Hardworking. Honest. Helpful. Respectful.
These are just a few of the many characteristics people associate with being a Boy Scout.
As one of the country's biggest youth organizations, the Boy Scouts of America is a household name that holds a lot of significance for young boys and men. For many, it isn't just an American pastime; it's a rite of passage.
So what happens when you realize a group that is seemingly integral to your identity growing up doesn't accept you for who you are?
Liam has been a Boy Scout since age 11. He's also gay.
Despite having a rough start with scouting (during his first camping trip with his brother, he cried — but at least now he looks back on that moment and laughs), he loved being a part of his troop.
About a year later, Liam started to come out to his classmates at school as gay, but he hesitated to come out to his troop because he knew how homophobic the Boy Scouts organization was.
Liam almost didn't get to reach his goal of joining the top ranks of the scouts.
Despite the Boy Scouts' policy, Liam chose not to hide his sexual orientation. With his officially becoming an Eagle Scout on the line, he agreed to be interviewed for his high school newspaper about his experience as a gay scout, even though leadership warned him that he might get kicked out for it and lose his chance.
He did the interview anyway.
Luckily, Liam was able to become an Eagle Scout. But the fight for acceptance of gay folks in the organization is not over.
That means dedicated scouts like Liam are banned from giving back to the Boy Scouts as adult volunteers just for being gay. What kind of message is the Boy Scouts sending to young men if they're suddenly unacceptable the second they turn 18?
It looks like the bravery of people like Liam is having an impact. The Boy Scouts' president called for the ban on gay leaders to be lifted. Here's hoping that soon we'll see the organization's board vote to allow amazing individuals to be members — regardless of their sexual orientation.