In 1980, the Boy Scouts learned that Eagle Scout Tim Curran was gay and rejected the 18-year-old’s application to be an assistant Scoutmaster. For the next 17 years, Curran fought the organization he loved, arguing that the Scouts’ discrimination because of sexual orientation was unconstitutional. He got nowhere.
In 1997, a 12-year-old Scout in California wrote a letter to his local newspaper “because I want people to know that the Boy Scouts of America is a great program but it won’t allow gay kids or grown-ups in scouting.” Steven Cozza, who is not gay, couldn’t understand why his favorite counselor at his church summer camp, who was gay, was not allowed to be a Scout. Cozza went on to run Scouting for All, an advocacy group that pushed to change the membership policy. It agitated for a dozen years and got nowhere.
Late last month, the Boys Scouts of America broke with 103 years of practice and announced that openly gay boys would no longer be banned from troops nationwide, although gay adults will remain excluded. The vote, which stunned many Scout leaders across the country, followed decades in which Scouting had portrayed the forces for change as a radical movement that sought to undermine the Boy Scouts’ role as a steward of traditional religious and family values.