One Buckhead gallery curator has returned his hard-earned Eagle Scout badges to the Boy Scouts in a movement to get the organization to lift its ban of gay leaders and members.
For the last 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America have banned gays from joining their ranks. On Feb. 6, the organization announced that it would delay until May its decision to either continue enforcing the ban or to admit gays, which has sparked both outrage and praise from parents and those involved with Scouts.
Kenneth Hosley, the managing curator at Buckhead's Grey Parrot Gallery, told local news outlets he was kicked out of an Atlanta-area Boy Scout troop after he announced that he was gay.
"To be wrenched away from something that I thought would be part of my life forever, it is difficult to describe," Hosley told WSB-TV. He was a member of the Boy Scouts, going on to become an Eagle Scout, for 18 years before writing a letter to the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts identifying himself as a gay man.
Hosley joined a group of other Eagle Scouts, both gay and straight, and returned his badges as an act of protest against the Boy Scouts' continued barring of gays from leadership and membership roles.
In his letter, Hosley wrote:
...scouting is a second family to me through which I have met my closest friends and discovered my greatest mentors. It is for this reason that I am in such pain to continue this letter. I fully understand the consequence I will face because of what I will disclose, but it is because of my love for this organization that I pray it will change and stop setting an example of family values that include prejudice, hate, abuse, and intolerance; and instead return to the original values Scouting professed in the Scout Law: to be “Courteous,” “Kind,” “Cheerful,” “Friendly,” and above all “Brave” enough to honestly see the damage that is being done today by the stance it takes....
In my years, I have seen these same religious leaders, fathers in scouting, who claim such high Christian values such as charity and compassion, turn around and deny their own sons...
Why do you fear us, the homosexual scouts of the BSA, so much?...Do you realize the damage that is done to a boy, who upon discovering that he is gay, is taught that he is not worthy of love, or even considered a normal human being, let alone a scout?
Hosley describes himself on his Facebook page as "a deeply spiritual person, devoted to restoring the practices of contemplative spirituality within the Church." He said he is "an urban monk" and the head of the Order of Saint Anthony, O.P.C. and believes the organization's ban should be lifted.
"It does not support the bravery that some Scouts have for being who they are. It forces them to hide because of the abusive, manipulative behavior we have within the organization," Hosley told CBS Atlanta.
Non-religious-affiliated donors have vocalized to the BSA that they will pull funding of the organization if the ban continues.
Many others who sponsor Boy Scouts and say they're Christian want the ban to remain.
What do you think? Should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gay members and leaders? Tell us in the comments below.
While the Boy Scouts' national executive board deliberated changes to allow gays for three days at the organization's headquarters, hundreds supporters rallied outside with signs that read "Don't invite sin into the camp" and "Homosexuality is a sin! BSA please resist Satan's test. Uphold the ban."
Reports, such as this one from the Associated Press, show that about 70 percent of all Boy Scouts are sponsored by religious denominations, which could completely gut the organization if they decide not to renew their sponsorships. This post from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that Mormons sponsor the most Boy Scouts in the nation, followed by Methodists and then Catholics– all three groups have traditionally supported the ban on gays in the organization because it lines up with their religious doctrine that homosexuality is a sin.
The Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts released the following statement:
"While the National Board continues its discussions, I promise that the Atlanta Area Council will continue to provide the best Scouting program to as many youth in Atlanta as possible. This is an important and complex national issue, but we cannot allow a policy debate to negatively impact the quality of the program we deliver to our Scouts. They are counting on us."
Hosley ended his letter to the Atlanta Area Council with this, "As Lord Baden Powell said, 'Once a scout, always a scout.' He said this without any restrictions. I am a scout. Whether or not the Boy Scouts of America will continue to acknowledge this is up to you. "