(WICHITA, Kan.)—Robert Leis is a former boy scout of 13 years who represents a small group of those honored as Eagle Scouts. He also represents a group not as rare as you may think of gay scouts. Leis says, "Does the Scouts know that there are gays in the ranks? Yes. There are tons of them. I know so many gay Eagle Scouts. I'd probably say 20 to 30 percent of Eagle Scouts."
But the organization frowns upon being gay, forcing many boys to keep it a secret. Leis says, "I'm scared that if I was to go and be a leader, that I'd have my Eagle Scout taken away. Having this interview could make the council say hey we're going to take away your Eagle Scout."
The ban on gay membership could be lifted in May if the national board decides to do so. The decision was supposed to come on Wednesday, but board members postponed it. Leis says, "That's an incredible opportunity to make a difference in a child's life. Who cares if they're gay or straight."
Leis says the Scout Oath requires members to be Christian, which some critics believe contradicts allowing homosexuality. He says, "The morals that the church teaches and that the Scouts instill, I don't think there's a contradiction there. You can be a moral, upstanding, Catholic, Boy Scout and gay. There's nothing wrong with that."
A hold on some donations and a decline in membership caused the national board to rethink its policy. Leis says, "If this is what their breaking point is then that's awesome, because there is an entire generation of youth that they're going to miss if they don't change."
Leis hopes board members decide to lift the ban, but if they do not he reluctantly suggests young boys keep their sexuality a secret. He says, "It's hard, I know. It's extremely difficult. but it's worth it and it's going to get better."
President Barack Obama says he supports a change in the policy. Boy Scouts has more than 2 million members nationwide.