Carly Hamilton said she was visiting Nichols Hardware in Purcellville, Virginia, on Friday when she witnessed an employee kicking a Boy Scout and his father out of the store. The young man, who has not been identified, was attempting to raise money for an Eagle Scout project.
“I thought it was a joke,” Hamilton told local news station WUSA 9. “All of a sudden, the guy behind the counter interrupts the kid loudly, and says, ‘You need to get out of here. We don’t support organizations like you, or yours.’”
The employee, Hamilton recalled, then told the scout, “We do not support your organization. Your organization is not the Boy Scouts anymore.”
Immediately after the altercation, Hamilton said, the employee told her, “We don’t support homos. They allow homos in the Boy Scouts now.”
After the story broke on Monday, Nichols Hardware’s social media accounts were inundated with angry comments. “Bigoted homophobic employees,” one person wrote on the company’s Yelp page, which the site is monitoring. “Terrible staff and management. Hope to see this place out of business soon.” Wrote another, “Clearly you employ bigoted trash in your stores and call them employees ... Everyone’s money is green no matter who they love, support or vote for.”
In an interview with the Washington Post that day, a store manager acknowledged that the allegations were “costing us business” but seemed unaware of the controversy that had broken out online. By Tuesday, however, the store wrote on its Facebook page that the employee involved in the alleged incident had been terminated, adding that the company “deeply regrets any disrespect to any organization or person.”
In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America’s membership policies have undergone a series of revisions. This month, the 108-year-old organization announced it will drop the word “boy” from its Boy Scouts program, for 11-to-17-year-olds, calling it Scouts BSA instead. It will start accepting girls in February 2019, when the name change will take effect. Boys and girls will be divided into separate units.
The organization’s Cub Scouts program, for 7-to-10-year-olds, will admit girls for the first time this summer.
Not everyone is thrilled, however. A day after the name change was announced, Republican Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams blasted the organization for caving in to “left-wing social engineers who want to remove the concept of male masculinity from society.”
“Liberals tell us that masculinity is ‘toxic’ and that girls can be boys and boys should no longer be boys,” said Williams, who is a candidate in his state’s gubernatorial primary this month.
On May 9, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would end its long relationship with the Boy Scouts, though it was unclear whether the name change played a factor.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated the Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth participants in 2016. This change took place in 2014.