I’m not a big fan of last week’s decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay Scouts — but continue the ban on all gay adults, in any capacity.
Here’s the message that sends to all teenagers, of any sexual orientation: It’s okay to be a gay kid. Gay adults, though, are horrible human beings.
Of course, I was never a Boy Scout.
Jeff Durkin was. A gay Boy Scout.
In fact, Jeff was a gay Eagle Scout.
The Westporter — who just graduated from the University of Massachusetts as a linguistics major, and hopes to teach English in Japan — has a special perspective on the BSA.
A few days before the decision, Jeff wrote to the Connecticut Yankee Council — the governing body for over 17,000 Scouts and nearly 4,600 adult volunteers in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
In 2009 with Troop 36, I earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Scouts taught me to be proud of myself, and to lead other people. I feel that the only way to uphold that message is to be all-inclusive….
Regardless of the decision you make, gays will remain in Scouts. But instead of being told they are fully functioning human beings, they will be told there is a part of them that is shameful and that they shouldn’t tell anyone about it.
I went through this experience enough as a child, and Scouts was the one place I felt I belonged. My Scout troop was the first group of people I came out as gay to. They accepted me with open arms. I knew then what it meant to be part of a community. I thank you for that, and I hope that you make that experience easier for kids everywhere.
An hour later, Yankee Council president Michael Abrahamson wrote back. He said:
I appreciate your sharing your thoughts, and I am glad that you found success in Scouting. Your words show me that you do understand the meaning of being an Eagle Scout.
I know that you were a part of one of the finest troops in our council, and I am not at all surprised that Mr. Jack Berry and the rest of Troop 36 supported you.
I want you to know that we at the Connecticut Yankee Council have taken the position of formally welcoming both youth and adults regardless of their sexual orientation. We hope that the National organization will soon follow our lead and adopt a similar position.
I know that the lessons of scouting will serve you well, and again I thank you for your insight.
The national Boy Scouts of America might not fully understand or appreciate their own values — things like kindness, character, living your life with honesty.
But the Connecticut Yankee Council sure does.