James Beard Foundation President Returns Award to Boy Scouts

Earlier today I wrote about how the president of the prestigious James Beard Foundation, Susan Ungaro, had accepted an award from the Boy Scouts of America, which bans gay scouts and gay scoutmasters. It was especially troubling considering that the legendary chef and cookbook writer James Beard was an openly gay man who was thrown out of Reed College in Portland in 1922 for precisely the same reason: because he was gay.

I'd reached out to Susan Ungaro through her PR representative for an explanation and reported her representative's response, also opining that I didn't believe that someone so respected in the food industry, which includes many gay people, could really have knowingly supported an anti-gay organization. And I asked if she would be returning the award to the Boy Scouts. The post was up for only a few hours when I received a note from Ms. Ungaro telling me that she is in fact doing just that:

While I support all the poverty and hunger-fighting programs of the Boy Scouts of America, including sending at-risk youth to camp, your report brought to my attention that accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not. When I accepted the honor, I was focused on supporting the New Jersey chefs and restaurant community.

I have informed the Boy Scouts of America that I am rescinding my acceptance of the award.

It takes a person of great integrity to make a decision like that. Thank you, Susan Ungaro, for standing up to bigotry.

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