Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 13, 2013

Gay Scout refutes letter

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — This week the Boy Scouts of America’s Board of Directors delayed their vote on changing its membership policy to allow gays and lesbians.  As an Eagle Scout, I am disappointed that changing this discriminatory policy was delayed, but I am certain of its eventual passage.  And while a policy shift at the May meeting would result in progress, it would be quite different from an equally important cultural shift as evidenced by Tamra Bolton’s letters to the editor.

 In responding to Ms. Bolton’s letters, it’s hard to know where to begin. Instead of easily debunking each letter point by point, I would like to acknowledge that it must be scary for her and likeminded individuals to realize they are living in a world that is becoming more fully attuned to the Boy Scout spirit, character, and, yes, oath. I can’t imagine what it must feel like for someone to know the world’s expanding sense of equality and fairness will soon eclipse their long-held beliefs.  This fear is manifested in Ms. Bolton’s letter by an excessive amount of quotation marks around words that do not need them.  There are no ‘gay’ youth.  There are gay youth.  The lesbian mother is not a ‘lady.’  The lesbian mother is a lady.  Perhaps this defensive convention comforts Ms. Bolton by pretending that this population does not really exist in scouting, but I can assure her that it does.  There are gay scouts.  There are lesbian leaders.  And by lifting the membership ban, it just allows them to be honest and fully present in an organization they dearly love.

 Whether the BSA’s membership policy is changed in May or not, it will one day have to change.  A Quinnipiac poll out this week shows that 55 percent of Americans believe that the ban should be lifted.  That number will only grow.  I know it.  The BSA board knows it.  Ms. Bolton knows it.

 Until such time and because words have consequences, it’s important to counteract the negative.  To all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth who are reading this – yes, even in Jacksonville – know that you are creatures of immense value no matter what you read in newspapers, experience at school, or hear from the pulpits.  Hateful and inflammatory voices often get the spotlight, but know that they are desperate cries of a people who know they are losing the battle.  And though it may seem like they are the only voices out there, know that there exists a loving community who accepts you for you.  And with great pride, I’ve been heartened over the past week to see that such a loving community exists right there in Jacksonville, Texas.

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


Andrew Phifer

Proud Gay Eagle Scout