The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 25, 2013

Mifflinburg grad makes video urging Scouts to open ranks

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— NEW YORK CITY — Inspired by his time in Scouting while growing up in New Berlin, a videographer has pieced together a five-minute video about the value of the Boy Scouts organization and how it should be open to everyone, without regard to sexual orientation.

“I did the video because I saw that there was this controversy about gays in the Boy Scouts,” said Eagle Scout Todd Bieber, now of New York City. “But there shouldn’t be. There should be a place for everyone in the Boy Scouts because the organization is all about learning how to be a good citizen, a good leader. And when it comes to being a good person, there is no difference, gay or straight. Scouting can be a positive thing for everybody involved.”

The video, which can be seen on You Tube, took weeks to make. “It’s very personal,” he said. “It’s about my life.”

Bieber described himself as a “nerdy kid” in the Mifflinburg school system. “I had kind of a rough time there. I got picked on a lot,” he said. “Becoming a Boy Scout helped me find myself. My Boy Scout experience was amazing and probably was one of the most important parts of my life and childhood. I have such great support for the organization. It’s a great place for kids to learn. So, yeah, I loved it.”

News that the Boy Scouts of America may approve a resolution at its annual convention that would allow gays to become Scouts struck Beiber as being long overdue. The second part of the proposal, putting an age limit on gays in Scouting, seems not to make sense, he added.

“I am excited that they might be opening the doors to everyone,” he said. “It’s important to have that opportunity. Straight kids, gay kids, everybody. There should be a place for them all in Scouting. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that you can be a good Scout up until age 18 and then all of a sudden you are a bad Scout.”

Bieber works as a video producer for some heavyweight comedians in New York, including some of the “Saturday Night Live” crowd. “I have friends and colleagues who are gay but who would make great role models for kids. Because being a leader has nothing to do with one’s sexual preference. It has to do with values and growing up positive,” he said.

The video has gotten reactions, both positive and negative.

“People are welcome to their opinions,” he said. “I just hope the video inspires dialogue. What I have found most gratifying are the emails I’ve gotten from kids who were like me, in Scouting. And they’ve gone through what I went through growing up, gaining confidence. If this video will help some kids along the way, then I’ll consider it a big success.”