WATCH: MO Teen Asked To Leave Boy Scouts For Being Gay

It took guts for Jenn Tyrrell and Zach Wahls to go to the Boy Scouts with petitions requesting the organization lift its ban against homosexuals. But it took balls of steel for 19-year-old Eric Jones of Missouri to walk away from ten years of hard work and dedication by revealing to Scout administrators he was gay.

On Sunday, Jones, a sophomore at Missouri State University, sat down with the director of Camp Geiger in St. Joseph, Missouri, and disclosed his orientation. The campmaster was empathetic, says Jones, but told him the Scouts were firm about their policy. “I was told to leave. Pack your things and go,” recalls Jones.

Jones seems to have a good head on his shoulders, but he knows the problem is bigger than just him: “This is having an effect on our youth,” he says. “You are seeing it. If anything, have some kind of compassion for them. Imagine if this was your child or a neighbor, a close friend that was going through this.”

Seems like Jones has something to teach the Scouts, rather than the other way around.

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  • Chris

    Such a brave guy! I worked at a boy scout camp and decided not to go back shortly after I came out due to that same reason. 15+ Years involved in scouting, an eagle scout, and practically ran my scout troop and the whole aquatics program at the camp. Crazy how 3 words change so much..”I am Gay”

  • Ogre Magi

    Why would someone want to be in the scouts anyway? The Boy Scouts is an archaic, somewhat fascist group that hates individualism. Does it really teach anything or have any value whatsoever? They are also theistic. Really, why would any gay want to join this group?

    The founder of the Boy Scouts was more than likely a pedophile .

  • Art

    I agree with Chris, it was a very brave move by Eric Jones! Like Chris, I worked at a boy scout camp for years as a teenager and ran the nature program at the camp my last summer. I too walked away from it after coming out. I had heard too many slurs over the years and realized I could not go back.

    As to why anyone would want to be a scout, the answer is that in my troop and at the camp where I worked, it was an awesome experience. I learned so much about physical geography that as a freshman in college I hardly went to class and got an A, whereas my roommate who also ditched did far, far worse. I was exposed to kids with different backgrounds and religions, I went hiking in the wilderness, I learned how to canoe, to shoot, to rappel, to camp, and to go spelunking and whitewater rafting. I spent the summers outdoors, living in a tent, teaching other scouts about constellations, animal tracks, plant identification, ecology, stellar formation, and taxonomy. I helped put on show after show after show, taught campfire songs, and led hikes. It was beyond awesome!

    Someday the scouts will smarten up and realize that gay and atheist kids and leaders are assets and that the BSA’s treatment of us has been shameful and hurtful. I’ll be right back volunteering and donating when they do.

  • Anonymous Coward

    @Ogre Magi wrote: “Why would someone want to be in the scouts anyway?”

    For young boys, scouting is a lot of fun. They get to be away from home, overnight. They get to play with knives, and fire, and run around in the woods. They have experiences that they could not gain otherwise, learn some practical skills, and have lots of fun in the process.

    Most boys get over all of that as soon as they discover girls. They notice very quickly that there are no girls in boy scouts. Then, they decide to spend their weekends in places where there are girls, and drop out of boy scouts.

    The gay boys are the ones that stay in. They get to go camping with other gay boys. In the process, over a period of a few years, they become expert at outdoor skills, learn how to organize and lead, are introduced to a wide variety of other subjects, and generally become confident and capable young men.

    But, mostly, it is because they get to go camping with the other gay boys.

  • Not surprised at the obvious

    Most boy scout camp staff are gay. It’s an open secret. The military can get over don’t ask, don’t tell, but scouting can’t?

    There’s a U.S. Supreme Court case that permits the boy scouts to discriminate against gays because the scouts are a unique “quasi-religous” organization. It’s disgusting.

  • Chris

    Funny thing is that Robert Baden-Powell who founded the boy scouts was arguably gay as well so the scouting movement should really think about the whole homophobia thing again.

  • Danny

    Brave guy. Wish I had his guts and morals (yes, religious right assholes – I said morals – he’s got more in his pinkie than any of you bigots can ever hope to have) when I was his age. He’ll ultimately become much more of a better person for his actions than he would have had he stayed closeted in a discriminatory environment.

    As for the SCOTUS decision allowing this, remember it was a partisan 5-4 vote, which is why we need to come up with a better system for appointing justices – it’s currently almost entirely motivated by politics, which is likely NOT how our founding fathers intended.

    Where did we go so wrong as a nation?

  • Art

    @Not suprised at the obvious, is it an open secret? If so, I missed it, and it was not the case at my scout camp, at least in my experience. The staff members I have reconnected with since then are overwhelmingly straight. Has there been some kind of study?

    Regardless, I admire Eric Jones for having the guts to do what I was too scared to do back in the summer of 1986. I knew I was gay, I heard all of the slurs and jokes, and I failed to speak up because I did not want to be ostracized and because I knew what I would be giving up if I did. You should be proud of yourself, Eric. Your actions have helped shed more light on the BSA’s reprehensible policy and brought it one step closer to an end.

  • freddie

    BSA v Dale, the Supreme Court case that upheld the Boy Scouts’ ban was CORRECTLY decided. No private, non-commercial organization should be required to accept members it does not want to. Convince the Scouts to change their policies, don’t force them to.

  • Danny

    @freddie: Unfortunately, freddie, it’s not that simple. Boy Scouts is not a truly private organization – it is entangled at many levels of government in the US and receives special privileges from the Department of Defense, including funding, facilities, organization, advertising, and incentives in hiring for their Eagle Scouts.

    I would agree that a truly private organization that has absolutely no involvement with government can discriminate (as immoral as it might be). However, in this case, BSA is decidedly NOT private, despite their claims.

  • B

    No. 9 · freddie wrote, “BSA v Dale, the Supreme Court case that upheld the Boy Scouts’ ban was CORRECTLY decided. No private, non-commercial organization should be required to accept members it does not want to. Convince the Scouts to change their policies, don’t force them to.”

    If they want to be a private, non-commerical organization that discriminates, then the BSA should not have sued cities for not letting the BSA have special deals on the use of public facilities that are ultimately paid for by the taxpayers, including those subject to the BSA’s discrimination. For a list, see .

    Given those lawsuits, I’ll publicly state that the BSA is run by a bunch of hypocrites for wanting to be a private club and at the same time get public support.

  • joe

    @Ogre Magi:You seem to have your politicis backwards, it’s conservatives who pride individualism. It’s liberals who pride group and collectivism.

  • Hyhybt

    @Anonymous Coward: …and it’s STILL insulting to say that they “notice” that there are no girls in the Boy Scouts, as if they didn’t know that from the beginning but only figured it out after being in there for years. Even the ones who leave because of puberty (and that’s far from the only reason someone might leave) don’t do it for having learned anything; it’s simply a change of priorities.

    Others just find that they like the *idea* of being outdoors, etc a lot more fun than actually doing any of it, or were never interested in the first place but had parents who wanted them to try it, or were doing it because their friends did until they made new ones, etc.

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