Sunday, February 10, 2013

Puerto Rican men give up Eagle Scout badges over Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies

Joining thousands of Boy Scouts in the United States who have turned in their merit badges and renounced their affiliation with the agency in protest of their discriminatory policies, three Puerto Rican men have followed suit and publicly renounced their Eagle Scout honors and badges.

In a statement addressed to the Puerto Rican chapter of the Boy Scouts of America and published today in El Vocero, the three former Boy Scouts - José Aníbal Herrero Acevedo, Juan Gabriel Marrero Delgado and Luis Salvador Herrero - urged the agency to change their ban on LGBT members.

My translation of their statement:
We have made the decision to renounce the Boy Scouts' highest honor to raise the alarm against an organization that refuses to accept members of the LGBT community as part of their membership. In Puerto Rico of the 21st century there is no room for intolerance, discrimination or homophobia and, as a result, we can no longer be part of an organization that promotes any of it.
Being a part of the Boy Scouts of America was a unique part of our lives and that's the reason we cannot simply stand with our arms crossed before an organization that has shut its doors to a significant part of the community.  We cannot continue wearing our Eagle Scout badges with pride unless the Boy Scouts eliminate their unjust policies and allow gays to openly participate in the organization.
The great experiences and memories of the time we spent in the troop last a lifetime and they must be available to everyone and not just a few. We call on other young Eagle Scouts from our troop and throughout Puerto Rico to join our efforts and to renounce their Eagle Scout rank until the Puerto Rican chapter of the Boy Scouts changes its discriminatory policy against the gay community.
The three men, currently in their 20's, were members of the same Guaynabo-based troop more than twenty years ago and have remained friends since then. Earlier today, Herrero took to Twitter to publicly announce their stand (in Spanish)...
Herrero also announced the launch of a Facebook page titled "No Discrimination in the Boy Scouts of Puerto Rico".

A certain someone preparing to fill a judge's seat in the Australian version of "The Voice" took notice. Ricky Martin thanked the three men in a tweet sent to his 8,000,000+ followers.
In October of 2012, the Georgia-based office of the national Boy Scouts of America released a public statement apologizing for 5,000 instances of sexual abuse committed against members of the Boy Scouts in Puerto Rico between the years of 1959 and 1988. The apology followed an Oregon court ruling that made the records public.

In July we took a look at the Boy Scouts in Latin America and their policy on LGBT members.  Surprisingly we only found out one Latin American country that banned gays from the Boy Scouts - Panama - and even they seemed to backtrack once the policy became public.


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