For a majority of my short life, I was a Boy Scout. I started young, when I was in second grade, asking my parents if I could join Cub Scouts, because they had a presentation at my elementary school and it looked really cool. When I was going into sixth grade, I bridged over into Boy Scouts. I wore the uniform, learned the Scout Oath and Law, sold popcorn and hoagies, volunteered my time to help other scouts with their Eagle Scout projects, made friends, became Senior Patrol Leader, and even went to Philmont. However, I ran out of time when it came for me to try to earn my Eagle Scout award; the most prestigious award in Boy Scouts, and it's a pretty big deal if you put it on your resumé.
Then I heard about Ryan Andresen, the Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle Scout award because he just so happened to come out of the closet. Not only that, but they denied him the ability to be a Boy Scout.
The Boy Scouts of America are, in fact, a private, non-profit organization. That's how they avoided the whole "we only let boys be Boy Scouts" lawsuit in the '90's. They don't allow openly homosexual and/or athiest men, women, or scouts to have anything to do with their organization. Many people argue that the Boy Scouts have a right to descriminate who is a member, and in a way, they're right.
But if Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle Scout because he was black, it would be a whole different matter.
It shouldn't be. I was a scout for ten years of my life, and I never judged anyone I was scouts with on their skin color, and when we reached that age where sexual orientation started to become relevant, I never really cared who anyone in my troop went out with. It wasn't my place to question it.
To a degree, banishing those who are homosexual from Boy Scouts isn't a bad idea. However, it shows the narrow-mindedness and lack of understanding of those who are gay that permiates the Boy Scouts to the highest level of leadership. The oldest you can be a scout is seventeen; during high school, you're still trying to figure yourself out--it's rare that a scout knows he's gay. Ryan was seventeen when he came out, and by then, Scouts are mature enough to a) realize that not everyone is gay and b) that it's not good to be openly gay in Boy Scouts.
Still, BSA said "Oh well" and said that Ryan can't complete Scout's "Duty to God" while being gay. Unless BSA's "Duty to God" involves sleeping with women (there's a large part of me that doubts that), then being gay won't interfere with being Reverent, the 12th Law of BSA.
(Literally, being Reverent means you believe in a religion, not Boy Scout's religion. There are plenty of religions that accept gay members.)
With the Boy Scouts bigotry twoards homosexuals, UPS announced that they're pulling their funding to BSA. The article about Ryan Andresen states that many Eagle Scouts have returned their badges and membership to BSA (while, at the same time, many haven't and supported the BSA). If I had my Eagle Scout Award, I would have done the same thing.
I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support the Boy Scouts if they treat scouts and leaders the way they have been. I have friends who are bisexual or gay. The only thing different about them is the person they choose to go out with. Being gay doesn't stop a man or woman from living their lives with the Twelve Points of the Scout Law in their life. Right now, the only thing it does stop is you from being a Boy Scout. And that is sad.