Q&A: Cameron Kline, The Local Eagle Scout Who Returned His Scout Medal In Protest Of The BSA’s Anti-Gay Policy

Yesterday, an NBC10 report came across our desks about Cameron Kline, a former Eagle Scout who returned his Eagle Scout Medal to the Boy Scouts of America in protest of their re-affirmation of their anti-gay policies (along with a letter than you can read in full here). He is one of many who are doing the same thing, to show that this policy by the BSA is not one they stand by, and it is not representative of they way they (and most) believe the scouts should be. After we posted about it, Kline contacted us, and we were able to wrangle him into doing a quick Q&A with us about his time in the scouts, his reasons for returning the medal, and his hopes for the BSA’s future.

Meet us after the jump for our brief talk with Kline.

How long were you incolved in the scouts?

I started as a cub scout, worked my way through scouting and got my Eagle Scout award when I was a sophmore in high school, which would be 1990. I was around for another year, maybe two, and quit when I got to college in 1992.

In your time as a scout and in the ensuing years, were you aware of the BSA’s anti-gay policy?

I wasn’t aware of the policy while I was scouting and I didn’t know anything about it until I read articles about the BSA reviewing the policy. And that’s when I began to think about what it meant, how I felt, and if I should say anything about it.

Do you think the policy is the feeling of the people in the organization itself, or is it more of a decision made by the people at the top?

I don’t know where it came from or how the policy was even formed. I’ll also say that, as a private organization, I respect their right to say what they want to say but that means I can say what I want to say too. But I just don’t think it’s right. The BSA is a group that stands for Americana; it’s apple pie, it’s helping old ladies cross the street and helping make your neighborhood and town safer and better. On the flip side of that, they have this policy that is institutionalized discrimination and I thought I’d take what I learned in scouting and say something about it.

Did you experience any discimination or homophobia first hand while you were in the scouts?

No, overall my experience was great. There were fellow scouts and people I met at functions that were rich/poor/black/white/gay/straight/disabled, etc. and I never heard or saw anything negative, which is what made me so surprised when I learned about this policy and that they reaffirmed it, which is so contrary to the scouts I saw when I was there.

When you heard the policy was re-affirmed, did you immediately think you wanted to do something, and when did you make the decision to send the medal back?

Yeah, the announcement that they re-affirmed the policy came out a while ago, and I started to think about it quite a lot; about if I wanted to do anything at all. I thought about it pretty hard for a few weeks. I flew home to Illinois where my family was for my nephews’ graduation in August and I made up my mind that there was something I wanted to do. I talked to my parents over my dad’s famous pancakes at breakfast and we decided I would put my thoughts down on a piece of paper, and thats where it started.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who is on track to take over as leader of the board for the BSA in a few years has pledged to end the policy, do you think that you’ll be able to support the scouts again if the policy is ended, or has that ship sailed?

I’m hopeful and excited that he said that, and I think scouts and LGBTQ across the U.S. are just watching with our fingers crossed and hoping they’ll do the right thing. There is never a bad time for change, and it’s unfortunate that we have to have these conversations but I’m hopeful they’ll make the change and I’ll applaud them when they do.

Any final thoughts?

What would have happened if the scouts, instead of re-affirming their policy, would have said “Let’s take a break, let’s take a breath, and in the next year let’s go around the U.S. talking with scouts, kids, groups, LGBTQ kids and scouts, and we’ll all come together at the end of the year and meet in the middle?” If they had done that; looked around the U.S. and brought everyone to the table and made the decision that way, they would have been revered. Their membership would have exploded. But they chose not to do that. So now we’re having this conversation about a policy that is institutionalized discrimination. I hope that in the future they do something that is open, more of a discussion, and closer to the ideals of scouting that we all think should be part of the boy scouts.

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