A Letter to the Boy Scouts of America


July, 2000

Steve Barnes, Scout Executive
San Francisco Bay Area Council
Boy Scouts of America
1001 Davis
San Leandro, CA 94577

Dear Mr. Barnes:

Enclosed you will find what was at one time one of the treasures of my life - my Eagle Scout Medal. It was pinned on my chest by my late mother, Alice Huff, on the stage of a public park in a small city in Oklahoma in 1943 when I was a fifteen year old lad. While this medal was once a precious symbol of how much scouting meant to my personal growth and development as a young man, I am now returning it to the Boy Scouts of America because I can no longer acknowledge any ties with the scouting movement due to its now court sanctioned discrimination against those who acknowledge themselves to be gay.

My own record and experience as a Boy Scout in addition to the Eagle award with a Gold Palm, included earning 34 merit badges and reaching the rank of Junior Assistant Scoutmaster during my late teen years. I spent part of two summers in northern New Mexico in glorious camping experiences at Philmont Scout Ranch. Scouting's influence on my development as a young man was second only to that of my church and family and no doubt even contributed to my calling to become a Presbyterian minister.

Yet now, frankly I am appalled at the gap between the values I received as a scout and a scout leader over fifty years ago and the current twisted notion of what the phrase "morally straight" has long referred to in scouting. I was not taught by scoutmasters of former years, even in Oklahoma in the 40s, that morality and intolerance could be joined. As Seven Cozza of Petaluma, California has said so eloquently, "to be morally straight means to live by your values, to be true to yourself. It has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation".

So it is with great disappointment and sorrow that I make this symbolic gesture both to demonstrate my protest of the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts of America and to affirm my solidarity with all gay men affected by those policies.

(Rev.) Gene Huff, San Francisco, California

Web publication of this document provided by the Interfaith Working Group Online