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This man's dedication to the Boy Scouts shows just how ridiculous their ban on gay leaders is.

It doesn't take a genius to see how cruel it is to have someone spend all their time serving a group that has no plans to love them back.

This man's dedication to the Boy Scouts shows just how ridiculous their ban on gay leaders is.

Hardworking. Honest. Helpful. Respectful.

These are just a few of the many characteristics people associate with being a Boy Scout.


Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

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.

Geoff McGrath had his scout membership revoked for being gay. GIF from "Clipped Wings."

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.

Watch the entire documentary "Clipped Wings" to learn more about the fight against homophobia in the Boy Scouts:

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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