A former boy scout from Pittsfield, Massachusetts is among a group of more than 200 across the country who are turning in their badges to the Boy Scouts of America. The scouts are reacting to the national organization reaffirming its longtime ban of openly gay members, which happened last month.
Leo AP Giannimi joined Troop 1 in Pittsfield at age six. He says he can’t imagine where he’d be now without the structure and support of the Boy Scouts.
“My only male mentors were in scouts because my dad wasn’t around… so it was a big thing for me. And not only that but my assistant scout master was my dentist…my very best friend and mentor…I met through scouts. And he was actually the first investor in my little company.”
So it was no easy decision for Giannimi to withdraw his membership. But after the Boy Scouts of America’s national council voted to continue to ban homosexual, atheist and agnostic scouts — Giannimi says he wrote a letter to the Texas based organization and enclosed the eagle scout badge he had worked his whole childhood to earn. He says he realized he couldn’t be part of a group that excludes people for things they can’t control.
“It’s a contradiction I think to the basic principal you’re taught to learn and live as a Boy Scout. You want to not exclude people. You want to be a leader and have a sense of morality and integrity in every situation. You want to help strangers you want to not judge people.”
Giannimi says he posted a picture of the letter on Twitter. And he says in a few hours — the letter had gone viral. So he says he’s using that momentum to garner support for online petitions to reverse the ban. Giannimi says he thinks around 20 percent of the country’s 2.7 million active Boy Scouts will have to speak out before the national council would reconsider its decision.