1:27pm

Tue July 31, 2012
The Commonwealth

Eagle Scout Protests Ban on Gay Members

A Kentucky Eagle Scout has joined many others across the country in returning his badge to the Boy Scouts of America in light of the organization's doubling down on its policy against gay members. Earlier this month, BSA officials reaffirmed that anyone who identifies as gay or lesbian cannot join the scouts or be an adult leader. That prompted many Eagle Scouts to send their badges and letters of complaint to scout leadership. Among them was Jackson Cooper, a former senior patrol leader of Louisville Troop 342.

“Most people didn't realize this was the policy and my hope in writing the letter is that enough attention would be drawn, regardless of whether they hold those beliefs personally, the leadership would find those positions untenable just as a matter of public relations," says Cooper.

In a statement announcing the BSA's decision, Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca says, “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”

Cooper says he's concerned the policy will hurt young scouts as well.

“As they come of age and come to realize their sexual orientation, I can only imagine what kind of effect that would have to be told there's something wrong with them and they're not welcome in that organization. As a general matter, I think the effect of the policy is to damage the reputation of the organization.”

And in his letter to BSA leadership, Cooper discusses how the policy would have affected him and his family.

There may or may not have been any homosexual boys in our troop. I can’t honestly say that I know. But I do know that my now deceased mother, a lesbian, would not have been allowed to serve as a den mother if her orientation had been public knowledge at the time. The thought that I have invested such a large part of my life with an organization that would have turned my own mother away breaks my heart.

Cooper says he's doubtful the BSA will reverse the position anytime soon. The BSA's statement on the decision outlines the process for changing the policy.

Resolutions asking the BSA both to affirm and reconsider this policy have been raised throughout the years. With any resolution, regardless of subject, the BSA may or may not refer it to a committee for review or may immediately determine no further action is necessary.