Senior Patrol Leaders Brian Latimer, pictured on the left, and Guillermo Avila, right, at their Eagle Boy Scout swearing in ceremony. (Photo Courtesy/ Isabelle Latimer)

Opinion: Boy Scouts of America vote on gay members is the beginning of revolutionary change

I was in the middle of a study lounge when I leapt from my seat and stifled a cheer under the glare of fellow college students upon seeing an email saying the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were considering allowing gay members.

This mustn’t be true. BSA was so adamantly opposed to repealing the law last July. Seeing people successfully change what seemed like a permanent policy is invigorating.

Had this happened five years ago, I surely would have had more friends in high school. I wouldn’t have had to constantly conceal myself and break ties with people who got too close to me. As soon as I deemed someone untrustworthy, I ran away. Perhaps I would have studied more often instead of perusing social media trying to figure out the best way to remain in the closet.

Working on building a roof for my Eagle Scout project two years ago. From left to right: My brother Daniel, my close friend Michael Lindle, scout William Garner, myself, and my scoutmaster Bill Gentillello.

Working on building a roof for my Eagle Scout project two years ago. From left to right: My brother Daniel, my close friend Michael Lindle, scout William Garner, myself, and my scoutmaster Bill Gentillello. (Photo Courtesy/ Isabelle Latimer)

What about my family? To be frank, my relationship with my family has not changed since I came out, but I like to imagine what my life would have been like. My conclusion is we would have had fewer awkward silences in the car when my father commented on my relationship with my lady friends who were just my lady friends. My improv skills would have also suffered simply because I wouldn’t have had to invent a story for my grandfather about my experiences with women.

But I know my time in the Boy Scouts would have been exactly the same. I would have still slept in a tent in the middle of winter. I would have still sliced my finger open using a flint and steel. Most of all, I would still be the same, responsible, hard-working, never-tiring person I am today.

No official changes have been made to the protocol, but the prospect of allowing queer men and women to benefit from the Boy Scout experience is elating.

Then again, though the ban may be lifted on a national level, sponsors still have the freedom to exclude and expel an openly gay scout, parent, or leader. Not all sponsors support allowing openly gay members in scouts so families will have to find the cookie-cutter Boy Scout troop tailored to their beliefs.

But the Boy Scouts of America is about facilitating bonds between scouts and the community. What will happen when two scout troops with conflicting views need to work on the same project? This dichotomy will hurt the organization by emphasizing the differences between fundamentalist and the welcoming groups. The Boy Scouts of America needs to stay together so my children can join.

As a gay Eagle Scout, I call for a repeal of the policy so that one day I may lead scouts on a path of loyalty and bravery.

During my tenure with the Boy Scouts the leaders taught me to embrace all other scouts and work with them as a team. The only difference between my troop in New Jersey suburbia and one in Arizona depends on the proximity and feasibility of different trips like white water rafting or ice climbing.

All scout troops work towards a goal of churning out environmentally conscious, empathetic, prepared members of society capable of dramatically changing the world for the better. I’ve never met an Eagle Scout who didn’t stand up straight and leave a lasting impression his peers.

I am still comforted to hear about BSA’s announcement because it is the beginning of a revolutionary change. Unfortunately this is just a temporary fix that will create fissures between troops and disrupt the focus of Boy Scouts. BSA must rip this Band-Aid off once and for all and allow all people to participate despite their nationality, race, gender, and sexuality to preserve the future of the organization.

Brian Latimer was a summer intern at in 2012. 

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