The definitive story of the movement for LGBTQ inclusion in the Boy Scouts of America.

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Morally Straight

How the Fight for LGBTQ Inclusion Changed the Boy Scouts—And America

A deeply-reported narrative that illuminates the battle for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Boy Scouts of America, a decades-long struggle led by teenagers, parents, activists, and everyday Americans.

Weaving in his own experience as a scout and journalist, Mike De Socio’s Morally Straight tells a story that plays out over the course of twenty-five years, beginning in an era when gay rights were little more than a cultural sideshow; when same sex marriage was not even on the radar; and when much of the country was recommitting to conservative social mores. It was during this treacherous time that accidental activists emerged, challenging one of America’s most iconic institutions in a struggle that would forever change the country’s view of gay people and the rights they held in society.

In Morally Straight we meet James Dale, the poster child of Scouting who took his fight for inclusion to the Supreme Court; Steven Cozza, the 12-year-old scout in California who started a movement for inclusion called Scouting for All; Jennifer Tyrrell, the lesbian den mother whose expulsion from the Scouts reignited the gay membership controversy; Zach Wahls, the son of lesbian moms who led the final push for policy change; and an array of other previously unknown scouters who played smaller — but no less crucial — roles in the fight for full inclusion.

Through original interviews and reporting, Morally Straight braids together these characters and brings to life their collective struggle. This is an essential narrative in the American LGBTQ+ rights movement — and a truly American story about the fight for a better future for our nation’s bedrock youth organization.

About the author

Mike De Socio is an award-winning, independent journalist telling stories about LGBTQ+ community.

He’s also an eagle scout, and has spent the better part of 20 years involved in the Boy Scouts of America, in one way or another. As a queer person himself, Mike approaches this book with a unique empathy for the program and its members. But he also keeps his feet firmly planted in the world of journalism, bringing to this story a critical eye and a rock-solid foundation in original reporting.

Mike’s career path has taken him through almost every part of the newsroom, where he’s worked as a photographer, writer, reporter and editor. As a freelancer, his work has been published in The Washington PostBloombergThe GuardianFortuneInsiderXtraYES! Magazine and beyond.

He’s a graduate of Boston University, and has received awards from the Boston Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and Boston University. He was also a Fall 2021 Logan Nonfiction Program fellow.

Mike lives with his partner in upstate New York, where he spends most of his free time hiking around the Adirondacks, or figuring out how to get places almost exclusively by bike.

Learn more about Mike here.