Missouri Eagle Scout Eric Jones Kicked Out of Boy Scouts for Being Gay

Jul 19, 2012 at 8:00 am
Eric Jones, Eagle Scout and camp counselor, until last Sunday. - image via
Eric Jones, Eagle Scout and camp counselor, until last Sunday.

This past Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that after two years of careful consideration, an eleven-member committee concluded that the anti-gay policy "is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts," in the words of its spokesman, Deron Smith.

That means it's best for the Boy Scouts to fire Eric Jones, a counselor at Camp Geiger, its camp in St. Joseph. Jones had been a scout for twelve years, had a chestful of merit badges, had attained the senior rank of Eagle Scout and had been working at the camp for five summers.

After all that, Jones decided last Sunday to tell the camp director that he's gay. The director told Jones to pack up his gear and go home.

For Jones, a sophomore at Missouri State, being open about his sexuality went along with the Boy Scout pledge "To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

"You know this is an organization that is focused on middle school and high school and to tell them that they have to hide who they are of course puts even more stress on them," Jones told WDAF-TV in Kansas City. "Everything in the scout oath, everything is standing up for what's right."

Jones had hoped he could set an example for other gay scouts. After all, he'd been in the organization since second grade. He's an Eagle Scout, for God's sake. And doesn't the phrase "morally straight" seem to suggest a preference for honesty?

(Also, let's be clear: Jones wasn't using scouting as a way to pick up guys or "convert" younger boys. It was something he genuinely enjoyed. "Scouting was an outlet for me. An activity. Something I love and I was passionate about.")

"In my mind I thought that I had proven myself as a scout and as an employee," Jones said. "I almost thought that maybe that won't affect it, that that wouldn't matter that I had proven myself."

So much for that.

Jones told WDAF that, in the course of the firing, the camp director had told him that yes, he deserved to be there, but he couldn't stay because of Boy Scout policy.

Way to go, Boy Scouts. You just lost yourself a model scout, someone who actually tried to embody what you claim you're all about.

"This [anti-gay policy] is having an effect on our youth," Jones concluded. "You are seeing it. If anything, have some kind of compassion for them. Imagine if this was your child or a neighbor, a close friend that was going through this."

Jones's conversation with the camp director was filmed by filmmaker Ryan James Yezak, who plans to use the footage in his upcoming documentary, Second Class Citizens.