Garrett Bryant has been a member of the Boy Scouts since he was in the third grade. Yet when Bryant, 19, waited for an offer letter from a Boy Scouts camp he had worked at last summer, he was told he wouldn’t be invited to return to his position—aallegedly because of a post on his Facebook page that inadvertently outed him.
Bryant says he was in line for a summer position at Camp Geromino, a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) camp outside of Phoenix that he had attended since he was 11. Although current BSA policy dictates that gay youth are allowed to participate in Scouts, gay adults are not, and Bryant kept his sexual orientation under wraps so he could continue participating.
“I viewed my sexuality as something I was going to keep private,” Bryant told NBC News. It was my private life. I wasn’t going to share it with the BSA.”
That all changed, however, last month, after Bryant met his first boyfriend and changed his status from “single” to “in a relationship” on Facebook. Although Bryant said he considered the post vague enough, it was met with an onslaught of comments from friends outside the BSA who knew he was gay, such as “Oh, good for you, man, what’s his name?”
While Bryant says he deleted the comments shortly after, it wasn’t soon enough. Last week, he was told by a camp leader that he was no longer being considered for the position, due to the post’s suggestion that he was engaging in “homosexuality.” “They made an issue of my sexuality,” Bryant told NBC News. “I was perfectly content with staying in the closet with the Scouts.”
This is not the first time an adult Scout leader has been ejected from the BSA since the organization voted to change their policy against gay youth participating in Boy Scouts last May. Last month, a Boy Scout troop in Seattle lost its affiliation after refusing to remove their openly gay scoutmaster.
Yet given Bryant’s level of achievement in the Scouts, as well as his young age—he’s only barely considered an adult by BSA standards, which classifies members as adults after they turn 18—his case is somewhat unique. Now, he’s fighting back against the Scouts’ policy of excluding adult gay members, starting a branch of the pro-gay organization Scouts for Equality with his mother.
For its part, the BSA won’t publicly comment on why Bryant did not receive a job offer letter from the organization, telling NBC only that he “did not meet requirements for employment.”
A statement from one of the local council’s top officials, Larry Abbott, on BSA hiring practices provides further clarity: “The way we look at it, we want to be a safe haven for kids and that’s where we’re at,” he told NBC News. “And we don’t want sex of any type in camp, either heterosexual or homosexual or anything.”
H/T NBC News | Photo by Orange County Archives/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)