FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — For 19-year-old Garrett Bryant, a Boy Scout since he was a small boy, summers meant Boy Scout Camps, and this year, a job to help pay his college tuition — that is, until a “relationship” status on Facebook forever altered his plans and his affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
Bryant, who is gay, needed to keep his sexual orientation private due to his involvement with the Boy Scouts, whose official policy bans openly gay men and women from serving in adult leadership positions.
The Arizona resident told LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday that earlier this year he’d posted — in his words — a “gender neutral relationship status change” on his Facebook page.
When he returned to Facebook the following morning, Bryant was confronted with the realization that the secret he had been keeping from the Boy Scouts, but not his close inner circle of friends, had become public.
Fear gripped Bryant as he stared at the innocent and supportive comments from close friends: “Awesome man, who is he?” and “Oh, good for you, man, what’s his name?”
Bryant said he deleted any posts that referenced his orientation and hoped that his scouting friends and BSA leadership hadn’t seen the comments.
But not long after, Bryant said the first sign of trouble came when he called a friend to see about his application to work at BSA’s Camp Geronimo, located 90 miles northeast of Phoenix, where he had worked the previous summer. He said that instead of getting confirmation he was going to be employed again he was told he needed to speak with the camp’s director.
“I asked him what he meant by that and he said ‘the homosexuality’ and then referred to the Facebook posts,” he said.
Bryant, who has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, said that being denied the job in an organization he loves is a crushing blow.
“Scouting is amazing, it teaches us to be leaders and it should be open to everyone,” he said. “They should let everyone lead.”
For Bryant, the ban doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law, “ he said, quoting the BSA Vision statement. “That’s what I was prepared to do, with my life. Be a leader. I kept my sexual orientation private.”
He said that he considers his scouting friends and BSA leaders his “other family” and noted that since he was outed, he’s received tremendous support from them without a single negative remark. One friend even offered to resign from scouting.
But Bryant is preparing to move forward.
He said his family has been extremely supportive. “I told my Mom last August in an elevator at her job that I was gay and she just said oh?”
His mother and friends are helping him establish an Arizona chapter of Scouts For Equality, a national organization that advocates for gay Scouts and works to end the BSA’s ban on openly gay scout leaders.
“A policy of discrimination at any level results in the sort of fear we see at work in the Scouts’ ouster of Garrett. Garrett is an exemplary Scout who should be rehired immediately.” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.
A spokesperson at BSA’s national headquarters told LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday that Bryant’s situation is a private employment matter and that the organization would not offer a comment.