David Steakley and his family have been like our extended family for the past 26 years, since shortly after we moved to Framingham. We have watched Dave grow up, and we attended his Eagle Scout ceremony, as well as several other events, including his wedding last year.
Recently, Dave wrote an amazing letter to the Boy Scouts of America, and he gave me permission to post it on this blog. I hope it impresses you as much as it does me. Feel free to share it with your friends, because it carries a message that we should not ignore.
July 24, 2012
Boy Scouts of America
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079
To Bob Mazzuca, Wayne Brock and the Board
of Directors of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America,
name is David Steakley and I am writing to implore that you to reconsider
your recent decision to continue to ban the participation of gay youth and
adult leaders from Scouting.
I earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2003
with Troop 78 in Framingham, Massachusetts and the Knox Trail Council. I was
a member of the Order of the Arrow, worked as a counselor for numerous
summers at my council’s summer camp, and was a very active scout for a number
of years. Scouting still occupies a cherished space in my life and I hope
someday to participate in scouting with my own children.
I am not gay,
but I am deeply troubled that an organization that acts as a force for good
in the lives of so many young men can actively choose to continue a punitive
and discriminatory policy. My experiences as a scout were some of the most
important moments in my life. These experiences helped to mold me into the
confident, productive adult and citizen of the community, the nation and
the world that I am today. Above all, I learned that hard work and
difficult tasks in service of others is a noble goal, and that boys and men
must lead by example to make their communities a better place for
For these reasons, I cannot understand BSA’s decision to
deny these opportunities to boys and families solely based on their
sexual orientation. The BSA promotes diversity and makes space for
everyone in all other areas; why not this one? Every merit badge book
inclusively pictures boys of every race. It would be laughable to exclude
boys or their families based on race or religion. It is similarly absurd to
exclude them based on whom they love.
The BSA prides itself on fostering
the ethic of service for the good of the community. What better example
could the adult men in charge of the BSA demonstrate then by making the hard
choice of helping these boys and their families find acceptance in the same
way as everyone else? Certain members of the community will not
be comfortable with this policy change, but change and personal growth are
often uncomfortable. The results, however, are worth it. The Scout Oath
says, “On my honor I will do my best …to help other people at all times”.
Scouting should act as a leader encouraging its participants to become better
people and to grow, not allow them to hide behind an institutional policy
that discriminates against its own members to escape that growth. If this
policy were to change tomorrow a new generation of boys would grow up to
learn that gay men and women are no different than their peers. The BSA
could again be a driver of meaningful social change in America.
taking a pragmatic approach, I pose these questions: Will the BSA find itself
on the right side of history with this choice? How will you reflect on this
policy in 15 or 20 years? Will you be proud that you stood in the way of
social progress and made the lives of these boys and their families more
difficult than they already were? It is obvious that with time the public
will rightly come to accept that gay people deserve to be treated with
equity. Rather than standing in the way of this change why not embrace it and
be on the morally just side of history and known as an organization that can
be counted on for true social leadership. The real morally straight position
on this issue is to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person,
regardless of sexual orientation.
Please do the right thing and
reevaluate this policy as scouts, adults, and leaders of
With hope for change,