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Former Boy Scout leader, expelled from organization because of sexual orientation, to speak on his experiences during Oct. 16 visit to Syracuse University campus
Former Boy Scout leader, expelled from organization because of sexual orientation, to speak on his experiences during Oct. 16 visit to Syracuse University campusOctober 07, 2002Matthew Wardsuprideunion@yahoo.com
Syracuse University Pride Union will feature a presentation by former Eagle Scout James Dale Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for students with an SU I.D., and are available at the Schine Box Office, 443-4517, beginning Oct. 9. Dale’s visit is presented in cooperation with the University’s LGBT Resource Center.
Dale spent 12 years of his life serving the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), eventually rising to the rank of Eagle Scout and volunteering as an assistant scoutmaster, until the organization expelled him in 1990 for being gay. Dale contacted Lambda Legal Defense, which helped him file suit against the BSA.
In 1995, a New Jersey judge ruled against Dale, quoting the Bible and declaring homosexuality “criminal and immoral,” Those remarks generated national media attention.
A state appellate court overturned that decision in 1998, followed by a landmark ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously finding that anti-gay discrimination violates state anti-discrimination laws. The BSA appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and in 2000, a deeply divided court ruled that the Scouts’ right to “free expression and free association” would be violated if they were forced to allow people who do not fit with their definition of moral values to be members of the organization.
Since the ruling, corporations, schools and individuals have disassociated themselves with the BSA, several in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered civil rights. Dale now resides in New York City and is the vice president of a publishing company. He also speaks at schools and universities nationwide about personal empowerment, civil rights and HIV prevention.
“Pride Union has invited James Dale to SU and SUNY ESF because of the relevancy of his case to the LGBT community and its importance to the ‘coming out’ process,” says Thomas Boisvert, a Syracuse University senior and Pride Union’s social events chairperson.