Transcript for Gay Eagle Scout Fights For Policy Change
The boy scouts of America is about to make a monumental decision allowing gay youth as members and one man James Dale certainly has raised national attention to this issue he's a former eagle scout. Who had its membership stripped because he's gay and as a result he filed suit against the organization. In his US now to talk about that change thanks for being with us you and so tell me a little bit about how your suit really -- the attention for the boy scouts' policy. Sure in 1991. I was nineteen years old I was an assistant scoutmaster. My troop and -- on New Jersey. The Boy Scouts armed and was involved in the scouting program -- one -- to college. And in my second year I came out of the closet I was speaking at a conference on the needs of gay teenagers. As a result of that a local newspaper ran a story. And the Boy Scouts read about that and then basically expelled after that and a letter and said known homosexuals are not committed in the boy scouts of America. I'd never heard anything about discrimination and the Boy Scouts up until that point twelve years I'd never heard about -- so. On at that time I decided to file suit that is discriminated against me. That lasts about a decade and unanimous decision in the New Jersey Supreme Court. The voice -- appealed that the United States Supreme Court. And in 2000 a divided court ruled against me by one vote. And now the Boy Scouts are going to be voting with their board of 14100 leaders. As far as revising their policy. But where does -- stand and right now mean given the fact that there have been suits -- have been filed and they have reevaluated themselves. Sure -- Supreme Court gave them a right to discriminate it gave them a right to exclude gay children and gay adults from their program. -- -- voting on tomorrow is a proposal. To stop discriminating against children in the -- -- program to continue discriminating. And essentially teaching discrimination to everybody and scouting because there they find -- immoral and -- clean and that was their defense. To the United States supreme. -- so essentially you can have. You can have gay scouts you can't have gay scout leaders or anyone over the age of eighteen that's correct that's what they'll be voting on tomorrow which of which of course. It's still -- hardly damning and destructive message that they're gonna send to young people I think when kids are coming at a time and trying to figure who they are. They will go from you know celebrated eagle scout when they're seventeen years old. To basically not being welcome anymore once the clock strikes twelve and their eighteen years old so I think it's it's really not in the best interest of children I would hope that the Boy Scouts. Would just do with the right -- wants so you had your membership -- when you were nineteen. That's right OK tell me a little bit because I -- a -- and -- peace and an op Ed. About some of the the the emotional and and and and sort of the physical reaction that you had when you found out that this action was being taken against you because. It sounds as if the Boy Scouts really sort of helped guide you to become the person that you are it was a very influential and very instrumental part of your childhood. Of course setting growing up as a kid in the 1980s. As a gay kid and I don't know find the words for it back -- but I guess I felt different. The scouts -- place that was made to feel welcomed and accepted and it never was about discrimination it was never about sort of the smaller things about to the bigger ideals about being a person of good integrity and good character. Being honest and open so when I found out that the Boy Scouts are discriminated against me. For no other reason than just because I'm -- I was stunned I was stunned I was upset and so you never had any kind of experiences of any kind of discrimination structure entire scouting career -- and I tell them. Professional way I think you know I was in basketball and soccer and it was another kind of use -- clubs. And I found that the Boy Scouts one of the organizations that were the most welcoming and accepting. -- people. And they kind of celebrated their differences you didn't have to. Come and do things exactly the same way and scouting you could be a bit more. The past eagle scouts are many different ways to get theirs so. I found that it was a place that kind of welcome to me for who I was didn't try to make me be somebody other than who I was. How do you think they'll face as this -- become a more prevalent issue I think the face of the boy -- has this Boy Scouts has changed then. Not only reviewing this policy but with the types of new members that are coming in a type of of new scout leaders of whether or not they want to be associated with an organization. Sure they -- that's the sad thing that happened Supreme Court didn't look at. Sort of how the voice cuts represented themselves for hundred years they just looked -- who they want it to be. And the leadership of the organization 2000. Wanted to be on anti gay organization they wanted to exclude gay people. And essentially become something other than who they were when they were invented so I think it's very unfortunate that over the past thirteen years since the Supreme Court position. They've been emboldened to be anti -- and discriminatory I think a lot of people. Of that mindset have been attracted to the organization because in those thirteen years over 25% of the membership -- walked out the door. They've lost tremendous amount of funding over the as -- as well also I think if nothing else the Boy Scouts at this juncture. Are just trying to stop hemorrhaging and the loss of members in dollars from the organization. A personal of -- because it goes on that you obviously have have follow through a kind of legal standpoint but also an emotional standpoint what kind of a -- has that taken. Com but thinks this -- ninety's in the throes of the legal cases that I had going on it was a tremendous as a tremendously difficult thing to delisted to think that an organization. Could so quickly turn on you. And that so much of what you had done for that organization didn't matter. Because. You know they discovered one simple thing about who you are so -- -- for eight years old now I'm not I'm not particularly worried about. Where I am but I'm really more concerned about the damage they're doing to young people because not every kid when there eight. News their sexual orientation or when they're thirteen or fifteen. -- -- be a place -- -- comfortable enough to. Sort of understand who they are and however they are and not try to -- -- sort of a cookie cutter mold of the Boy Scouts -- of new ideas of morality. Did you ever have a sense of betrayal or as a sense of I don't honestly -- trust but. But but that all of these guidelines and all of this kind of this this direction that Jauron with the Boy Scouts and obviously setting those goals of becoming an eagle scout and and and and say those calling kinds of achievements the did the values seem to fall a lot of that once this happened you know. A lot of yes I think that and in many ways that -- felt betrayed by the organization but also I think that's for for every time that you know the voice cuts is. As a bureaucratic organization tremendously large organization. With millions of youth members I think that many people that were against this policy have kind of renewed my faith. I mean the Boy Scouts is just an organization -- that people in the organization and a kind of had a connection went to so many good people have fought this policy. Have left the organization. Have gone and done good work other places so is nothing else I think that. You know it wouldn't have been the way that would have planned my twenties to be fighting the Boy Scouts and to be talking about it. You know 23 years later now but I do think a lot of good has come out of that and if nothing else the conversation in the education if you just look at. Where we are now and 2013. It's kind of fascinating that the boy scouts of America are still so stuck -- -- -- they're willing to destroy the organization. Over some you know small minded values. It's well and -- wanted to ask you about that you know with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. -- increasing support for gay marriage we've been seeing these milestones occur have you been more encouraged by the fact that you think that the Boy Scouts will in fact change the policy altogether. And maybe even go beyond just allowing. Members but also allowing leaders as well. I mean I think that that's what they have to do because I think the policy they're they're considering now to allow gay children but not allow gay adults. Is not the right thing it's not gonna give them a free pass it's not gonna make the pressure go away. And the pressure isn't isn't from me it's from many different people -- all walks of life. But don't want to be associated with a group that discriminates it's just not where we are as a country anymore. On the majority of Americans are against them excluding gay adults even more than matter against discrimination against -- and in the voice that's really need to get with the times. And sort of not -- -- stuck in the past. Have you thought about what your reaction might be and I'm kind of for train out here but what your reaction might be in the event for the policy does it completely changed. I would be elated if tomorrow or whenever they totally do away with this policy I would be elated I think -- -- a wonderful thing. I think the Boy Scouts can go back to kind of where they once war where they were kind of my experience in scouting I think a lot of people. Would welcome that day but. In -- not -- also hold -- my hopes that they're gonna do that in that in the near term I think just allowing not passed measure is not a lot of people see that as stepped forward. I think that's a destructive step forward because I don't think that any young person. Should go into the program of the auspices or about the false hope that they will be accepted. Because if you're gay child or -- the parents of -- child who could be gay putting your child in the voice that's America's putting them in jeopardy. Of having them be rejected one -- -- that same organization that instill them so much self respect and confidence when they're younger. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And they asked you your advice on whether or not you would encourage them what would you tell them fight I wouldn't encourage anybody to join the points -- -- not with these discriminatory policies in place. A lot of people say well -- like to join the Boy Scouts and I'm against this and there are lots of great people in the scouting program of course. But I would say -- wouldn't join a whites only country club and advocates for change the boy scouts of course are not about. Social progress -- social change -- about. Campaign in leadership and values like that so unfortunately if you join the boy scouts of America and they discriminate. You'll be tarnished by that message you'll be complicit in that discriminatory message just the way it is. Take it forward and let's say that they do in fact change the policy into include not -- -- members but also scout leaders as well. What kind of a program do you think they'll have to make any kind of adjustment -- beyond their policies but just in the way that they handle. The -- day and sort of their overall outlook. In the program. Be able to explain homosexuality are sexual orientation of its other scout members or other scout leaders because obviously. If you were a boy scout and you hear about this and you see about this in the news and all of a sudden a major decision comes -- your policy you wanted to -- going to affect you whether you're fourteen year old board. Or your -- twenty year old scout leader sure. I think it mean. You know I don't think the Boy Scouts are necessary the place to get into in depth conversations about sexuality and sexual expression. But I think -- the message is actually really simple -- -- the messages about discrimination. And in the -- -- and say we as an organization don't discriminate I think it's. You know it lets you know it's it's pretty natural disorders -- -- sort of go to that place. And make it really about in teaching -- -- young people but discrimination is not acceptable. You -- good American but Americans don't discriminated doesn't have to be. Much more explicit than not I think you -- it doesn't take. 25 year old -- -- year old to understand sexuality. And that discrimination is wrong you take a five year old kid. And they say this is not this is not right this is not fair. Get -- young children get it so does not do that complicated do you have a hopeful note hopeful outlook than on on the decisions I hopeful or. I I would put money down -- the -- -- America need to get with the times. Both in terms of -- members an adult members or -- just won't be relevant anymore. It will not be relevant in American society I thought that thirteen years ago -- -- what was seen happen since then is sort of a decrease -- members and a decrease in funding. Double continued an exponential pace because of the changes that are going on -- America now. Occurring -- actually NC. -- decision will come down James thank you so much for your time we appreciate -- -- you.
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