Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Facebook status outs gay scout and torpedoes a beloved summer camp job

By Brody Levesque | FLAGSTAFF -- For 19 year old Garrett Bryant, a Boy Scout since he was a small boy, summertime meant Boy Scout Camp and this summer, also a means to help pay for college- that is until a non gender specific 'relationship' status on Facebook forever altered his plans and his affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
Bryant who is gay, needed to keep that fact quiet due to his involvement with the BSA whose official policy is to bar openly gay men or women from serving in adult leadership positions.
The Arizona resident told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday that earlier this Spring he'd posted- in his words- a "gender neutral relationship status change" on his Facebook page, went to sleep and then realised hours later when he got up that while some of his immediate circle of close-knits friends knew of his sexual orientation, by necessity, he'd kept that secret as best as he could from his Scouting friends and leadership. He immediately logged on and saw one posted that read: " Awesome Man, who is he?" and another that said “Oh, good for you, man, what's his name?’” He says he deleted any posts that referenced his orientation and hoped that his scouting friends and BSA leadership hadn't seen the comments.
The first sign of trouble came when he called a friend to see about his application to work at BSA’s Camp Geronimo, located 90 miles northeast of Phoenix, where he had worked the previous summer. He said that instead of getting confirmation he was going to be employed again he was told he needed to speak with the camp's director.
On March 25th Bryant says that he was called by the Camp's Director and told that he wasn't not going to be offered the job- he was ineligible because of his personal choices. "I asked him what he meant by that and he said the homosexuality and then he [the director] referred to the Facebook posts."
Bryant, who has worked his way up through Scouting since he was a young boy achieving the rank of Eagle Scout says that being denied the job in an organization he loves is a crushing blow.
“Scouting is amazing- it teaches us to be leaders and it should be open to everyone. They [Scouting] should let everyone lead,” he said.
For Bryant it doesn't make a lot of sense. “The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law, “ he said quoting the BSA Vision statement.   “That's what I was prepared to do, with my life. Be a leader. I kept my sexual orientation private.”
He said that he considers his scouting friends and BSA leaders his 'other family' and noted that since the fact that he was outed, he's received tremendous support from them without a single negative remark. One friend, he noted, offered to resign from scouting.
“A policy of discrimination at any level results in the sort of fear we see at work in the Scouts’ ouster of Garrett. Garrett is an exemplary Scout who should be rehired immediately.” said Zach Wahls, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, in a statement to LGBTQ Nation.
Bryant is preparing to move forward. His family has been extremely supportive, he noted that “I told my Mom last August in an elevator at her job that I was gay and she just said oh?” He added that he has two uncles who are gay and both are married. His mother and friends are helping him establish an Arizona chapter of Scouts For Equality and he said that;
[...] “it's time that the scouts join the rest of us in the 21st century. I'm not seeking to destroy scouting or seeking to change scouting in a negative way, I just want everyone to have an equal chance. 
I met all of the requirements to be a member of the Boy Scouts, I loved my job and everyone seemed to look forward to having me return this summer. The fact that a rumor spread on social media led to this is frustrating," he said.
For now, his immediate plans are to find another job to help pay his college expenses as he transfers to the University of Arizona in Tucson next fall from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where he currently attends.
LGBTQ Nation reached out to BSA's national headquarters Tuesday and was told by a spokesperson that Bryant's situation is a private employment matter and that the organization would not offer a comment.