An Oklahoma Eagle Scout, Tanner Moody, achieved the highest rank offered for members of the Boy Scouts of America. Therefore, it came as no surprise that he was offered employment at the Indian Nation’s Council summer camp as a merit badge counselor for two summers straight. However, when Moody accepted the position, feeling he must be “honest” and “trustworthy”, he informed the Camp Director he was gay. As a result, the summer camp sent him a letter they could no longer offer him the summer camp position. Moody is now taking steps to change the Boy Scouts of America’s stance on employment based on sexual orientation.
Eagle Scout Tanner Moody notes that he lived and breathed boy scouts from 2008 to 2014 when he earned the honor of Eagle Scout. Despite Tanner’s commitment to the scouts, he notes that he was always afraid to mention his sexual orientation even though anti-gay restrictions were lifted in 2014.
“In my Scouting career, I was frightened of how the members of my troop would view my sexual orientation. Even after the anti-gay ban was lifted on youth at the beginning of 2014, I was continually scared and afraid.”
Once the gay ban was lifted for youth in the Boy Scouts of America, it did not apply to leadership. The official membership guidelines for the BSA note that “adult membership” is not offered to individuals who are openly homosexual. Adult membership would include camp counselors and those in leadership positions.
“While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
The section on adult leadership notes that BSA will not inquire about sexual orientation. However, if it is made known that a member of leadership is gay, they will no longer be able to be an adult member of the organization. Therefore, when Tanner Moody informed the camp of his sexual orientation, he was no longer considered morally qualified to lead the youth program.
This is why Moody has said he can no longer support the organization that he loved for so long.
“I have done nothing but promote the advancement of the BSA, and would have done nothing to hinder the reputation of one of the greatest youth organizations in the world. Not being hired based on my sexual orientation, instead of experience and knowledge in Scouting, is discrimination and should not be tolerated.”
Though Moody was denied a leadership position based on his sexual orientation, another gay eagle scout plans to push the envelope by applying for a leadership position despite being openly gay. Pascal Tessier, the first openly gay scout approved for Eagle Scout status, says he will continue to push for restrictions on gay leaders to be lifted.
“On my 18th birthday, I’m planning on applying to be an adult leader for the Boy Scouts so that we push the issue.”
What do you think about the Boy Scouts of America’s stance on the sexual orientation of leadership? Should it matter if a leader is gay or not?
You can find more about Tanner Moody and his petition to have the gay-ban on BSA leadership lifted here.