Calling for equality in the Boy Scouts

Alessandro Tinonga, a former Eagle Scout, explains in an open letter to the Boy Scouts of America why he wants the group to drop its homophobic policies.

To whom it may concern:

My name is Alessandro Tinonga, and I'm an Eagle Scout. I was active in Troop 6 of Piedmont Council of California, and received my award in 2002.

I can say with absolute certainty that the Boy Scouts of America helped me gain a wealth of knowledge and experience. Scouting made me appreciate the great outdoors and teamwork, and trained me to become disciplined and handle responsibility. Furthermore, I learned the value of actively engaging in my community. I will be eternally grateful to the Boy Scouts of America for producing such a wonderful program that positively shaped my life.

In the years since receiving my award, I have become increasingly alarmed at the ongoing homophobic policies of the Boy Scouts of America. Any person who wants to join the organization should not be barred, or expelled, due to their sexual orientation. Such a policy is homophobic and discriminatory, and is therefore hateful and against the values that BSA works to instill in its own Scouts.

All Scouts take an oath that they will "help other people at all times" and be "morally straight." Policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) persons betrays the Scout oath. In fact, it is disgusting that the homophobic policies have lasted so long.

I demand that the Boy Scouts of America accept persons that identify as LGBTI, whether those individuals want to join or are currently members/leaders. Discrimination validates the bigotry against our LGBTI friends as well as oppresses our fellow Scouts who are forced to stay in the closet.

If the Boy Scouts of America does not drop its homophobic policies, then I will no longer be able to associate myself with the BSA, and I would like to hand back my Eagle Scout award. I do not have the honor to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersexed, but I refuse to be connected to an organization that will not accept my friends or neighbors because of who they choose to love, or how they live their lives.

The Boy Scouts of America did the right thing by granting Ryan Andresen his Eagle Scout award, despite the refusal of his Scoutmaster to do so when he learned of Andresen's sexual orientation. Do the right thing and take the next step by ending all discriminatory policies in effect at the Boy Scouts of America. I would then once again be proud to be a Boy Scout.

Sincerely,
Alessandro
Eagle Scout 2002
Troop Six, Piedmont Council
Piedmont, California

First published at http://agitatedalessandro.blogspot.com/.