Tonawanda News

The Town

April 24, 2013

Scout seeks to include gays

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A local man who is leading a drive to persuade the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay members said he supports the organization’s proposal to partially alter its policy. 

The proposition, which was released late last week, would allow for gay children to be part of the organization — but not gay adult leaders. The organization’s 1,400 National Council members will vote on the proposal at a meeting in Texas at the end of May. 

“I support it because it is a step in the right direction,” Town of Tonawanda resident Matthew Wilcott said. “But make no mistake, the proposal is still discriminatory against adults. It tells them that they are not good enough role models and that they don’t stand up to the morals of the organization to lead the youth.” 

Wilcott, 29, is a teacher the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart and grew up as a Boy Scout in West Seneca. He is now an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting, and serves as a counselor for the Greater Niagara Frontier Council’s Camp Schoellkopf over the summer.

Wilcott began his campaign after learning about a 17-year-old scout in California, Ryan Andersen, who completed all his work to become an Eagle Scout before the Boy Scouts kicked him out of the organization for being gay. 

“At that last moment, he was denied his badge, even though all his masters had known he was openly gay,” Wilcott said. “That is ridiculous and not right. It became something I wrestled with morally.” 

After hearing about Andersen’s story, Wilcott got involved with the Scouts for Equality organization and began an online petition at www.change.org to encourage the Greater Niagara Frontier Council to vote against the anti-gay policy. That petition now has 470 signatures. 

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