Ten years with America’s scouting movement came to an abrupt end for a 19 year old Missourian on Sunday when he was stripped of his rank of Eagle Scout and fired from his summer camp job, simply because he came out as gay.
Courageous and dedicated Eric Jones of Kearney, Missouri, told the director of Camp Geiger that he is gay on Sunday – something which is in contravention of the homophobic and anti gay organization’s membership rules for both scouts and scout leaders.
Eric joined the Boy Scouts in second grade and had taken a decade to rise to the rank of Eagle Scout and earn a job at the Scout’s Camp Geiger. He told the local news in Kansas City that the scouting movement had made him who he was, and that its ethics had informed his decision to come out but said the organization needed to change. ‘Everything in the scout oath, everything is [about] standing up for what’s right,’ Jones said. ‘This is an organization that is focused on middle school and high school and to tell [gay kids] that they have to hide who they are of course puts even more stress on them, imagine if this was your child or a neighbor, a close friend that was going through this.’
Jones said the camp director told him he deserved to remain with the organization, but because of the Boy Scouts of America’s rules, he had to tell him to go. ‘In my mind I thought that I had proven myself as a scout and as an employee that I almost thought that maybe they won’t affect it, that that wouldn’t matter, that I had proven myself,’ Jones said.
The Boy Scout’s of America’s gay ban has attracted controversy but was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2000, which found the organization to be exempt from state anti-discrimination laws. There are plans to take another case against them to the supreme court early next year in view of a more liberated and open society.
Many gay groups are calling for a boycott of all Scout Organisation products, fund raising activities or work programmes. Many are also calling for owners of camps and businesses that supply the Scouts to withhold services and sites.