This letter is being re-published here with the permission of Patrick Goodnow.
Email sent to the National Board of the BSA:
I was a registered scout from the age of 8 through 18 as were both my younger and older brothers. All three of us spent summers first attending and then working for our local scout camp, J.N. Webster. I achieved my Life badge and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow completing vigil and numerous service projects.
Mom, started as a cub scout leader and in the 70’s became one of the first women in America to complete advanced leadership training.
“Stand Up Rose” Goodnow became a district leader and was awarded the silver beaver on two occasions. Upon her passing, she was buried in her scouting uniform at her request.
Wally Goodnow, my dad served as scout master and on district committees, also earning a sliver beaver.
My bothers, Wallace and Paul-Steven Goodnow, both Eagle scouts, died tragically while still in their teens; Wallace, murdered in Jacksonville, FL before he was 20 and Paul-Steven in a single car accident driving late night to his job at J.N. Webster as dining hall steward. A plaque was erected memorializing them at the entrance to a campsite at the scout reservation.
I helped to home care Rose through her final illness and took my father Wallace into my home to see him through his, eventually holding his hand as he passed. They remained involved in scouting to the end.
Every five years I take a stand for my family and represent my brother Wallace and his memory at the parole board hearing for the unapologetic man who took his life.
I volunteer as a youth mentor and contribute my services to community and charitable projects often in the name of these family members who have passed.
I am a gay man. The lessons that I learned in scouting and the examples of service and fellowship have helped to make me a good man as well.
Two summers ago, I attended a reunion at J.N. Webster for past staff and campers.
I was greeted by one leader graciously and with much good cheer. Most others made it clear that though they would happily take my financial contribution, they would also prefer that I leave as quickly as possible.
- I was not welcome to assist with service and badly needed maintenance projects.
- My offer to provide assistance with fundraising and marketing (areas in which I have considerable expertise) was firmly rebuffed.
- I have now, apparently, been removed from contact lists for future social gatherings
- Though I asked, none would tell me where the plaque honoring my brothers was so I could pay my respects
I continue to contribute to my community and actively participate in many worthwhile organizations.
…but my heart is heavy when I think of what scouting was and what it has become.
On behalf of my scouting family and in their memory, please change this policy.
Allow your brothers to come home.