As a young boy, I enjoyed being a Cub Scout. Like most little boys, I was only there because my parents took me there. It was a lot of fun. There were arts and crafts projects, snacks at every meeting and we got to wear uniforms with snazzy sashes and bandanas around our necks. It made me feel important and like a part of a group. Plus, we learned some basic skills that turned out to be somewhat meaningful later in life.
I gathered as many patches as I could earn, from week to week, and my mother would happily stitch them onto my sash or my shirt using whatever color thread happened to be in her favorite needle. As I outgrew my Cub Scout uniform and moved on to become a Webelo Scout, I continued to earn badges and learn new skills from my Den Mother and the Boy Scout program. But, soon, I grew to realize that I was different from the other boys. And, as I began to create my unique personality, I knew that I didn’t really belong in the “scouts”. My interests pointed me in other directions and I began to pursue other activities that I could enjoy even more.
Later in life, I learned just how discriminatory the Boy Scouts of America really were. Their mission wasn’t to help us become the men that we wanted to be … but to become the men they thought we should be. The organization, I later learned, is (and always has been) extraordinarily homophobic. So much so that recent headlines involving a Den Mother that was “dismissed” from her position because she’s a lesbian have garnered quite a bit of negative publicity for the BSA. This woman launched a petition campaign and called on the Board of Directors of the Boy Scouts of America to eliminate their discriminatory policies. One board member, Ernst & Young’s CEO James Turley, stands with her in calling for an end to the ban on gay scouts.
“Ernst & Young is proud to have such a strong record in LGBT inclusiveness. As CEO, I know that having an inclusive culture produces the best results, is the right thing for our people and makes us a better organization. My experience has led me to believe that an inclusive environment is important throughout our society and I am proud to be a leader on this issue. I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse. As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.” - James Turley, CEO, Ernst & Young
I commend Mr. Turley for taking a stand against an antiquated policy that does much more harm than good to the young boys of our nation. Statistics indicate that, since 1910, more than 104 million American boys have become members. Seventy-two percent of them went on to become Rhodes Scholars and eighty-five percent became FBI agents. There are no statistics indicating how many of the men became healthy and well-adjusted adults who just happen to be gay. People like James Turley are taking steps to help all boys become successful adults regardless of with whom they might one day fall in love.
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