BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – For the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), it apparently didn't matter that Eric Jones had been a member for almost 10 years.
The 19-year-old Eagle Scout and summer camp counsellor was shown the door after he bit the bullet and revealed he is gay to his camp director, who told Jones that while he deserved to be there, BSA policy is BSA policy: no openly gay people allowed.
In an interview with New York's Daily News, Jones says he'd been "working on coming out" and thought it was "time to have my life of scouting and my other life come together." Jones said he thought the director would be willing to "overlook" his sexuality since he had been working at the Missouri camp for nearly five years. Still, he says he doesn't regret his decision to come out.
News of Jones's story emerges at the same time that the BSA has reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, despite ongoing criticism and protests regarding its stance.
An Associated Press (AP) report, quoting a BSA spokesperson, says an 11-member special committee, formed by top Scout leaders, "came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts."
But American gay-rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) views the BSA's decision as a "missed opportunity of colossal proportions."
"With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued," HRC president Chad Griffin said. "They've chosen to teach division and intolerance."
Interestingly, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, a company that has been praised for its gay-friendly policies, is in line to become president of the Scouts' national board in 2014, the AP report notes, and will "likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups to try to end the exclusion policy."
Landing image: nydailynews.com