Scouts: Gay youth, maybe; gay adults, no dice
by Timothy Cwiek
Apr 25, 2013 | 803 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Greg Lattera, news that the Boy Scouts of America probably won’t allow gay adults into the organization any time soon is disappointing — but not vanquishing.

In June 2003, Lattera was ousted by the BSA Cradle of Liberty Council after he came out. Ten years later, he continues to fight for reinstatement.

“I’m 27 years old,” Lattera told PGN. “I don’t care if I have to wait until I’m 77. I’ll still jump at the chance to rejoin Scouting. Once a Scout, always a Scout.”

The BSA’s proposed policy change, which was announced last week, would permit gay youths while continuing to exclude gay adult leaders.

The proposal is expected to be considered by about 1,400 voting members May 23 at a national BSA meeting.

Lattera isn’t impressed with the potential policy change.

“It’s ludicrous,” he said. “After a gay Scout turns 18, he could be kicked out. That’s extremely damaging to a person’s self-esteem and sense of identity.”

Lattera said he wants to serve as a Scoutmaster, to impart the skills he acquired in Scouting to the younger generation.

“I have a lot to offer. For eight years I was an exemplary Scout. I earned 32 merit badges. I really did pour my heart and soul into the organization.”

Lattera also blasted Cradle’s suggested new policy for Scouting, which would give local units the option of discriminating against lesbian and gay adults.

“Cradle missed an opportunity to speak out against discrimination,” he said.

He noted that Cradle officials spoke in favor of LGBT equality during a 2010 federal trial involving the local council’s eviction from a city-owned facility near the Ben Franklin Parkway.

That case remains pending in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Cradle appears to be backsliding,” Lattera said. “[Cradle officials] aren’t moving forward with the times, they’re moving backward.”

Lattera said the city should sell the Parkway building through a public-bidding process.

“If Cradle is the highest bidder, they can have their building back. Otherwise, they need to go somewhere else.”

Kera Armstrong, a spokesperson for Cradle, declined to comment for this story.

Palma Rasmussen, a disability-rights advocate, also blasted Cradle’s suggested policy change.

“Cradle wants to push people back into the closet,” Rasmussen said. “That’s very damaging to a person’s mental health and well-being.”

On the national level, she said it’s wrong for the BSA to continue excluding lesbian and gay adults.

“I’m outraged that they’re continuing to keep lesbian and gay adults out of Scouting. That’s a clear deprivation of people’s civil rights. Every parent has the right to be involved in their child’s Scouting activities.”

Rasmussen also noted that BSA’s proposed policy change won’t grant atheists access to Scouting.

“I personally believe you have the right to hold the beliefs that you want, including the belief that there isn’t a God,” she said. “Discriminating against LGBTs, atheists or the disabled is no different than discriminating against African-Americans, Jews or Native Americans.”

Yet, Lattera said he has many fond memories of Scouting.

“I have no bitterness in my heart,” he said. “I met so many wonderful people in Scouting. The bonds are still there, to this day. And if have any children, I’d encourage them to join Scouting, so they can have the same wonderful experience I had.”

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