Today could mark a turning point for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as their national leadership is set to vote on their policy concerning openly gay youth in the organisation. Now amateur footage has emerged of a Scout official kicking out a teen after he confides in him that he is gay.
The BSA has long been known for its controversial policy whereby openly gay members are banned from the organisation. It even was the subject of the exceptionally moving “About a Boy Scout” episode of NBC’s recently cancelled comedy, The New Normal. Today’s historic vote could overturn this policy opening up the door for previous scouts to return, new members to join the organisation and for more current members to openly come out within the organisation. However, the ban on gay adult participants is not included in the vote and will remain in place.
The amateur footage captured by the Eagle Scout that was released today is quickly going viral and is part of an upcoming documentary, Second Class Citizens. The documentary, directed by Ryan James Yezak, will focus on the gay rights movement and is currently still in production. According to The Advocate, Yezak is seeking backing to complete and screen the documentary.
The short 57 second clip shows 19-year-old Eric Jones, an Eagle Scout who had been working at the BSA’s annual summer camp in Missouri for the past five years, having a conversation with the camp director when he reveals that he is gay. Though the camp director appears sympathetic to Jones’ plight, stating that he believes “your lifestyle is your lifestyle,” he ultimately falls back on the organisation’s stand on homosexuality stating that “by telling me what you just told me, I automatically takes you out of the program… I really have no choice.”
The incident took place last summer and at the time Jones spoke to the New York Daily News explaining how he’d been working on coming out and that he “thought it was time to have my life of scouting and my other life come together.” Jones knew of the BSA policy but had thought that the camp director “would overlook it” due to his years of working at the camp and his service as a scout. He admitted that the camp director did say he was “deserving to be there, but he had to follow the policy of the BSA”.
Commenting on the actions of the camp director, Yezak said, “Honestly, I would be lying if I said I was surprised by the director’s decision. I’m familiar with their policy though it’s not often talked about.”
Jones does not regret his decision at all, but feels “discriminated.”
The clip, where the camp director’s face and voice have been obscured, can be viewed below: