Fairfield man disavows Boy Scouts for promoting hatred towards gays

FAIRFIELD, Ohio - John Lawson isn't a big fan of barriers.

"I face it almost every day," he said.

As a double hand amputee, he runs into a lot of people saying he can't do things. He has proved them wrong, by getting a pilot's license, becoming a certified scuba diver, and even an actor.

So when he realized an organization he grew up with, the Boy Scouts of America, was actively excluding gays, he made a painful decision; joining a protest movement across the country.

"I sent a letter, with my Eagle Scout badge back," he said.

Eagle is the highest rank a scout can achieve.

Less than one in 100 make it that far.

Lawson made the prestigious rank when he was 16 in 1974.

"Boy Scouts was a great organization for me," he said. "It taught me many things; teamwork, character education. Things that I not only used in my life as a youth, but I've also tried to continue as an adult."

Even though Lawson isn't gay, he says the policy which excludes gays from being scouts or serving as leaders goes against every thing scouting taught him.

"Those same values and tenets were what were causing me to return this, because it was not right," Lawson said.

While came up through the ranks of East Carolina Council, he had often volunteered as an adult to work with SW Ohio's Dan Beard Council, which sticks to the policy.

"We can agree to disagree," said Tom Dugger, the Scout Executive/CEO of the local council.

He spoke by cellphone from BSA's High Adventure Camp in Philmont, New Mexico.

 "Our policy excludes self styled practicing homosexuality within the tanks of Boy Scouts," he said.

 Dugger says the policy is what parents expect.

"Youngsters should be given a chance to be youngsters," he said, "in an environment that is safe."

Lawson calls that just plain wrong.

"They are actively promoting discrimination," he said.

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