Philadelphia Scouts ousts gay teen despite pro-gay policy

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2003 12:00 AM ET

The Philadelphia Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the nation's third largest, has officially ousted 18-year-old scout Gregory Lattera and apparently fired him from the summer-camp job he has held for the past three years for publicly revealing that he is gay. The move comes one week after the council announced a new, gay-inclusive nondiscrimination policy. "We have received information that has compelled us to revoke your registration," BSA executive William T. Dwyer III told Lattera in a letter dated June 6. Within hours of receiving the letter Saturday afternoon, Lattera called Dwyer to ask him for details about his expulsion. "He hung up on me as I was trying to get the rest of my questions out," Lattera said. "He said, 'Well, there ya go.... You went and made your sexual orientation open. If you had just kept your mouth shut and been a good scout and employee, you wouldn't have this problem.' I said, 'I have a few more questions,' and Dywer said, 'God bless you, Greg,' and hung up. That was the end of the conversation."

"The Cradle of Liberty Council has obviously instituted the so-called nondiscrimination policy in order to gain favor with potential financial supporters and the American public," said Chris Hayes, a former scout leader from Albany, N.Y., who was kicked out in August 2000 for being gay. "As we can see in Greg Lattera's case, they had no intention of following this policy. How can the Boy Scouts of America teach young men about being trustworthy when they themselves are not?" Hayes currently chairs the New York State Coalition for Inclusive Scouting.

Two years ago the Boston Minuteman Council of the BSA adopted a similar nondiscrimination policy. One week after the policy was reported in The Boston Globe, the council publicly backpedaled when Mark Noel, an openly gay Eagle Scout and former scout leader, was turned down for a position as a merit badge counselor. "We've seen time and again that BSA officials can't seem to make any of these local nondiscrimination policies stick," said Noel, who is now the director of the New England Coalition for Inclusive Scouting. "They look good on paper, but as soon as someone puts them to the test to see if they can be trusted, the BSA finds some reason to expel them, saying it was a decision made at national headquarters or that the person was 'too open' about his sexual orientation. No one in Scouting really believes these local nondiscrimination policies are for real, and no one can trust them until someone like Greg Lattera is allowed to stay. Out of 3.3 million scouts and leaders around the country right now, we still can't point to a single one who is openly gay."