Members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America
Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive
Three years ago, I sent my Eagle Scout badge back to the Boy Scouts of America in protest (you can find that letter here: http://eaglebadges.tumblr.com/page/2 ). The BSA had just reaffirmed its policy on homosexual members and, as an Eagle Scout, I felt I finally had to face the moral weight of my “lifetime” association with the organization. Like hundreds of others, I chose to dissociate (while voicing support for Scouting as a global movement) in the hope that my external pressure combined with the efforts of committed Scouts from within would spur much needed change in the BSA’s policies.
Much of that change has come to pass in the last three years. I have been pleased and encouraged to see the national BSA first lift its ban on gay youth members and then leave to its member units the right to determine local policy on gay adult leadership. As some of my Scouting friends and I observed, these gradualist policies spell a fairly quick end to discrimination in Scouting, a movement that seeks intentionally to cultivate leadership in every one of its youth members. Many local units have already chosen to identify themselves as inclusive communities that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation among youth or adult members.
There is more I would like to see change (in particular, I have theological reservations about obtaining half-hearted confessions of faith from young people who mostly just want to learn how to steer a canoe). But I think now as before there is much good in Scouting, and I am now satisfied that the grossest injustices in the Boy Scouts of America have been addressed effectually. The national BSA chose Kindness over hatred, and has thereby increased the pressure on its member units to do the same. For these reasons, I have chosen to wear the uniform – with Eagle and Equality knots above my heart – to participate as a member of this fellowship in my younger brother’s upcoming Eagle Court of honor. And in six or seven years, I look forward to finding an inclusive, active, youth-led troop with my son, whose birth we expect this April. Should he choose to participate as I did, I expect his experience of American Scouting will be better than was even possible for me, because the program itself will know love and justice in ways it has only recently begun to understand.
Please regard this letter as a statement of my intent to associate with the Boy Scouts of America as part of my continued identification with Scouting as a tradition and a global movement.
yours in the Spirit of Cheerful Service,
David Gonzalez Rice