ribs, and jaw bones. That was in 2002. I had in the beginning of 2004
of May I had gotten shot at, and it hit me right in my left shoulder, and to this day, I am terrified to go out
and meet the people let alone I work in the public eye and I LOVE all GAYS, LESBIANS, and TRANSGENDER. So that
is why I decided to join and I want to help the COMMUNITY by trying to let other gays, and bisexuals and lesbians,
know that is okay to be yourself, and not to hide.
As what I have stated above, I think you for your time and attention to this. And as hard as it was to write to
you and who ever is reading this, I think you for taking the time to do so, and I thank you all for being who you
are and helping others.
If this is to much to ask, as I know he probably will not do this, but if I could talk to Steven just for five
(5) minutes that would be great, knowingly I can share information with him, and also, his Dad.
Well, thank you for reading and sorry that it was so long, but thank you.
Harrison, State of PA
Steven (and Scott),
I just got done watching the documentary about Scouting for All on my local PBS station. It was about the 3rd or
4th time that I watched it, but this time I was compelled to right to you and thank you so much for your efforts.
You are an inspiration to keep trying.
When I came out in 1990 at the age of 19, there were virtually no people or organizations out there to support
gay and lesbian youth. I can't count the number of times that I tried to kill myself, drown my fear and shame with
alcohol or numb the pain with drugs. Fortunately, I found the strength from God somehow and came out to my college
campus. That experience taught me first hand just how difficult it was to be an advocate for change. As an openly
gay student on a conservative Catholic University in central Minnesota, there were many times that I felt like
I couldn't go on.
This year is my 10 year college reunion. It has been a year filled with renewing old friendships. Each time I meet
someone I went to school with, they inevitably say to me "thank you" for helping them understand the
wonderful gift of diversity. I know that your fight is still fairly new, but I want to reaffirm to you that in
10, 15, 20 years, you will look back to this experience and see it as one of the most enriching experiences of
During my fight for rights and equality in college, I was acting on my own selfish need for acceptance. Only now
do I realize the true impact in the hundreds or perhaps thousands of lives I impacted. If you don't see it now,
I am sure that one day you will see the impact of the actions of one person.
As I watched the documentary, my overwhelming thought was "Where was Steven when I was in school? He is exactly
the type of person that I would have wanted as a friend."
I don't know how many times I have heard the phrase "a child is a reflection of their parents." What
a reflection you have. You must be one of the most amazing fathers the world has known. I'm sure you know by now
what a wonderful child your son is. A letter like this would be incomplete without also thanking you for raising
a strong and brave leader.
Thank you both,
|May 20, 2003
Eagle Scout Speaks Out
After spending the day with a gay scout, close friend, and fellow Scout Camp Staff Member, I decided to search
online for an organization such as this one. I am very relieved to see a scout putting so much on the line for
what he believes.
I am a heterosexual, white male. The "right" kind of scout, and my entire life as a scout, I was very
godly. But, now I do not believe in God. Am I a bad scout now. I feel for the Scout in Seattle who lost his Eagle
Award for not being religious.
I have been on my council's camp staff for 6 years now, am an Eagle Scout, and have personally effected many scouts
throughout the years. And, I just wanted to write and say that I support you in your efforts, and I think that
this Organization and more just like it are needed in this country. Good Luck.
Gregory , Eagle Scout
|Thank You Steven For Your Effort Against Social Injustice
I hope you will please pass this message on to Steven Cozza for me. I'm sure you receive tons of email for him
so I don't expect a personal reply, but he deserves the chance to hear what he and his efforts mean to countless
people like me. I hope he'll at least have time to read this.
I recently learned about you and Scouting For All, and your efforts to eliminate discrimination in the Boy Scouts
against gays and also against people of varying religious beliefs. I don't do a lot of letter-writing to people
I've never met, but I had to make an exception in your case.
I was a Boy Scout from age 11 to age 18, and those were some of the best times of my life. I didn't even start
to figure out that I was gay until about age 15, and didn't really feel OK with it until a couple years later.
A couple of my friends from Scouts knew, but it was never an issue for me in the Scouts because I wasn't out to
anyone else and
those friends never told anyone.
I can barely imagine what I would have felt like if I had been expelled from the Scouts for being gay. My mother
had just found out when I was in Scouts and was handling it BADLY, and my father still doesn't know to this day
(and I'm 34 now). Most of my family does know, but I can't tell my father because he grew up in a very homo phobic
and prejudiced family and environment and he would handle it worse than my mom did. It probably would have torn
my family apart if I had been expelled from the Boy Scouts because of it, and if he had found out that way. He's
good man and loves me very much, but his deep-rooted attitudes and prejudices would have been a major problem,
to say the least.
Steven, I actually AM gay, I am one of the people these bible-waving dinosaurs running the Boy Scouts reject and
frown upon, yet I don't think I would have had the strength or courage to stand up and fight for my rights if I
had been expelled from Scouts for being gay, especially with the mess I would have had to deal with at home when
found out about it. Yet you do fight for my rights and the rights of countless other gay kids and adults, not to
mention the rights of people whose religious beliefs (or lack thereof) don't happen to coincide with the medieval
beliefs of these ... Well I won't call them what I really want to; I think you know what I mean.
My point is, you saw injustice at a very young age, you took a stand, you risked embarrassment and ridicule and
even personal harm, and you've been doing it nonstop ever since!! You might not even realize how incredibly unusual
that is. Very few adults would do what you've done to fight injustice, let alone kids. I had to try to write to
you and tell you that you are a true hero and you deserve to be honored and appreciated and respected. I would
be willing to bet you don't think of yourself as a hero; real heroes never do. :) It's clear that you don't do
this to get praise; you do it because you believe it's the right thing to do.
So please let me just say that you are a great inspiration, and you have my undying respect, admiration, and gratitude.
I wish you the very best, and I hope I get the chance to shake your hand someday and thank you in person.
Thank you Steven. Happy holidays!
PS: No, I'm not THE Jeff Beck the guitar player, in case you were wondering, though I am a musician (keyboard player)
and singer. I can't play guitar very well, but I like to think I'm better looking than him, and a better singer
too. hehe. :)
|December 29, 2002
Eagle Scout Says BSA - Communist Regime Of Scouting?
First of all let me start by saying, I am a heterosexual, white male. This is apparently the only type of person
that is acceptable and correct now, according to the BSA. I am merely a person, just as the others are. I am me,
you are you, there is no "correct" way. Everyone is different; I personally don't feel that your sexual
orientation or religious belief should affect your eligibility for Scouting. I know people that are Gay and Lesbian,
as well as atheistic, they are no less of a Human Being than I am. Some of them are the most caring, loving people
I know, while some don't care about anyone but themselves (just as the stereotype does). They are no different
than anyone else, every walk of life on this planet has its good and its bad. No one is perfect, and now the BSA
claims to be without sin, so they are casting stones.
As an Eagle Scout myself, I am thoroughly appalled at the way Scouting is being handled. Has it now turned into
the Communist Regime Of Scouting, The motto now "Believe as we do, or you will be chastised", Slogan
should be "If you are different, you are wrong". I am disgraced to hold the rank of Eagle now because
of all the people being removed.
How can this be an organization to promote leadership if we step on those who don't blindly follow the mold. How
can this be considered a great organization if it's now becoming sexist, racist, fascist, now anti-homosexual.
Also, with the ones being kicked off for not proclaiming the Christian God as their savior, we are no better than
the Old Roman Catholic Church "A Do as we say, or die" belief. What is to be done with people who are
not Christian, what about Non-Christian Cultures... Are they now banned from scouting because they do not believe
in God, does that make them bad people? NO IT DOES NOT. How many Preachers, Fathers, Pastors and Priests have been
convicted THIS YEAR, of molestation, rape, and other acts unbecoming a supposed Holy Man. So now, because you are
not a White, Heterosexual Male, that believes in God you are to be banned from Scouting.... Hmm... this sounds
like a former East Europe Country to me..
Also, with the BSA an international entity now, how can they say what's right and wrong. How dare they expel someone
from Scouting for their sexual orientation or religion. Those Scouts worked just as hard to EARN their place, as
did the others. An Eagle Scout is an Eagle Scout... PERIOD!!!
In my Troop we had several Non-Christian Scouts, they had other gods, some had no god. We were taught to respect
their individuality, and not to judge them for it. If they did not want to say God in the closing ceremony, then
they could say their god's name, or refrain from it completely.
All Scouts Suffer from the disrespect that the National Council is showing now. I challenge you National Council,
I dare the first one of you "Who is without sin" to cast the stones upon those whom you think are evil.
Your Christian Bible and beliefs state to not judge others, that God will make his/her decision in Heaven... Or
do you not believe
your own laws and morals.. Just something to think about, since you now believe you have become God himself. Or
will you now try to revoke my Eagle Rank because I disagree with you.... how childish of you!
From the BSA Main Site: http://www.scouting.org/nav/enter.jsp?s=by
"Specifically, the BSA endeavors to develop American citizens who are ......have a keen respect for the basic
rights of all people"
Now we can't even live by our own statements. I feel sorry for the Scouting Movement, Baden Powell would be ashamed
of us all now.
Randy S Woolley
|"Seattle Scouts Make Wrong Decision"
My dad showed me this press release your dad sent him about Darrell Lambert and it made my blood boil. I guess
the Scouts in Seattle cant be good citizens unless they believe in God. I think that is totally wrong and equally
wrong to kick this Eagle Scout out of scouting because he doesn't believe in God.
I believe in God and I am Roman Catholic as are you. God plays an important part of my life but that does not make
me special or a good citizen. I am a good citizen and would be even if I didn't believe in God. Dad made sure of
that. I think he has the right to believe in God or not to. That is not going to change who he is. If he became
a devil worshiper or something then that's different. The press release only described a young man who is a model
citizen not just a "good" citizen and a good role model for younger kids to follow. I would not use my
religion to tell him he is wrong and try to make him change his mind. I don't think he goes around telling kids
that believing in God is wrong.
That would be wrong for him to do. I heard someone say that like it or not Atheism is a religion in kind of a strange
way I guess. So they should get off his case and let him be.
From all the stuff he did as an Eagle Scout that was mentioned in the press release it seems to me that this is
the kind of kid the Scouts would want. Look at some of the gangsters who go to church every Sunday then murder
someone on Monday. They believe in God but aren't good citizens. This isn't fair to Darrell and to the future of
Just think of all the Cubs and younger Scouts who wont have this "IDEAL" citizen to look up to and learn
from if he is kicked out of Scouting. I personally look up to kids like Darrell and I try to model myself after
Alto has to do with the way he was raised to. His dad must have taken the time to give him a good set of values
and taught him right from wrong and how to help others. I know my dad did with me. If I did anything that was not
to his liking I got spanked real good then told why I got spanked and what I could do to prevent another one. I
real fast. I got 3 brothers and we all get spanked but we are all good citizens so I guess it works for us. Did
you dad ever spank you when you were bad. You are a good citizen, too, so I know he gave you a good set of values
and the desire to help others. I wonder how Mr. Lambert raised Darrell. Whatever he did worked.
I wonder if other Scouts feel the same way. Do they believe that you MUST believe in God in order to be a "good"
Scout or is it enough just to be a good person and model citizen. I also wonder how many Scouts understand why
parents do things like spanking to make sure that their kids grow up with a good value system and become productive
and model citizens. Any Scout is welcome to email me with their thought if they wish. I will answer them.
I hope school is going well for you and you will have time to answer my letter.
Take care, Steven
|June 24, 2002
My name is Oscar and I'm 16 years old. After watching the PBS special last night i felt emotionally moved. I am neither
a boy scout member or homosexual. I stayed up until midnight watching the special. Id like to thank you for allowing
me to see your life and the stuff you had to go through. When they showed the part where you received the threatening
phone call i was also scared, I don't know why. Probably because a life that did so much at such a young age was
going to be lost. When you went to go march holding up your signs i felt like i was right there behind you marching.
After watching the special i felt a sense of relief that there is at lest one more teenager in the world not resorting
to violence. Never stop what your doing because if you made one person care just by watching you from home (not
trying to sound freaky) imagine the other people that watched last night. I'd like you to send a reply but if you
cant i can kind of understand with all the emails your getting.
|As A Current Atheist Scout I Have To Hide Who I Am
I would like to take this opportunity to express how I feel about being an atheist in the Boy Scouts. First of
all, I am an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, as well as a former Lodge Chief in the Order of
the Arrow (which lodge I'm not saying). I also attended the 1997 National Jamboree, Philmont, and even Sea Base
and Northern Tier a couple of times. When I first joined scouting I didn't truly realize that they discriminated
against anybody. I mean, I'm 11 years old at the time, what do I know about the program? To be honest, it never
even really hit me that atheists weren't even allowed in scouts. During the Supreme Court trial in the summer of
2000, I was naive enough to not even realize that by giving the Boy Scouts the legal right to exclude gays would
make it five times easier for them to exclude atheists. During the trial, I was saying to myself that "yes,
a private organization has a 'right' to make its own membership requirements," and "whether or not they
exclude gay scout leaders doesn't matter because it doesn't really involve me." Boy, was I an idiot. I guess
by that time I was already out of the program anyway, but still...it doesn't make it right. Probably the only positive
thing in my entire testimonial would be that I'm very confident that the BSA's policy will change within my life
time. But, as long as conservative wackos make up the national committee right in the heart of Texas, my guess
is the policy won't change for a very long time. Maybe they should move the national headquarters to Miami...
Jon Doe II
I Am Saddened By The Path Of Discrimination Scouting Has Taken
I started Boy Scouts at some point when I was younger, I really forget when, it was long ago. I was in a scout
group in New Mexico for about 2 or 3 years. I can remember many great memories from it. I remember they archery
practice, the summer camps, the activities, but most of all the togetherness. I didn't know then that I was gay,
I didn't even know what 'gay' and 'homosexual' meant. But now at 17, long out of Scouting, having been exposed
to the prejudice and the discrimination I cringe to think that everything I learned in Scouting doesn't seem to
matter to the BS of A. Scouting taught me about how to get along with everybody, how to be respectful and how to
treat others as I wanted to be treated. I just do not understand why the BS of A is being so discriminatory, and
being a former scout, I am hurt, and I certainly would not have my children in a group that t! tolerates that kind
of exclusion. I really do hope that the BS of A will change their policy and realize that what they're doing is wrong,
and goes against what they claim to be teaching. A lot of thanks and respect certainly to all those organizations
working for equality in scouting! Thank you,
A Person Who Is Transsexual Male to Female Shares Her Story As A Boy Scout
I started Cub Scouts when I was in lst grade and stayed through Boy Scouts and achieved lst Class before finally
leaving Boy Scout Troop 232 in Metairie, LA. A few years later I was involved with an Explorer Post started by
a high school friend and Eagle Scout. My short time of involvement with the Explorer Scouts was enjoyable, but
cut tragically short when my friend, and the leader of the Explorer Post, was hit by a drunk driver and left in
From puberty onwards my time in the BSA was pure hell. As a boy I was very feminine to the point that I was called
a "fag" or a "queer" every day in high school. This continued at my Scout Troop. Many nights
before or after meetings I was beaten by other boys. The boys in the troop didn't care that I dated girls, all
they knew was that I was very feminine and I must be gay because of that. My heart goes out to any Scout who isn't
sufficiently masculine for his peers, whether he is straight or gay, because I know first hand the cruelty which
exists within the Scouts because of their intolerant attitude towards gay Scouts. The policy needs to change for
the straight boys as much as it does for the gay boys.
I learned many valuable lessons during my years of involvement with the BSA. Today I am a respected professional
in my career field, the father of a delightful boy who is now active in his local Cub Scout Pack, and I continue
to support the ideals contained in the Boy Scout Oath. However, despite my years of experience with Scouting, my
position of respect in my community, and my dedication to the Scouting ideals, I am now unwelcome by the BSA. Half
a dozen years or so ago I decided to stop living a different lie than the gay former Boy Scouts.
These days I am a woman, and a lesbian at that. I still camp as often as possible -- some things never change,
I guess -- although today I camp with more former Girl Scouts than former Boy Scouts. I still live by the motto
"Be Prepared" and I still keep the Boy Scout Oath close to my heart.
I beg the BSA national leadership to change their policy. The abuse I experienced as a Boy Scout was avoidable,
as is the abuse suffered by any boy who doesn't fit in. All boys deserve a chance to enjoy everything that Scouting
has to offer.
Julie, 1st Class Scout Somewhere in the USA
I'm Ashamed of the Boy Scout's of America
I was a scout until January 2001, when I decided to resign because I could not live a lie any longer. I had been
considering quitting since 28 June. Everyone advised me against quitting, because I needed on Personal Fitness
Merit Badge for my Eagle. However, I decided that the truth was more important -- especially since the Eagle rank
lost much of its value in my eyes after the Supreme Court decision.
I greatly miss Scouting -- I went to the 1997 National Jamboree, went camping every month (the part I miss the
most) worked my way up through APL, PL, ASPL, until I was finally leading the troop. But what kind of leader would
I be if I couldn't be honest with the people I was leading? For that matter, did I really want to be a leader in
such an openly discriminatory organization?
I recently read the article in The Advocate about Scouting For All and wanted to say that we need more straight
allies like Steven Cozza.
Life Scout, Ret.
The BSA and My Church Threw Me Out: I'm Gay
I just recently read the article in the "May 22, 01" issue, and i have to give you a lot of credit for
everything that you have done for the organization. I was also at one time a Boy Scout in the Connecticut Rivers
Council through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Well once they found out that i was "gay" the threw me out of the troop and ex-communicated me from my
church. So, everything that you're doing are things that I wish i had the guts to do back then.
You keep up the good work and take care.
Tate in CT
I wanted to thank you for what you've done in Scouting For All and standing up for the rights of everyone to be
involved in scouting. I'm an Eagle Scout and I'm straight. When I was a teenager I was one of those people that
said hurtful things about gays. I didn't even think of them as hurtful. I hadn't considered the idea that some
of the people around me might be gay and might be hurt by what I was saying. I'm not a closed minded person and
I wasn't then either. I just lacked life experience and grew up in an atmosphere where gays and lesbians were hated
and feared (mostly feared). I wish there had been someone around like you that had challenged my ignorance. It
would have made a big difference to me.
Thanks for standing up for what you believe, even when it's difficult. Your efforts are important to everyone,
gay and straight alike.
Palo Alto, CA
I am an Eagle Scout, not only in rank, but also in heart. I was torn to hear about the decision that the BSA made
to ban gays in their, and mine, organization. I have done training on a local, district, and state level for nine
years now, both as a youth and as an adult. I have always been taught to create a safe haven, where people can
be themselves and not worry about harsh words or actions. This 'safe haven' is a BSA idea that was published in
a leadership guide. I cannot imagine being able to create a safe haven while discriminating against anyone. Furthermore,
the ideals that scouting gives the youth of America go directly against the court decision. I was taught to understand,
respect, and embrace differences with my scouting brethren. I am most defiantly not ashamed of being an Eagle Scout,
however, now when I walk the college campus I hear only controversy coupled with the Boy Scouts rather than good
deeds and high morals. Scouting has changed forever in the wrong direction.
|A Letter from a Friend Who Feels the Pain Caused by the Boy Scouts of America
Thank you for e-mailing me back.
In a world full of hatred and doubt, every once in a while someone comes along and brightens the world with their
presence. Steve is one of those people. You are truly blessed to have a son with such class, dignity and a "REAL"
Christian heart and soul! And God bless YOU for being such a great father to him and supporting him in this cause.
You've got a supporter in
me all the way.
When I was a WEBELOS, I was very nervous around all the other macho young teenagers, because they used the words
"fag" "queer" fairy and other derogatory terms; not at me, but other scouts. I hated it! What
should have been some of the best years of my life, turned into negativity.
That was over 25 years ago and to this day, I only wonder what I could have accomplished as an Eagle Scout. I hope
that your group's perseverance will help other gay and lesbian scouts to not go through what I and some others
went through. Keep up the good work and I look forward to fighting with you, and someday we won't have to do this
Peace, Joy, Love,
|A Scout Shares His Feelings of Hurt Over the BSA Policy
Dear Steven Cozza,
I'm not sure what is motivating me to write this but, here it goes. I'm an ASTM with Troop in MN. I'm 19 and I'm
gay. Over the past year or so, I've wondered about ending my relationship with the scouts. I don't feel that the
SM is homo phobic, and we've discussed the issue a bit. A lot of things disturb me that I see in the scouts now.
I see "that's so gay" and "fag" yelled a lot. At the National Scout Jamboree I met a boy in my
(jamboree) troop and, after only 4 days into the three week trip I came out to him and he came out to me, that
is the only time I've ever came out to anyone in scouts. But the supreme court decision broke my heart, I could
no longer go to meetings, and every time I said the scout oath or law my heart broke even more. I'm still welcome
back as no body in my troop knows, but I've broken contact with them. Just writing this is bringing up a lot of
memories. I know you probably get a lot of these letters but I'd like to talk to you and find out what I should
This letter probably doesn't sound too coherent but its the best I could do at this time.
I look forward to hearing from you,
P.S. I just noticed that I was wearing a pair of scout socks... maybe that was my motivation.
P.P.S You probably don't remember but my best friend M. N. spent the weekend at a GLSEN conference that you were
at. Wondering if you remember him.
Eagle Scout Learns to Embrace His Brother
I don't know exactly what to say to you. Because, I'm not gay, and I support your effort to make a difference
in scouting. I didn't realize how awful the discrimination was till I watched that Matthew Shepard story on MTV.
I know it's a little sad that it took me 2 years to find out how awful that story really was. And I found out
that what I hated the most I was apart of... ignorance. I know I'm rambling to you, and I'm sorry for that. But,
at first when I heard they banned gay scouts and leaders, it didn't bother me.
Then I realized how awful it must be to be discriminated against. I never personally discriminated against anyone,
but I feel awful that people who are just like me, can be racist against another person for their race or sexual
preference. So, to sum up everything I'm dragging on about, I'm supporting you in your stand. I am a 19 year old
Eagle Scout and I am right now registered as a ASM in my home troop. My troop has never had a gay scout or leader
join the troop, but if it did. I feel that I would do my best to make that person feel welcome. I hope you can
change the BSA's mind on this...
Good luck in life,
Troop ----- OH
|Our Scouting, Not Theirs
Scouting was a tremendous experience for me as a teenager. I was an Eagle Scout, a Vigil Honor member of the Order
of the Arrow, and spent 4 summers as a member of camp staff.
One of the values I saw being taught in Scouting was tolerance. Kids of every color, kids of every religion, kids
from every economic background joined together, had fun together, and learned together.
Thirty years later, I am respected in my profession and my community, living in a loving, long-term relationship,
and helping to raise two small children. I am just the sort of man Scouting would want in a leadership position,
except for one thing--I am openly gay.
It hurts a great deal to know that Scouting's official policies no longer include tolerance for the likes of me.
It hurts even more to know that these policies mean that our children can never be involved in Scouting without
risking a nasty incident.
Somehow, the Boys Scouts of America has fallen under the control of a small group of men who are no longer interested
in the true ideals under which the organization was founded, and who instead want to use the organization to play
right-wing politics on the national stage.
No, I will not return my Eagle Scout medal or Vigil Honor sash. I am still the person who earned those awards.
I have not rejected the ideals of Scouting--it is Scouting's present national leadership who rejects those ideals.
Scouting does not belong to the politicians in the national or council offices. Scouting belongs to people like
me, and like the others who have posted on this page, and above all, to the kids. Someday, the rightful owners
of Scouting will take the organization back.
|I was visiting PlanetOut and wanted to share this piece of the "Ask Betty" column
I am in a rather complicated situation. I'm 16, gay, and in the Boy Scouts. My dad is the scoutmaster of the troop,
and I am the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL). If you know about the organization of a scout troop, an SPL is like the
leader of the boys, and my dad leads everyone. I'm getting very frustrated in school and Scouts. I go to one of
the most closed-minded high schools I know of. There is no GLA, and the subject of gay rights never comes up. Things
like "that's so gay" and "you faggot" are always thrown around the halls a mile a minute. Nobody
but one great art teacher of mine ever stops them. It gets very depressing, and I usually keep to myself. No social
In Scouts, I am much more popular than I am in school. Everyone voted almost unanimously to name me SPL, and kids
regularly come to me for help and advice. I enjoy Scouts very much and soon I will be working toward Eagle Scout.
But sadly for me, my popular status in the Scouts is only because they don't know the truth about me. They also
tend to throw around anti-gay vocabulary. With the new infamous policy that the Boy Scouts have, I've been getting even
Recently (last week) I came out to my mom. She's the only one that knows my secret. She's been very accepting,
but I think she thinks that I'm too young to know for sure if I am gay or not. I'm positive I am. We agreed that
I shouldn't tell my dad or anyone that I'm gay until I graduate high school and get Eagle Scout. Luckily for me,
I am a junior in high school, but I am graduating a year early to pursue a rather ambitious career in filmmaking.
On top of all of this, my only true friends are on the Internet, people I have met through this great Web site.
I know of no gay people in my neighborhood who I can talk to. My two best friends, who I have known for 15 years,
are very homo phobic. Since I have begun realizing who I am, our beliefs have grown further and further apart. I
still want to be friends with them, because under the hate, I know they are great, unique people. But they are
so closed-minded. I live in NY, so the upcoming election for senate and president is very critical for gay rights.
I can't vote yet, but my mom and dad are supporting Bush and Lazio. I'm not too sure how they stand on gay rights,
but I'm worried.
Sorry to draw this out, but to make it short, I need some help. Any advice on how to deal with my situation?
Grow up and get out of there as fast as you can. But seriously, grow up and get out of there as fast as you can.
But really seriously, you're a master of understatement. Your situation couldn't be anymore complicated. You are
to be commended for staying on in the Scouts after their hateful, ill-advised decision. I'm sure you're one of
many who are choosing to stay. I've also heard of men returning their Eagle Scout badges in protest.
I urge you to get in touch with GLSEN.org (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) for whatever help or moral
support they can offer you. Also, thank goodness your mother is accepting. Please use every opportunity to talk
things over with her. Maybe she'll be your advocate. Log onto PFLAG.org to see if there is any information there
that will help her.
All the best.
|This is My Story
I had been involved in scouting since I was in the third grade. I started as a Cub Scout and then went to Webelos
and continued as a Boy Scout. I worked very hard on badges, went camping with my troop once a month, and I was
a leader. I dedicated my spare time to scouting and when I turned 15, I started working at Camp Rock Enon in VA.
From that summer until I was 24, I spent my summers at Scout Camp as a Counselor. It definitely was not for the
pay, none of us did it for the pay, our hearts belonged to Scouting as did mine. I was highly respected by many
troops and even had leaders tell me that the only reason they came back was to see me again and take my classes.
I worked all over the place but finally settled as an Aquatics Director. I remember it like it was yesterday.
My last summer working at Camp Rock Enon was 1994. I knew I was gay and had known for several years. I kept it
very hush hush at camp though and lived my life as a straight guy. During the summer of 1994 though, I finally
started coming out to some of my closest friends. One of them told other people and eventually it got to the council
level when camp ended.
They then launched a full-scale investigation on me. Called all of my staff in and people I hung out with. They
outed me to Scout leaders and tried very hard to find out who I had molested. Since I had not molested anyone,
it was a frustrating fight for them. However, the following summer when I tried to apply, an application was not
mailed to me, my telephone calls were never answered. They shut me out and tarnished my name.
I often look back and wonder if I should have just kept my mouth shut. I lost a big part of my life when Scouting
shut me out. I have moved on and I eventually started working at a different camp. There I was openly gay and it
just wasn't an issue.
In Scouting, I earned my Eagle Scout award, which I still display in my home and I was a Brotherhood member of
the Order of the Arrow. I can thank Scouting for making me who I am today, I just wish I could continue and help
others the way I was. Maybe someday BSA will change their policy and I can get involved again. Keep up the work!!
Dan, Eagle Scout
|I Am in Scouting and Have to Hide Who I Am Because of Bigotry within the BSA
hi, i being an eagle scout and adult leader, well how can i put this.... upset at the way the scouting movement
has treated this topic. i hate hiding within the movement but i choose to ignore what others have to say about
me being gay. there are a lot of us in scouting but we stay quiet for fear of being tossed out of something that
has been a part of our life's for so many years. Although I don't do much other than troop com. and help out with
transportation I fear that someday the wrong person will find me out and have me tossed I would love to get really
active again, but I do not have much time to give ... home ownership is not that great. I'm 33 yrs old and would
love to go to Philmont 1 more time before i get too old or tired. being gay in scouts can really cause u harm,
if 1 person says u did something with a kid and they find out u are gay u are guilty no matter what this i guess
scares me the most "the witch hunt" good luck with "your scouting movement"
|August 30, 2000
1906 Madeira Ave.
Douglas, WY 82633
Mr. Keith Ashy
Central Wyoming Council, BSA
P.O. Box 1506
Clasper, WY 82602
Dear Mr. Ashy,
My name is Larry 'Sissy' Goodwin. On November 6, 1961, as a member of Boy Scout Troop #1 in Clasper, I was awarded
the rank of Eagle Scout. That was an honor that I have cherished through the years. However developments within
the scouting organization have caused me to seriously assess the Eagle award and what it represents.
For a number of years the Boy Scouts of America has denied membership to gay men and boys. One of the tenants of
Scouting is that a member be 'morally straight'. However, the BSA has used that very phrase to justify limiting
the membership to heterosexual individuals. Recent research has suggested that sexual orientation may be genetically
linked. In any case, I find it morally repugnant that the Boy Scouts of America would discriminate against anyone
because of whom they love or wish to share their life.
Intolerance and hate are learned behaviors. No one is borne prejudiced and small minded. When a respected organization
such as the Boy Scouts, advocates that gay members of society are not welcome in their membership it sends a clear
message that gay individuals are not as
moral or as decent as the rest of the citizens in our country. Although I would never suggest that the Scouting
program would ever advocate hate or violence against any person, it is a small step for well meaning individuals
to believe that social ostracism of gays is sanctioned by the BSA. It should not be surprising to the BSA, or other
institutions, that intolerance, hate and violence will follow once negative attributes are given to identifiable
segments of society.
In reference to the violence against gay members of our country the intolerance advocated by the Boy Scouts of
America is a national tragedy. As a consequence the emblem of the Boy Scouts of America has transformed from a
symbol of pride to one of shame.
Therefore I am returning my Eagle Award, documents and associated items to Scouting for All. Scouting for All is
a national organization dedicated to changing the discriminatory policies of the BSA.
Please forward a copy of this correspondence to the national office of the Boy Scouts of America.
|Dear Scouting for All,
Here is my testimonial:
I Could Never Be A Boy Scout Now
I was a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout in two different troops. I took my oaths very seriously and tried hard to live
up to the Boy Scout standards. I tried always to be respectful to others, to help the community, and to learn the
skills offered by the Scouts. But eventually I had to quit because of my commitment to some Boy Scout ideals. I
wrestled with the need to speak the truth, in light of my uncertain religious beliefs. As a young person I wondered
whether there was really a God whom I could honestly pledge allegiance to, both because I wasn't convinced that
God existed, and because there was so much suffering and hate in the world that I wasn't sure I wanted to pledge
to a God that condoned discrimination and violence in His name.
Another scout I knew always bragged about his success with girls, in a really crude manner. Later, he left scouting
and I found out that he was gay, and just said those things out of fear that he'd be beaten up if anyone guessed
his secret. His fears were justified: at our school a bisexual boy had a gun pulled on him in the auditorium and
was repeatedly beaten up by gangs of football players. Some of those people who beat that boy up were Boy Scouts.
Now the scouts are openly discriminatory against my religion, Unitarian-Universalism, because it has taught me
to love all people and to be honest and open in my spiritual life. These are not values that the Boy Scouts of
America support. It is so sad that such a large and useful group has become co-opted by the worst elements of our
society. I could never be a Boy Scout now because I'm still agnostic and I have many gay friends and family members
whom I wouldn't want to turn away from.
|I joined Cub Scouts when I was 8. I still remember the den meetings, the Pinewood Derbies, camping with my Dad.
I remember, too, having to make a choice between scouting and organized sports. I chose scouting.
When I was 11, I eagerly joined up with the local troop. Although I never achieved Eagle, I stayed with the program
until I was 18.
It was through Scouts that I had many great adventures, both close to home and across the country. My Order of
the Arrow ordeal. Backpacking through the mountains of Colorado. Weeks spent at summer camp -- a place I eventually
returned to as a counselor.
I also made lifelong friends -- today, I'm still in regular contact with a core group of fellow scouts; by way
of comparison, I have no contact with former high school friends.
When my son was born in 1991, I promised myself that he, too, would get the chance to experience the joys of Scouting.
As he grew older, I followed the news about the BSA's fight to exclude gays with some interest.
It disturbed me that the organization was taking such an exclusionary stance; their position didn't mesh with what
I thought Scouting stood for. But I held out hope that the Supreme Court would decide in a way that would cause
the BSA National organization to re-evaluate their stance.
When my son turned 7, we enrolled him in a local private school. I was happy to find out that the school also had
an active Cub pack. My son asked to sign up. We did, and he began to enjoy the fruits of Scouting.
When the Supreme Court handed down its decision, I was dismayed. How could I reconcile the fact that my family
was now supporting an organization that had the force of law behind its decision to discriminate against a class
My only choice was to remove my son from the Pack. As I explained in the letter sent to the cubmaster, our family
has family and friends who are gay. We have always taught our children that these people are to be loved and accepted
as any other person. I could no longer support an organization that labeled them as "immoral" or not
to be trusted simply because of who they were.
It's my hope that someday BSA will see the error of its ways; I don't hold out a lot of hope for that, as it seems
the National organization is in the thrall of a group of narrow-minded, controlling and fear-laden people.
But there is always hope.
|Hi. My name is Anne and I'm a 32 year-old woman.
I had my first experience of being discriminated against as a woman at about age 12. My folks shared cooking duties,
my Dad taught me to respect and work with his tools. My Mom was a machinist at a metal shop. I had male and female
teachers in elementary school. I believed with all my heart that I could be a forest ranger, an astronaut, a politician,
an Eagle scout... but that summer, as I poured over the then-current Boy Scout handbook, a truth sank in. It was
a truth my many readings of Earnest Thompson Seton's 'Woodcraft' and the first edition of the BSA handbook had
not prepared me for. Because I was a girl, I was deliberately and intentionally excluded from a program which was
beneficial "to all mankind."
I have often said that one of the great hurts in my life is never having had the chance to be a Boy Scout at all.
I persisted in trying to glean the benefits of scouting for myself for a long time after that moment. I worked
with and supported my younger brother in his scouting efforts... helping him learn and demonstrate basic knots
as a cub scout, committing alongside him to "do a good deed daily." I finished a headdress my father
had started during his scouting
days and left undone. I read Boys Life month and poured through back issues at the library. But, I was always on
the outside. Learning skills, but denied merit badges. Achieving, but unrecognized. Faithful, but alone. Learning
ethics and values, while experiencing the hypocrisy they contained.
In the organization I did have access to and my parents supported me in, Job's Daughters, I acted as much like
a scout as possible... being committed and responsible, understanding that any promises I made were on my honor
and that I was duty bound to keep them. I served in every office and was faithful in every aspect. I earned what
could be earned and memorized the handbook. A longtime adult sponsor of our statewide organization once complimented
me by saying, "Here's a true Job's Daughter." But really, I was a true scout in Job's Daughter robe.
I understand now that I fall toward the masculine end of the normal distribution of girls. I am fascinated with
tools and have an insight into machines, processes and spatial relations that most of my female peers lack. I am
a lesbian. I believe that the BSA environment... even if in an all-girl adjunct or "rogue" troop... would
have given me a more
stable basis to stand on through high school and into adulthood because I would have had a place where my traits
were a strength and not a weakness. I might have spent less time bemoaning my weirdness and more time contributing
positively to society and learning the strengths I am capable of. I might have entered my 30's with a healthier
body and a healthier life.
I learned a lot of good things from my days watching from the corner. I learned that chivalry is something we all
need to take responsibility for. I learned that a democracy reflects its involved members. I learned that for kids
to grow into solid adults, they need good adults involved in their lives. I learned that you can take big goals
and break them down into smaller goals. I learned that even smaller goals have parts in them where you just have
to knuckle down and get to work.
I hope that someday in the future, girls like me will be included in "mankind" and will be able to learn
these lessons in the middle of the community of scouts, with good, accepting, adults to support them.
|Suspicion, hate, discrimination and harassment.
Not very nice sounding words are they? Compare them with these words for a moment;
Brotherhood, Cheerfulness and Service.
Quite a contrast isn't it? Or if you prefer try these..
Potential threat, Pervert, Biological Error and Outcast
as opposed to:
Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor Member, DSA Recipient and Role Model.
The BSA at one time in my life, held me up as an ideal of service and leadership to this country's youth. It has
conferred upon me some its highest awards and accolades. Yet when I look around the BSA what do I see?
1) If you are over 25 and single you are immediately suspected as being gay and a threat to youth.
2) If you are friends with anyone who is gay or lesbian you are immediately suspect
3) If you dare to criticize the bigoted policies of the BSA then you immediately suspect.
How many talented Scouts and Scouters and the unit, district, council, Sectional , Regional and yes even NATIONAL
levels have been hounded out of the BSA by quiet yet very organized witch hunts.
I love Scouting it has been a pivotal part of my life for 22 years (since I was 7 years old) It pained me to leave
it but I have seen too many good, decent and talented people hurt, and I cant be a part of something like that.
Ironically, even now I feel the need to withhold my name
A New EX-Scouter
|Never before had I faced discrimination on a personal level until this last October. I grew up in the Midwest where
everyone seems to be white and Christian. Being a male was also a plus in the grand scheme of things, so it seemed
that I fit into the mold perfectly. I had a normal childhood, and I graduated at the top of my high school class
in 1996. I left the tiny farming town of Marceline (boyhood home of Walt Disney) to attend college at the University
of Missouri-Columbia. It was there that I began to truly understand that there was something different about me.
In October of last year, after fighting months of severe depression, I revealed my homosexuality to my friends
This is not another poor-gay-me story, though. My family did not reject me for who I was, and the great majority
of my friends seemed to care less. I even told my campus Catholic priest about my decision, and he assured me that
God and the Church would still stand by me. It seemed that coming out was not going to be as big of an issue as
I thought it would be.
However, there was one group that certainly did take issue with my new identity.
I joined the Boy Scouts of America during elementary school and continued my involvement into college. I earned
my Eagle Scout rank in 1992 and was named American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for the state of Missouri. I
served my local council as a summer camp staff member for seven years. The Scout council always has a very difficult
time filling summer camp staff positions, as the jobs never pay anywhere near minimum wage. I worked eight weeks
my first summer as an ecology and conservation instructor for only one hundred and fifty dollars. I loved summer
camp with all my heart, though, and that is what drew me back year after year.
I was eventually elected the council leader of Scouting's national honor society (the Order of the Arrow). Being
the youth leader for that group consumed so much of my time that my family often talked of how I was working the
only full-time professional volunteer job. It seemed that every free weekend was spent working with youth and adult
leaders across the state and nation. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I actually was at an Order of the Arrow
event the night before I came out of the closet.
I was fully aware of Scouting's policy on homosexuality though I never was able to find any literature or printed
policy on the issue. It was just one of those understood rules. I knew that I would be dismissed from the organization
as soon as they discovered the truth about me. I was so completely upset and scared about the whole situation that
I decided to resign all of my positions before they had a chance to "dishonorably discharge" me. I didn't
have the courage to do it myself, so I sent my mother to the council office to do it for me. I believe she thought
that the council would not remove me. How could they turn their backs on one of their most devoted members? The
council was seemingly sympathetic and assured her that they were only following policy by dismissing me. Over half
a lifetime's work was pushed aside because I was finally living up the Scout principle of trustworthiness (the
first point of the Scout Law). I spent that evening packing up years of Scouting memorabilia, uniforms, and camping
gear while my mother wept in the background. It was simply too painful for me to have reminders of my beloved organization
lining my walls.
Staff members are given a wooden clothes closet to store their gear in during the weeks of camp. These closets
have been in use for decades, and it is tradition for the staff member to write his or her (yes, women can serve
on staff) name on it to immortalize their days serving at camp. I first scribbled my name on a closet back in 1992.
A professional for the council, after learning of my sexuality, asked that my name be painted over.
Apparently my memory needed to be wiped out completely to prevent further insurrection.
The Supreme Court has now heard the oral arguments in the case Boy Scouts of America vs. James Dale. Mr. Dale was
dismissed from Scouting while he was in college, too. He has been fighting for the right to return to the organization
he loves since 1992. The extreme courage and perseverance of that man should be an inspiration for gays everywhere.
Never before has a case before the Supreme Court been of such vital importance to me. A decision is not expected
I worry each and every day about what decision the court will make. A mother of a Scout I know has already asked
me to accompany her to camp when she visits her boy this summer. I just hope that I will have the right to wear
my uniform when I go.
Curtis Paul Hainds
On the eve of my completion of the Wood Badge adult leadership program recently, those of us gathered around the
campfire heard the 12 points of the Scout Law recited with explanations. When the speaker came to Obedient, he
went on to say that a Scout obeys the rules of his family, his place of worship, his organization, and his society.
If he does not agree with those rules, he works peacefully to change them, rather than disobey them.
This is how I came to my decision to resign from the Boy Scouts of America.
I am a single gay man in my late twenties. I am an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.
Up until recently, I served on the district staff in multiple positions, including Commissioner service. I have
also been an assistant Scoutmaster and an instructor at Scoutmastership Fundamentals. In short, Scouting has been
a significant part of my life
since I was 11 years old, and it pains me to leave it.
I spent most of my teenage and young adult years denying that I was gay. How could I be something so immoral, so
antithetical to the values of Scouting and my church, I wondered. So I denied it. I denied it so strongly that
even I never believed it. Even after attempting suicide as a young adult, I never could face it. Then within the
last few years, something changed. I realized that God created me to be who I am. I recognized that homosexuality
is not a choice, but a biologically determined trait. Straight people do not "choose" to be straight,
they simply are. Why, then, would a gay person CHOOSE a life of rampant injustice and wanton persecution?
I spoke with several high-ranking members of our council staff about my decision to leave the program. I explained
that it was a matter of honor for me to leave with my head held high and my sexuality in the open. Failing to do
so, I thought, could lead to harm for the organization I love, if I were inadvertently found out. This is my choice,
and I choose to take the high road by voluntarily leaving Scouting until I am once again welcome among its ranks.
I am deeply disturbed, however, by senior officials who told me of their position that "Not all gays are pedophiles,
but all pedophiles are homosexuals." This is a patent and outright untruth. The vast majority of pedophiles
are middle-aged married men. Given the statistics, how can these leaders tell me that pedophilia is the issue?
When I have given 500 or more hours a year to Scouting, all because I want our young people to grow up to be good
citizens, why do my contributions not matter now?
Wake up, people. Teaching young people to fear homosexuals only breeds homophobia and contempt. Matthew Shepard
was beaten to death because of his sexual identity... and one of his assailants, Russell Henderson, was an Eagle
Scout. Why can't Scouting teach values of love and understanding, not values of fear and judgement?
I am proud to be who I am. I am a devoted American with a close walk with God. After a lifetime of fighting it,
I am OK with my identity. It is my sincere hope that one day, I'll be able to work as a Scout leader again... but
for now, my code of silence has to be broken, and I will never again hide who I am.
My thoughts and prayers are with the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America as they struggle with this issue.
I urge all people of conscience to take a stand in calling for the end of an era of discrimination. God be with
Yours in Scouting,
|My story starts when my 16 yrs. old son was 7 yrs. old and in the second grade. I had been a cub scout many years
ago and wanted my son to experience the fun and positive effect of scouting. I promised myself to only be an assistant
den leader to keep an eye on things. But as most do, I was cubmaster in less than a year. Things progressed smoothly
over the next 10 years and I met some wonderful men and women as leaders and parents. And of course I had some
super cubs !!
I never thought about my bisexuality being an issue with the BSA or the Baptist church where we held our meetings
and of which I was a member in good standing. I kept my private life private. Until my wife went to the pastor
church and stated she thought I was having an affair with another man. Upon hearing this, the pastor promptly relieved
me of my Sunday school class and word got to BSA headquarters about the ALLEGED wrong doing.
In a matter of days, word spread throughout the community of my sexuality and my being guilty of many things, which
never were proven. BSA officials decided to revoke my membership based on statements made by church individuals
and never came to me to ask if they were true or false. So after 10 loyal years of being a cubmaster and den leader
for no compensation, BSA felt ending my connection to the organization would be better than a scandal.
I have two more weeks to file a request to have the regional office in GA review the action. I hate to think about
the publicity, but I cannot set back and do nothing, since that would be the wrong example to my boys. I know the
BSA will not change their way of thinking in the years to come, but I hope over time more and more people will
stand up and be heard.
Peace to you,
|My name is Ed and I'm 31 years old. I joined the Cub Scouts when I was growing up in Philadelphia. It's funny,
sitting here thinking about it, I can still remember sitting in the hall of the public school in my neighborhood
and learning about Cub Scouts. I remember the excitement and how thrilled I was about everything. I couldn't wait
to read the book, to get my uniform and go to my first meeting. I guess it's natural. I was a young boy and this
was first taste of something bigger than my own house and my own block. Somehow this all seemed important and special.
In truth it was. Cub Scouting and the Boy Scouts were a very important part of my life growing up. I learned a
lot about life, adversity, duty and honor. I remember one of camping trips where nothing at all went right. It
like one thing after another. I remember talking to my dad, who was an Assistant Scoutmaster and him teaching me
about the importance of toughing it out and trying to make the best out of the situation in which I found myself.
remember walking back to my campsite determined to make this trip a good one and realizing that I could help salvage
this trip. If I did mange to get things going in the right direction, the other Scouts might end up having a
good time too. I remember an OA service project where I was teamed with a group of adult leaders to do some heavy
work of moving the wooden floors for the tents in the summer heat. I remember of the leaders saying he couldn't
believe that I managed to keep up with them all day as I was half their size and strength. I felt like I'd earned
something that day.
I remember my First Aid merit badge and talking with the paramedic from the fire department and they worked to
save lives. I remember my Computer merit badge and learning about types of memory, and machines. I remember my
Camping merit badge and all of the nights spent looking at the beauty of the world in nature. I remember my Eagle
Court of Honor. I remember the feeling of achieving something - of being part of a select group of people that
had made it to that level. I felt as if there was nothing that I couldn't do.
After I earned my Eagle, I went away to college. The activities of college life and different places and different
people left me with little time to devote back to the organization I loved. In truth, I was also in a time of crisis.
It was in college that I began to have the first thoughts that I might be gay. In truth, I'd known it for a long
time but I never admitted it to myself. And I didn't truly admit it until I had long graduated from college but
that didn't change the fact that I had known that I was "different" even in the days of my Cub Scouting.
As it does, time went by and slowly I came to grips with who I was. It was difficult because being gay seemed to
be the antithesis of everything I had learned since I was young. All these images of manhood clashed with the stereotypes
of being gay. What I eventually learned was that being gay had nothing to do with manhood or anything else. It
simply was who I was. Just as I was a scout, a college grad, and a young man, I was gay. Nothing more and nothing
In the intervening years, a lot has changed but a lot I learned from scouting has stayed. I ended working in the
computer field and still think about some of the things, though dated now, that I learned with the merit badge.
In fact, it was the skills that I learned there that caused me to seek out computer training in college and which
helped me to land my first job. I try to live up to my duty to God and I am active in my church because I believe
it is important to practice what you believe.
I've also become a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with my township's ambulance service. In the past
five years, I estimate that I've answered about 700 calls for help and emergency medical care all without
expectation of any payment or thanks. I've gone out in ice, snow and rain that has kept others at home. I've stood
knee deep in the muddy water of a creek. I've gone 48 hours without sleep because of a blizzard. I've taken care
infants, children and older people. I've bandaged little cuts and mangled bodies from car wrecks, done CPR and
a held a scared patient's hand. Every once in a while, someone will ask why I do this. Its hard thankless work.
always explain it. There are the simple rules that I learned in scouting: duty to my fellow man, do a good turn
daily, a scout is helpful, the belief that I could make a difference and how a situation could be changed by one
person stepping outside of themselves and taking the initiative to help. Sometimes people understand and sometimes
they don't. But I do know that the paramedic that taught me my first aid for my merit badge understands.
As I write all of this, I don't do it with the intent to brag about what I do or to seek thanks or approbation.
However, that is one of the sad things about being gay. So very often you are told that you are morally corrupt,
a sinner, an abomination. Often you are judged not by who you are but by stereotypes. Sometimes you just feel the
need to try to challenge those ideas and to try to prove that you are a good person as fruitless as that is. Sometimes
you just want to ask if everything you do is meaningless because one part of who you are.
Unfortunately, the BSA is one of the big offenders trying to make the lives and the good things that gay people
do meaningless. We can't be good role models, good leaders or good people. We don't represent family values.
Some time ago, I was invited to a Eagle Court of Honor for the son of a colleague. I knew his son was in the Scouts
and I had often told him about the wonderful experiences that I had and the lessons that I learned. Despite the
fact that the colleague lived three hours away, he invited me to the Court of Honor. When he invited me, he told
me because it was all of my talk about the Scout program and what I had told him that I learned from the Scouts
. He said it helped him realize the importance of the Scout program and he encouraged his son to stick with it.
Despite all I knew about the BSA's anti gay policies, I decided to go because deep in my heart I still had love
for the program.
As I stood with the other Eagle Scouts at the end of the ceremony, I was struck with a sudden sadness and felt
very out of place. I knew how very much the BSA would not want me standing there if everyone knew I was gay and
how offended they might be. As proud as I was of the Scouting program that made me and many other men, they had
absolutely no pride in me or who I was or had become. To them I was not a good Scout and nothing I did or will
do would change that.
Even now as I write this have a knot in my stomach. I am fearful that my parents will come downstairs and see what
I'm writing. I prefer to remain anonymous, but here is my story.
I am 19 years old and in the last few months I have finally begun to come to terms with my sexuality. I am an Eagle
Scout and currently serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster. I have worked for a number of years at a Council Summer
Camp. I am also a Closet homosexual. Slowly I am progressing out of my closet by telling my friends. I spent 9
years of my life pretending I was someone who I am not. I love the Boy Scouts and the ideas they instill in young
men and I believe that Scouting, more than anything else has made me the man I am today. This is why I am disgusted
by the BSA's policy towards homosexuals. I believe
that above all every person has the unconditional right to be happy. No one has the right to take that away. The
bigotry and hatred that the BSA currently supports is appalling. I applaud you and your efforts to create a new
Scouting that is sensitive to people like me. I attempted suicide. I spent every night alone in bed crying. I lived
in fear and still do. Please keep up the good work. It is wonderful to see that someone hold the true spirit of
anonymous out of fear
|To whomever gets to this first,
I never much cared for the boy scouts or their cause. Of course, when my parents made me go for the first time
I didn't know much about it. Apparently, neither did they. You see, I have two mothers who probably weren't aware
that the Boy Scouts were incredibly homo phobic, or maybe they did and sent me anyway. The point being that the
Troop Leaders didn't appreciate a couple of lesbians bringing their little queer-infested son into their troop.
I didn't stay longer than six months, but I learned a lot about people disliking you because of who your parents
About a year ago I came out. I'm sixteen now and I support "Scouting for All" very much. It's important
to have organizations like yours in our community and our country. Individuals like Steven Cozza are also vital
in the fight against homophobia. I appreciate what you are doing for everybody. I will be sure to bring up your
organization and this site to my GSA at our next meeting. Thanks so much.
|I was the third generation of my family to be involved in Scouting. My grandfather received the Silver Beaver for
his work as a Scouter. My father earned the Eagle Rank and served as Scoutmaster, District Commissioner, Unit Commissioner
and Merit Badge Counselor. I was a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer. When I married a woman with two sons, I
enrolled them in Scouting and became a volunteer leader, I served as WEBELOS Den Leader, Cub Master, Assistant
Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, Order of the Arrow Advisor, District Camping Chair, District Scouting for Food Chair,
Council Camping Committee Member, Health and Safety Officer for our Scout Troop and Troop Committee Chair. I was
a merit badge counselor for eight merit badges. I received the Scouter's Key, Scoutmaster's National Award of Merit,
Arrowman of the
Year Award, The George Meany Award for Service to Youth through Scouting and Key Leader District Award. I had the
honor to award six youth in my troop the Eagle Rank, as well as participating in the First Class in one year program,
our troop was recognized by the American River Foundation for its community service. I operated a Youth Run Troop,
where the Patrol Leader's council and Senior Patrol Leader planned the troop's activities, presented this plan
for approval to the Troop Committee and then the Scouts were responsible to make it happen.
I had during my Scouting Career been invited to Wood Badge Training a number of times, had passed Scoutmaster's
Training and the Train the Trainer Course, been an instructor at the Commissioner's College of our Council and
conducted training on Child Protection, Wood Tools and Troop Organization. I had the respect of my peers and the
professional Scouters in my Council. Yet after all this excellent work, fifteen years as a Scout Leader who excelled
and was an example to other Scouter's on how to be a Scout Leader, I was expelled from Scouting because I am biologically
bi-sexual. I am married to a woman. I am monogamous, a trait I know other Scouters do not practice. In all ways
I do my best to follow the Scout Law and obey my Scout Oath. I knew many Scouters who did not, some actually ridiculed
the ideals of Scouting and flaunted their disobedience to the rules and principles of Scouting. Yet they are allowed
to be role models for our youth and I am not.
I am a Vietnam Veteran with a Good Conduct Medal, Honorable Discharge and Meritorious service Commendation. The
U.S. Army did not care that I was bi-sexual. Why should the Boy Scouts of America. I support Scouting for All because
as a Unitarian Universalist, I believe that God created all people. These individuals were created with diverse
traits that should be valued. They deserve to be treated honor and dignity. The current policy of the Boy Scouts
of America violates this principle. I did not choose to be bi-sexual, God created me this way. I did choose to
be in a heterosexual relationship, I did choose to be monogamous because it is the way my wife and I choose to
live. How do I pose a threat to the moral development of the youth in Scouting?
I have appealed the decision of the Scout Executive to expel me from Scouting. But my appeal received lip service,
I was not permitted the opportunity to address the appeal board and my appeal to the National Scout Executive has
not been acknowledged. The National Leaders do not even adhere to their own policies and procedures. Their homophobia
and prejudice blinds them to the goodness and value that I brought to the Scouts in the Units I served.
I miss the love and joy I found in Scouting but I have not stopped being a volunteer in my community. I am now
working with our local AIDS Foundation as a mentor to a ten year old boy who is not infected but his mother is
ill and his father has died from an opportunistic infection that his immune system was unable to fight due to HIV
infection. Instead of being in a group of boys with other adults, I am now working one on one without supervision.
At first it was uncomfortable because of my training in the Rule of Four Program of the BSA. But I am becoming
comfortable with being with this young man and enjoy helping him have a male role model and a chance to explore
the outdoors. He has been talking about becoming a Boy Scout next year and I will support his efforts to participate
in that program. I am sure that council will have a hissy fit when I walk through the door but they will not be
able to keep me out.
The Boy Scouts of America Defends Its Own Bigotry As An Institution By Banning Those Who Disagree
Gregg Shield's, National Spokesperson of the National Boy Scouts of America was quoted as saying when asked by
a reporter in March of 1998, " What is the Boy Scouts of America going to do about Steven Cozza and his father
Scott Cozza?" Mr. Shield's replied by saying, "The Boy Scouts of America will not interfere with a father
and son relationship." The Boy Scouts of America allowed my troop to kick me out only because of my belief
that gays should not be discriminated against and should be allowed in scouting. Steven and I did not violate any
troop or National BSA rule. My troop told me "they did not want their children to associate with me."
Before Steven and I took our stand I was looked at within the troop as a good adult leader. The local Redwood Empire
Council and Steven's troop put much pressure on him in his successful attempt to earn his Eagle rank. They told
him that he didn't have the Eagle Spirit and that he did not believe in the Scout Oath or Law. He just told them
that he believed in the Oath and Law, that it was the BSA who did not follow them through their practice of discrimination
against gays. Despite all that Steven rose above the adult leaders at the council level and within the troop. He
received his Eagle. The Redwood Empire Council and the BSA have since banned me from associating with any troop,
although I'm still an adult in the capacity of merit badge counselor. I had attempted to have Steven and I transfer
to another troop, but when the scout master of the troop told me, Steven would have to be interviewed by their
troop sponsor, I knew Steven was again being treated differently. So I decided against seeking a transfer to another
troop. Steven and I agreed we'd just start our own troop that would be community service focused and would honor
the diversity of the human family. We attempted to form our own troop reassuring the local council we would abide
by the BSA rules. The United Church of Christ agreed to sponsor the troop. We adopted the family homeless shelter
and were going to offer free memberships to the homeless kids at the shelter. After months of negotiation the troop
was denied. It was denied because I was listed as an adult leader in the troop. And all the adult leaders that
were listed with me were also banned from associating with any scout troops. So Steven and I are currently in scouting
but without a troop to enjoy the scouting experience together.
Mr. Shield's, did the Boy Scouts of America interfere with my relationship with my son Steven? I'll let you and
the National Boy Scouts of America and our local Redwood Empire Council answer that question. What did Steven and
do so terribly wrong? We stood up against discrimination. We did not turn our backs on our friends who were being
discriminated against. We followed the Scout Oath and Law in taking our stand. It says in the new scout handbook
defining the term morally straight, a scout, "Should respect and defend the rights of all people."
The BSA's actions against Steven and I have only made us both stronger in our resolve. Because now we can feel
on a more personal level how terrible it is to be discriminated against.
Scott Cozza, Vice President
Scouting For All
BSA "Banned" Adult Scout Leader