ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A 19-year-old Eagle Scout has been terminated from his summer employment as a summer camp counselor at a Missouri-based Boy Scouts summer camp after revealing that he is gay.
Eric Jones, who had been a member of the Boy Scouts of America since he was in elementary school, earning his way to the rank of Eagle Scout two years ago at the age of 17, was told to pack his bags and immediately leave Camp Geiger after he informed the camp’s director that he is gay.
Jones, whose encounter with the director was filmed as part of Ryan James Yezak’s new documentary, “Second Class Citizens,” told a local television station that, although he was aware of the Boy Scouts’ long-standing policy against gay scouts and scout leaders, he’d hoped the director “would overlook” his orientation, given that he’d been working at the camp for nearly five years.
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“I was asked to leave,” Jones said. “I was told to leave. Pack your things and go.”
Jones said the decision to come out was “definitely good for me.”
“I’m generally happy,” he said. “But most importantly, I feel discriminated. I’d been working on coming out. I thought it was time to have my life of scouting and my other life come together,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its anti-gay policy, and said that a confidential two-year review conducted by an 11-member special committee and formed “discreetly” by top Scout leaders in 2010, concluded that the policy prohibiting gay scouts was “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.”
“With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
“These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance,” said Griffin.
Herndon Graddick, President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), echoed Griffin’s statement:
“Until this ban is lifted, the Scouts are putting parents in a situation where they have to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are being turned away simply because of who they are,” he said.
“It’s unfair policies like this that contribute to a climate of bullying in our schools and communities. Since when is that a value worth teaching young adults?”
Jones said that part of living up to the Scout oath he took many years ago meant he needed to be open about who he is.