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Gay Scout Wants Nat Geo To Scarlet Letter Series

Reality competition show featuring Boy Scouts targeted by activist

Will Oliver, who made news recently for giving back his Eagle Scout badge in protest of the Boy Scouts' anti-gay stance, is now crying foul over a new reality series proposed by Nat Geo.

The cable channel is preparing to release "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout," where everyday people will test their strength against actual members of the Boy Scouts. And while the series itself seems to have no part in the overall debate of who the Boy Scouts lets in as members, Oliver feels Nat Geo should include a disclaimer about the discriminatory practices of the organization.

"The Boy Scouts' policy membership states explicitly that openly gay scouts and leaders cannot join -- they can be gay, but they have to be in the closet, and expressions of sexual orientation are not welcome," Oliver said.

His fear is that viewers may surmise that gay people cannot be tough, as only straight Scouts would be depicted in each episode. And Oliver says he wants to make sure that people know that it's not the case.

"The thing that gets me is that the image of [Nat Geo's] show and branding being all about how Boy Scouts are tough," Oliver told The New York Post. "I've done some pretty gritty things. I'm gay, and I'm an Eagle Scout, and I did it. I want to be clear that being tough and being a Boy Scout does not exclude gay people."

The request, however, may be a little extreme, even for an advocacy group. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which usually looks for high-profile issues to speak out on, has remained mum on the Nat Geo series. Even Nat Geo -- which Oliver admits is very diverse in its hiring practices when it comes to the gay and lesbian community -- says this protest is much ado about nothing.

"We do not discriminate in any capacity," the cable channel said in a statement. "As it relates to our upcoming show with the Boy Scouts, we certainly appreciate all points of view on the topic. But when people see our show, they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate, and is, in fact, a competition series between individual scouts and civilians."

Nat Geo is majority owned by Fox Cable Networks, which actually works more on the distribution and marketing side of the channel, while the National Geographic Society runs the programming side of the channel.

The Boy Scouts of America have always banned openly homosexuals from membership and leadership positions, and even won a Supreme Court case in 2000 that allowed it to maintain those practices as a private organization. While gays and lesbians are the most prominent minorities banned from the organization, the Boy Scouts has also taken issue against atheists and agnostics as well.

The reality series, hosted by former Marine Charles Ingram, has yet to receive a premiere date from Nat Geo.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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