The national office of the Boy Scouts of America has taken the unprecedented step of reversing a local council’s Eagle award decision, officially denying Ryan Andresen the rank on the grounds that he is gay.
Advancement in the Boy Scouts is essentially automatic up until Eagle; you do your merit pages and whatnot, reach the requisite time in the prior rank, and you get promoted. Eagle is different; you have to complete a significant service project, and then go before a (local to your troop) committee for review. I always saw this step as a final check, so to speak, to avoid promoting fairweather Eagles not actually committed to scouting — resume padders or people otherwise unfit at the character level, I guess. My own committee had only one person on it other than my scoutmaster, if I recall correctly, but other councils may do it differently. In any case, it is that body whose decision is final. They forward the paperwork to some office, and your Eagle kit comes back to be awarded at the next Court of Honor.
That BSA would rescind the decision of a local council here is enormous, and it shows precisely how much of a pawn of right-wing interests the group has become — and makes it clear that cries of “well, it’s just the national office that’s bigoted; my local group is fine!” are misguided. That the Mormon church is the single largest supporter of Scouting is a major part of this problem.
It’s a damn shame. My experience with Scouting in the middle 1980s was formative and valuable. There are no mini-Heathen to steer away from it, but the overt, bigoted, rightward trend has absolutely kept me from volunteering my time with local scouting groups, which is something I always thought I’d be happy to do. I certainly never thought I’d feel the level of shame for their behavior that I do now. Dammit, I’m from Mississippi; I don’t need another group acting all stupid for me to be ashamed of — magnolia-tinged shenanigans take up enough of my head-shaking as it is.