• Return to sender

    by Tom McMasters-Stone

    August 22, 2012

    Boy Scouts of America
    1325 Walnut Hill Lane
    P.O. Box 152079
    Irving, Texas 75015-2079

    Dear Sirs:

    Enclosed you will find my Eagle Scout badge, earned over 40 years ago. While it breaks my heart to return it, it does not break my heart as much as your current policy on not admitting gays to membership and leadership positions in Scouting.

    If/when you change your policies, I would gratefully accept it back. That Court of Honor had been one of the proudest days of my life, but that is no longer the case.

    It is 2012, and we clearly know that gay people are born that way, that it’s a case of nature and not nurture. Your policy on gays thereby becomes the same thing as, say, not admitting African Americans, Hispanics, or American Indians.

    In case you didn’t know it, you already have many gays in the Boy Scouts, they are just forced to live a lie.

    Despite the fact that it is 2012, gays and lesbians are still mistreated, abused, and even killed for their sexual orientation. It’s in the news every day.

    Young gay men would greatly benefit from the Scouting experience, and it would create a better world of tolerance and understanding as well.

    The Boy Scouts is a vigilant organization, and has become even more so over the years. Despite that, you have had your share of scandals. Certainly, having gay boys reaching puberty together will require the same vigilance, and could sometimes be problematic, but the benefits to literally hundreds of thousands of potential members far outweigh the risks.

    Rather than shy away from the issue, the Boy Scouts should be taking the lead on it! Sure you will lose some sponsors, and maybe even some members, but you will gain other, new ones that don’t currently participate.

    Trustworthy. Loyal. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. Kind. Obedient. Cheerful. Thrifty. Brave. Clean. Reverent.

    I remember it now as well as I did when I learned it almost 50 years ago.

    Too bad you have forgotten it.

    Thomas J. McMasters-Stone

    • Great letter, Tom!

      • Debbie

      • September 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm
      • Reply

      So the question is, did they respond? Or were they unprepared for you?

    • There is an amazing article, front page of the LA Times today talking about all the cases or abuse from scout leaders who were hidden and covered up since the early 1900’s. Amazing story if you get a chance to read it.
      I would love to hear what they wrote back.

      • Matt Najmowicz

      • September 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm
      • Reply

      As a former Boy Scout myself, it is truly a shame that BSA still has this sort of social attitude still. I am totally with you in this Tom. It’s a real damn shame.

      • Joe

      • September 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm
      • Reply

      Way to go Tom. You’re the best.

      • Kelvin

      • September 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm
      • Reply

      Awesome. Direct and to the point. The Girl Scouts and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America don’t have such a discriminatory policy and I hope the Boy Scouts realizes what good they could be doing if they welcomed everyone. Kudos to you for doing this, Tom.

      • Hollye Dexter

      • September 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for this. I have two gay brothers – this means a lot to me.

      • Gary

      • September 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm
      • Reply

      This was always a point of contention between my ex and I. I flat out refused to participate in any of my son’s boy scout activities because of their position on homosexuals.

      My ex actually tried to use this against me in a declaration filed in court when she was trying to seek sole custody of my children. She claimed that I actively tried to make my son feel bad about being in boy scouts, which was not true.

      In my responsive declaration, I countered that I could not actively help my children participate in acitivities that were organized by individuals who seek to segregate or prohibit membership based on non-threatening lifestyle choices. While I would not interfere with my child’s desires, I argued it was in my children’s best interests to provide them a contrasting perspective that advocated equal rights and tolerance and provide an example of someone who was willing to stand up for those beliefs.

      I submitted that argument with the court on 2010. Sole custody was not awarded to my ex.

      • Norbie Kumagai

      • September 19, 2012 at 8:48 am
      • Reply

      If The Boy Scouts of America spent thousand of dollars ensuring that young boys are safe and protected against adult predators in the program, rather than to use the money to support discrimination, we wouldn’t see such stories as was referenced in The Los Angeles Times over the weekend.

      I have always been deeply humbled to consider you a dear friend Mr. McMasters-Stone. Glad You’re Back!!!

      • Bob Schneider

      • September 19, 2012 at 9:26 am
      • Reply

      Thank you Tom for this well written and reasoned letter. I thank you for your courage and commitment. I too greatly value being an Eagle Scout and share your sadness over the BSA current descrimination of gay youth. It is a tragedy and hateful. It is well known that the Morman Church looked to the Boy Scouts to help train their young boys. That is fine, but they brought with them their intolerance and descriminatory policies towards gays that is now found in the BSA. On another note, they did not want their young woman to share this indepence and do did not use the Girl Scouts in a similar manner. And, the Girl Scouts do not share this descrimination toward gays.

      • Tom

      • September 23, 2012 at 11:42 am
      • Reply

      Thank you all- I have not heard anything yet!

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