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Scout's Honor

by Tom Shepard

The struggle to overturn anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America

Scout's Honor traces the conflict between the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America and the broad-based movement by many of its members to overturn them. The story is told predominantly through the experiences of a 13-year old boy and a 70-year-old man -- both heterosexual, both dedicated to the Scouts, and both determined to change the course of Scouting history. Their challenge is being waged in their hometown of Petaluma, California -- a place more familiar with agriculture than activism. Yet it is here where they began an international petition drive and media campaign to overturn the BSA's anti-gay policy. "To be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight," this is the Boy Scout Oath. Since 1910, millions of boys have joined. But today, if you are openly gay, you can't. Witness how Steven Cozza, a 13-year-old Boy Scout, launches a grassroots campaign to overturn the ban on gays. Scouting for All is the movement built by Cozza with the help of a long-time Scout leader, community members, and his own family. Also included are the stories of ousted gay Eagle Scouts Tim Curran and James Dale, whose legal cases culminated at the United States Supreme Court where a private organization's right to determine its membership was heard against a state's right to protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens. Moving from Petaluma, California to the Supreme Court, the film chronicles a modern interpretation of the Scouting ideals of courage, citizenship, and honor.

quoteA brilliant and personal account in the sociology of a modern-day civil rights movement, this film offers lessons that few textbooks could ever inspire.
Estelle Freedman
Professor of History
Stanford University

quoteDepicts the bravery of ordinary Americans in the face of obvious and disheartening discrimination. This film moves and educates, informs and incites: it should be required viewing for all incoming university students!
Professor Suzanna Danuta Walters
Director, Women's Studies, Georgetown University

quoteNo one, gay or straight, can understand the moral and legal issues raised by the Boy Scouts' exclusion of gay people without viewing SCOUT'S HONOR. This is one of the most moving and intelligent documentaries I have ever seen.
Bill Eskridge
Deputy Dean and John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence
Yale Law School

quoteIt's not an easy thing to be a heterosexual male standing up for gays, especially at such a young age. As the film illustrates, people automatically assume you must be gay if you're fighting for gay rights. I admire people who take on issues that are not necessarily their own.
Alycia Nicholas
Undergraduate Student, University of Colorado

quoteSCOUT'S HONOR offers a vital and dramatic illustration of democracy at the grassroots level. This film should be a regular feature of courses in sociology, politics, and American studies.
Larry Gross
The Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

More Reviews


  • National PBS Broadcast, P.O.V. series
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary & The Freedom of Expression Award, Sundance Film Festival
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary, San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
  • Grand Prize Winner - Non Fiction Film, USA Film Festival
  • Audience Award: Best Documentary, Turin Int?l Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Miami Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
  • Special Mention for Documentary, New Fest: New York City
  • Special U. S. Congressional Screening for members of Congress, hosted by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA), Representative Barney

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