Bob Paxton, a Circle Sanctuary Minister, has joined a growing protest by Eagle Scouts who oppose the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) policy that prohibit GLTB adult leaders. On July 17, after a two-year review by an 11 person committee, the BSA reached a “unanimous consensus” recommending retaining the current policy of GLBT exclusion. The Boy Scouts are a civil and spiritual organization aimed at building the character of youths age 11 – 17. The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts and has been earned by less than 2 million young men since the program began in 1911 due to the commitment and difficulty involved.
In response to the decision by the BSA to maintain its current policies regarding GLBT members, Rev. Paxton sent a letter to the BSA Executive Board asking them to reconsider the policy. He also included his Eagle Scout medal, a move other Eagle Scouts are also taking. The letter, in part, reads,
Today I am returning my Eagle Scout medal as it has become a badge of shame. Until the day comes that the Boy Scouts of America fully act on their instruction to be “morally straight” – and to welcome all boys – I can only recommend that boys go elsewhere for those powerful formative experiences.
Quotes from the 11 minute interview:
“I can say that as a Pagan my experience as a Boy Scout directly lead to my choosing the Pagan spiritual path. Experience that I had in the woods, experiences I had in summer camps, experiences I had in some of the ceremonial occasions very much led me in that direction.”
“As not only a minister but as a person who has a lot of gay friends and also who also received a lot of homophobic bullying at the hands of other folks in my troop I felt that by reinforcing on a national level the policy that gays, lesbians, transgender folks are not OK, are not acceptable within the Boy Scout approach that really they were ratifying that two level behavior that allowed a lot of that homophobic bullying that I and others in my troop experienced.”
“We are hoping to accomplish, not only by sending the letters but by publicly sending the letters a public shaming such that if nothing else it’s my hope that down in Irving, Texas as these letters and these medals come in with the mail delivery every day that somebody opens them up, puts them on a table, and takes a look at this and says, “You know, something’s wrong here. We have to do something else. People that we nurtured up to the verge of manhood are coming back to us now from 10, 20, 30, 50 years and saying no, you can’t be like this.” If that doesn’t stand a chance of changing their hearts, I don’t know what will.”
A full transcript of the interview is forthcoming.