KEARNEY, Mo. — A Missouri Boy Scout says everything he has worked for over the past 10 years is gone because he finally admitted who he really is.
Eric Jones says he was kicked out of a Boy Scout summer camp where he worked because he is gay.
Jones, 19, says he knew what the Boy Scouts of America stood for. He even says the Scouts made him who he is today. However, his title, his job and his Boy Scout honor were stripped away on Sunday when he told the director at the camp where he worked in St. Joseph, Missouri, that he is gay.
In second grade, Eric Jones took the Boy Scout oath, to do his best, obey the scout law, and keep himself morally straight.
“Everything in the scout oath, everything is standing up for what’s right,” said Jones, who says that for more than a decade he wore his scouting uniform with pride. “Scouting was an outlet for me. An activity. Something I love and I was passionate about.”
At 17, Jones earned the rank of Eagle Scout, and this summer he was working at a scout summer camp in St. Joseph.
“That’s really one of my passions is helping other people, scouting has taught me that,” said Jones.
But Jones says part of helping other people and living up to the scout oath meant he needed to be open about who he is.
“You know this is an organization that is focused on middle school and high school and to tell them that they have to hide who they are of course puts even more stress on them,” said Jones.
So on Sunday, Jones sat down with the director of Camp Geiger and told him that he is gay.
“I was asked to leave,” he said. “I was told to leave. Pack your things and go.”
He says the director was compassionate, telling Jones he deserved to be there — but because of scout policy, Jones had to leave.
“In my mind I thought that I had proven myself as a scout and as an employee. I almost thought that maybe that won’t affect it, that that wouldn’t matter that I had proven myself,” said Jones.
The Boy Scouts have always had a policy against admitting gay members. The policy has even been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Jones says the policy needs to change.
“This is having an effect on our youth,” said Jones. “You are seeing it. If anything, have some kind of compassion for them. Imagine if this was your child or a neighbor, a close friend that was going through this.”
The Pony Express Council, who is in charge of troops in the St. Joseph area, said they have no comment on Jones. In June, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying they have no plans to change their membership policy.
Jones’ coming out to the camp leader will be featured in a documentary film called “Second Class Citizens.”