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    Posted August 17, 2012 by
    DeLand, Florida

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    An Open Letter to the Boy Scouts of America


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     JessHath wrote and sent this letter to the Cub Scout division of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday night, after notifying her local pack that her boys wouldn't be participating in scouting anymore because of the organization's decision to continuing excluding openly gay boys from membership and openly gay adults from serving as leaders (See CNN.com article here).

    She told us, 'I don't expect that the Boy Scouts are going to care that I'm gone or change their minds, but I would like for there to be lots and lots and lots of stories out there of people who have stepped away from scouting because of that position. I want any boy or parent affected by this decision to know that there are people who support them.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Our family recently made the difficult decision to leave the Boy Scouts of America due to their continued policy of excluding gays. Following is my letter to the organization:

    I am the mother of three boys, ages 9 (bear scout), 6 (tiger cub), and three. I have a brother that is an Eagle scout, and my father was very active in his troop while I was growing up. I am heartbroken tonight because my family has made the very difficult decision to leave scouting. I don't see how I can possibly raise my boys within the BSA organization at this point. I was going to be the tiger den leader this year, and I was so excited to do so. My husband has assisted my eldest son's den since he first joined scouting. We had a family conversation on our way hiking up to the summit of one of New York State's great high peaks, with my husband and I expressing our concerns over the fact that our kids and our family might be able to join the scouts, but there are others who are excluded over their sexuality. Both of the older boys were very upset, the oldest worrying that this means he will never get his arrow of light, or his Eagle... the younger concerned that we would not get our special time in scouts with me as his den leader. He has wanted to be a tiger since the first day he heard about it. We even bought his tiger cub uniform and book first thing this summer. When we explained our concerns to the boys, they couldn't understand why we wanted to leave, since none of us are gay. But that is precisely the point: how can I in good conscience allow my children to be conditioned to stand by while others around them are excluded or oppressed? By staying in the scouts, we would send a message that it is fine to stand by as a school bully attacks a classmate, a husband beats his wife, as women are kept out of schools in the developing world, as humans are enslaved, or as gay families are left out of normal activities in what is supposed to be a great nation. Worse yet, what if one of my wonderful, beautiful, boys is gay as a young adult? Will he have to give back his Eagle award, or just hide who he is to keep it? Will he be removed from a leadership position in his troop? These thoughts are too much to bear, and yet there are boys and families dealing with that exact situation every day in America thanks to your current policy. We joined scouts feeling certain that an organization so concerned with doing "right" would get this one figured out. But then this summer you reaffirmed the gay exclusion policy, and my heart broke.

    Please don't think this means I believe you should be forced by our government to include gays. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I support the BSA in its constitutional right to conduct its private business as it sees fit. I certainly hope federal money, if there is any, goes away, but I am sure the wealthy and successful scout alumni will take care of the BSA. My point is: Just because you CAN be a bigoted organization... SHOULD you be? Just as you have a right to set your organizational standards, my family has a right... maybe even an obligation, to stand up for what we think is morally correct. I don't know if other scout families struggle with this or not. I have heard a lot of talk about "fighting from within". What does this mean exactly? Place pink triangle neckerchiefs on the boys? Gay pride colors added to the pack flag? I don't see how anything will change if families like mine continue to give time and money to a group with such good intentions but such a flawed take on what it means to raise our children properly. The gay agenda? It's the same as yours and mine. My gay friends want to love their husbands and wives in the states where they are lucky enough to have them. They want to be faithful to their partners where they are not allowed to marry. And most importantly, they would love to raise their kids, who are loved beyond belief, without fear of judgement by others wearing a veil of morality. Enough is enough. I really expected the BSA to take the lead on this one, and my disappointment will likely not fade quickly. Even though we were a great scouting family, I am not naive enough to think the BSA will miss us. But I can promise you there will be three boys better off for not having stood by silently while their peers were excluded based on who they, or their parents, are in love with.

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