Gay Ex-Boy Scout Still Thinks Fondly Of the Organization That Exiled Him

There is no bitterness in my heart against these people. They are still an organization that gave me the core values as to who I am.

—Greg Lattera, the 25-year-old former Boy Scouts of America counselor, testifying in the Philadelphia lawsuit over the group’s $1-a-year city-subsidized lease. Lattera was 10 when he joined the Scouts, and 18 when they dismissed him. At the time, his Life Scout ranking was just one level below the highest, Eagle Scout. [via]

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  • Eric Thor

    My boyfriend had an extremely similar experience. He was kicked out right before becoming an Eagle scout as well. He loved his specific troop, and experiences he had with them, but he isn’t quite fond of his former scout leader or the organization as a whole.

    I actually went to his friends Eagle Scout ceremony. It was held in a church, and a bunch of people spoke during it. The speakers consisted of pastors, republican congressmen, and Knights Of Columbus Members. During the prayer part of the ceremony I whipped out my Iphone, and googled several of speakers stances on gay rights. It wasn’t pretty to say the least.

  • TommyOC

    I was a Boy Scout from the time I was 10 to when I was 20 and an assistant Scoutmaster. I spent my last two *Boy* Scouting years as my troop’s -one of the largrst non-LDS troops in the state – Senior Patrol Leader, the highest leadership rank a boy could have.

    When I left my troop, it was because of Scouting’s stance on homosexuality. I left on great terms with my Troop – as the ban on gay members is a national, and not local policy – and even had a standing invite to come back anytime.

    scouting taught me about the value of integrity, of duty, of right and wrong. It taught me how to lead. I had more adventures among the great outdoors in my teens than most people will have in their entire lives. I’m grateful for the skills – practical and otherwise – the Scouts taught me.

    If I had a son, and he wanted to join, I would enroll him in a knowledgeable Troop just as soon as he was old enough. There are other programs out there, but none that transform boys into responsible young men.

    I am unhappy that the Mormon Church has perverted the national organization’s policies and, like Mr. Lattera, I am in the paradoxical position of supporting the Scouts but also supporting the ban on their use of public facilities. I honestly believe that the best way to save Scouting is to tear it apart.

  • Steve

    I was registered in BSA from age 8 to age 23; a Boy Scout for slightly more than 7 of those years; and an SPL for more than 3 years. I chose not to apply for Eagle, because at that time in that council, the list of questions for the Eagle Board of Review included, “are you a homosexual?”. I knew that I would be kicked out if I answered that questions honestly, and I was not willing to lie. So I did not put myself in the position of being asked.

    All of my friends were in scouting. Scouting is a powerful growth experience for the boys. They learn numerous practical skills. They learn social skills in the micro-society called a troop, including leadership, organization, cooperation, honesty, and trust. And, most importantly, the boys learn to become independent and self-reliant. Youth in other activities, such as sports, learn a small number of specific skills, and to do what they are told by an adult. Boys in scouting learn to make decisions for themselves, and to deal with the consequences.

    I too lament the turn toward the political “right” that BSA took around 1980. At that point, the LDS church threatened to pull out of BSA, and the BSA corporation wanted to keep those customers. Instead of taking a lump and thriving for many generations, the BSA chose to avoid the lump. BSA has been controlled by the LDS church for the about the last four decades. As a direct result, their registration numbers have been decreasing consistently through all of that time.

    As a direct result of that LDS control, BSA excludes gays. As a direct result of that membership policy, they have lost many thousands of unit sponsoring organizations. Most public schools and other publicly-funded organizations no longer sponsor troops. Many churches no longer will sponsor units. As animus toward gays is gradually reduced, and as churches reconsider their exclusion of gays, they are also reconsidering their sponsorship of BSA units.

    Also as a result of that LDS control, BSA has lost the memberships of millions of families. Of course, BSA blames “sports” and other activities for youth, but those same leagues have been enrolling youth at least since the 1950s, at about the same rate through the entire period. The difference is, that BSA has made itself less attractive to the boys, by moving focus away from “adventure” and “scouting”, and toward “advancement” and “character”. And, that shift was made entirely at the direction of LDS. The decision to exclude gay people was an important part of that shift.

    Perhaps the LDS will soften its stance, at some point. That seems to be the only way for BSA to regain anything like its former glory.

  • jon

    I am on my 14th year in Scouting and have been openly gay for the last four of them. I am going to the 100th Anniversary National Jamboree as an Assn’t Scoutmaster. I am very proud of being an Eagle Scout and my time spend in scouting. The organization is filled with gay youth and leadership changing minds inside is how I hope change will come to Scouting. I would hate to see their funding cut they help so many young people. (the south park episode titled Cripple Fight explains this view)

  • jeffree

    @Jon: I hate to break the news to you but you’re facing a choice: become an “ex-gay Scout” or a “gay ex-Scout.”

    Pick one.

  • Republican

    I’ve never been a scout, but I’ve known many who have gone through the program and all speak very highly of the program itself (not its anti-gay policies). Scouts learn skills and values that help them succeed in life.

    Is there any alternative out there that is more gay friendly? I can think of a few famous groups for kids, but none really do what the scouts do. Have any scouts that have been kicked out of the organization thought about forming their own group?

  • Cam

    Huge numbers of schools used to have scout troops that could meet there, the convienience was a great way to encourage membership. The LDS church is far along in the process of turning scouts into a Mormon specific, with a smattering of Catholics, organization.

    Whenever the Mormons have come to a crossroads and one of the choices was to be bigoted, their church has ALWAYS chosen bigotry.

    They still extoll the virtues of how the church was instrumental in the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. They would not allow blacks to become actual full members until around 1980 and that was only after horrible national P.R. including a possible boycott of Universities refusing to play BYU in sports, they will still separate their Wards by race, and people will be “Encouraged” to go to their “Proper” ward with the passive agressive sentance of “We feel you’ll be more confortable in the hispanic Ward”, and now they are instrumental in trying to fight the advance to full civil rights of gays.

    Isn’t it funny that a church that has built a large part of it’s identity on claiming “Victim” status is so eagar to discriminate and be bigoted towards everybody else?

  • Aubrey

    I’ll just note a similar story to those above.
    My husband was an Eagle Scout by age 16 – it was a family tradition (his father and uncle were also Eagle Scouts).
    When he came out in college, though, it changed his relationship with the BSA.
    And though he looks favorably on his time in Scouting, he has told me he would not want our son (we have a 4-year old) to enter the Boy Scout (Cub Scout) program as it is now.
    When the BSA contacted our home recently re: a compilation directory of Eagle Scouts, we declined.
    It’s a difficult call, but we would not want to put our son into an environment that considers his family ‘immoral’. In addition, I’m not even sure the Scouts would accept a child from a gay family. Does anyone know the national BSA policy on this type of situation?


    @jeffree: Perfectley stated J!

    @Aubrey: Kudos to you and your hubby for having making the 100% correct choice for your son.

  • Queer Supremacist

    I do not support Boy Scouts. I don’t buy their shitty popcorn or give them one red penny. This is why

    On the other hand, Girl Scouts are very pro-gay.

  • Daniel

    You should check your state parks and make certain they have not named parts of public land after a group that discriminates against public taxpayers who own the land. Public land named after the boy scouts should be ended because it is no different than naming parts of state parks after the KKK or any other private group, since a private religious group like the KKK or the BSA can discriminate based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If they name state land for one group, they need to name it for all private groups that discriminate. The BSA should not get special treatment to discriminate with a state endorsement of their name on public land. The BSA is controlled by Roman Catholics and LDS Mormons (Mormon faith is founded on whites being children of God, non-whites being children of Satan, how evil is that belief!). State land should not be named for a religious group like the BSA that discriminates. State governments need to stop endorsing discrimination in this manner; they would never name something, for instance, Ku Klux Klan cove or KKK island but they don’t hesitate to call it boy scout cove or boy scout island.

  • jon

    @jeffree: Saying that I need to pick to become an ex-scout or ex-gay is just crazy. I support the Scouts and I think it’s good for the boys to have a openly gay example. I always preach love of diversity as a leader and really got some boys to think about what it means when the call something ‘gay.’ To remove myself means we lose, I can change minds by staying in and being open. But from what I have encountered there are few minds to change, all I get is support. National based in Texas is the Problem.

  • jon

    @Aubrey: By policy rules gay familes are allowed just no gay leaders. Gay youth are allowed, but they can not take any youth leader positions. This is the written policy, but working at a Cub and boy scout camp I have dealt with gay and str8 families. Local feelings matter more on this policy’s enforcement. Like my council hires openly gay people i.e. me and a few others. The problem is National and the choke hold LDS and the Catholic church have on BSA.

  • Chris H.

    Are you serious? The boy scouts actually kicks out gay youth? I was in the boy scouts for a long ass time until last year when i fell out of it at the rank of life scout. This is disturbing

  • jeffree

    @JON: I hope what I said was wrong. I had a good experience within the BSA, but too many people I know have been ousted. The pressure of the LDS theology against gays will eventually mean you renounce your gayyness or your affilliation. That would be a loss to you and the people you lead, but we can’t pretend you are adhering 2 to their rules and regs. I hope you’ll be able to reform their policies.

  • Fitz

    The whole thing is really sad for me… it reminds me of when Bush was president, you know— I didn’t think he represented the best of the USA at all, but to outsiders HE was the symbol of us. Same for BSA..some of my best childhood memories are from scouting. My work ethic comes from scouting. My obsession with having a contingency plan comes from scouting. :) I learned how to iron a shirt, first aide, altruism, environmentalism, and to be ashamed of cheating. And my proudest moments of my dad were seeing him as our CS leader, and then coming into BS to teach science stuff. sigh…. it just seems so antithetical to the bigots that they have become.

  • Keri


    Hi Jon,

    I want to find you as a scout leader in my area (Seattle) how do I do that? I very much want my son to be in the organization but have only found Mormon led troops. Any good on advice on the weeding out process — or starting our own troop?



  • Michael Jacobus

    There is hope!

    Visit The Paladin Council website!

  • dave

    SPeaking against BSAs policy excluding gays is like an athiest joining a Christian church and then whining about their religous beliefs. Anyone who does this is frankly a misfit of society. If you are gay/want to be gay, fine, but don’t go trying to push your square peg in a round hole. The policies are clearly stated and available to all. BSA is PRIVATE and therefore has as much a legal right to their policy as you have to be gay.

  • Uncle Moose

    @Dave —

    Okay, maybe I came a little late to the party, but Dave, your attitude suxs and there was no need for the name calling. Time to grow up, dude and wear big boy pants if you want to contribute to an adult conversation…

    In my opinion, if a kid joins the scouts at an early age – he nor his family don’t necessarily know in advance that his genetic makeup swings the gay way. So while he is growing up, and learning all this great stuff…, and he slowly realizes ‘hey, I bat for the same team…’ WHY should he be held in contempt for something that is natural?

    That would be like joining the scouts at 5 when you had light blonde hair, and suddenly, when the hormones hit – your hair became dark brown. It’s genetics. You couldn’t help it. It’s natural. And there was no earthly idea the hair was gonna go from blonde to dark brown in the span of 12 years. So WHY should you be kicked out of the scouts for your hair changing colors?

    I dunno. Maybe I’m being too simple minded.

  • Cruz2012

    I’m very good friends with Greg. Our families have known each other for decades now. The Shit he went with them. And yet he still has no ill feelings towards them. It’s a shame that this World will forever be closed minded.

Comments are closed.