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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:

Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I'm a bit of a pen snob. Even if I'm just making a list, I look for a pen that grips well, flows well, doesn't put too much or too little ink into the paper, is responsive-but-not-too-responsive to pressure, and doesn't suddenly stop working mid-stroke.

In other words, the average cheap ballpoint pen is out. (See? Snob.)

However, Oscar Ukono is making me reevaluate my pen snobbery. Because while I'm over here turning up my nose at the basic Bic, he's using them to create things like this:

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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