After growing up as part of the Boy Scouts of America, August Easton-Calabriaand and his identical twin brother, Liam, reached the rank of Eagle Scout last year.
But now that they have turned 18, the BSA is forcing them to take different paths because Liam is gay.
August has launched a Change.org petition asking the BSA to end its policy which does not allow someone who is openly gay to participate in the organization once they turn 18.
‘In the eyes of the BSA, I am worthy to share Scouting with my children, but he is not,’ August writes. ‘This heartbreaking consequence for Liam, me, and our parents goes against all I learned in Scouting.’
The twins father served as one of their assistant scoutmasters and was part of BSA all his life.
‘Liam took on the responsibility of Patrol Leader at age 14,’ the brother points out. ‘After two years, the Scouts in our Troop elected Liam as their Senior Patrol Leader. He earned the admiration and loyalty of our fellow Scouts because of his integrity. The fact that Liam is gay did not affect his relationship with anyone. It has nothing to do with the content of his character.’
The petition, which has received more than 17,500 supporters in just one day, urges the Board of the Chief Seattle Council to declare its support for ending the BSA’s anti-gay membership policy.
The petition states: ‘This policy undermines the important work of the BSA. It diminishes the BSA’s reputation, membership and fundraising. … All Scouts deserve an equal chance to continue their service to Scouting. All parents deserve an equal chance to be a part of their son’s Scouting experience.’
Among those who have signed the petition are Ohio resident Bill Houston who became an Eagle Scout in 1944.
‘I think it’s important to remove all vestiges of homophobia in the scouting movement,’ Houston wrote.
Virginia resident Heather McPhail wrote: ‘We don’t forbid (straight) men from coaching girls’ sports team. We all tacitly, as well as legally, agree that these men should not engage in any sexual conduct toward the girls they coach.’
Connecticut resident Fawn Nebinger wrote: ‘It is a shame, since most of the other things that’s the scouts teach are wonderful. Unfortunately, as long as bigotry is integrated into the scouts they will always remind me of the Hitler Youth.’