8-year-old Frank sends handwritten letter to Boy Scouts in support of inclusion
This week, the Huffington Post published a letter that an 8-year-old Cub Scout named Frank hand-wrote to the Boy Scouts of America, which asked, in part, why they don't stand up for gay people.
Frank's parents at first withdrew him from the Boy Scouts when they learned that the B.S.A's anti-gay policies were still in place but then put him back in the program because they realized, "that homophobes in other parts of the country want fair-minded people out of a very worthy program." However, in re-enrolling him, Frank's parents stipulated that they had to push for change within the organization.
Frank and his family are yet another example of those who love being a part of the B.S.A as a whole but do not approve of the organization's homophobic policies. In August, NBC reported the story of Scoutmaster Bill Devos, who sent in his Eagle Scout medal, badge and knot to the Boy Scouts' headquarters. Devos is the father of two eagle scouts and said he had no intention of leaving the boy scouts. In explaining his decision Devos said, “I want very much to… continue as the Scoutmaster and try to influence as many people as I can."
GLAAD friend and founder of Scouts for Equality, Zach Wahls, made the decision not to return his badges. He recently explained this decision saying, "I do not want to diminish the effect I can have as a badge holding member of the organization…I don't think that every Boy Scout understands the difference between the boy-scouting movement and the Boy Scout organization - like what it means to be an American verses the American government, for example."
Some Scouts however made the decision to leave the Boy Scouts altogether. Burke Stansbury started a tumblr page to showcase letters from people who have sent their badges in. When asked about his decision to leave the organization, Stansbury said, "It would be more painful to continue to be associated with the Boy Scouts than it is to send back a medal."
The Boy Scouts of America continues to defer the vote over whether to allow openly LGBT members. Until the B.S.A votes to do the right thing, many people will echo Frank's thoughts in his letter: "Please support gay people more. Let them in scouts. It's not like they're evil, they just want to marry the people they love. Please vote against the ban."
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old's Cub Scout Pack for being gay. More than 1 million people have joined Change.org petition campaigns since Tyrrell launched her first petition.
There are two new campaigns to keep the pressure on. One is asking recording artists Carly Rae Jepsen and Train, who will headline the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, to speak out against the ban. The other is calling on the National Geographic Channel to air a disclaimer before each episode of the network's new series Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout denouncing the BSA's ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.
For more info on the movement to end this discrimination, including a timeline of events, visit glaad.org/scouts.
This month the United States Supreme Court will issue decisions on two cases critical to marriage equality. GLAAD is working with media outlets and couples around the country to push for marriage. Follow GLAAD for up to date news about the Supreme Court's decision at www.glaad.org/marriage