To achieve Eagle Scout status, 15-year-old David Fite decided to do a project consisting of two events focusing on the LGBTQ community. They will take place at two locations, Nettlehorst Elementary School on Friday, May 15, and the Center on Halsted a month later on Wed., June 17.
According to Fite, Eagle Scout projects are designed to give back to the community and he chose the LGBTQ community.
"It didn't take a lot of convincing for the Boy Scouts to approve my project. I feel like most of the people I talked with were open to it," said Fite. "I didn't use the words LGBTQ in my proposal because it would've made the project political so I just used the phrases pride flag and pride colors. I just stated what I was doing."
Once his project is finished, Fite will have to submit photos from both events along with an essay of what he did and how this helps the community. Then it gets sent off to the Boy Scout headquarters in Washington D.C. to get signed off on and sent back to Fite. Then a formal review, including an interview, will take place and after that's completed Fite will receive his Eagle Scout badge.
"You just have to do one Eagle Scout project so I'm considering this one big project," said Fite. "I contacted the Center on Halsted first and asked them what I could do to help them but since all their volunteers have to be at least 18 they put me in touch with Nettlehorst so I could get an opportunity to lead a project."
Although Fite wouldn't be able to lead a project at the Center, he decided to help them put together a youth-focused event even though he would have to find another way to achieve his Eagle Scout patch. He is working with Reri Barrett, the campus specialist and trainer at the Center, to plan a pride party for homeless youth ages 14 to 21. The party will feature food, drinks, a DJ, dance contest, free confidential HIV testing and backpacks filled with all the essentials, including Fite's suggestion: bus cards.
"At the Nettlehorst event, we are pinning the pride flag on the fence outside of the school, hanging about 100 disco balls on the trees, planting flower boxes [and] wrapping 10 trees in fabric with one tree being the 'I Dream' tree, where people can fill out a tag with their dream and hang it on the tree," said Fite. "We're also hanging 25-foot-long fabric banners that are all different colors from the trees to the school. An information sheet about me will also be placed outside of the school to make people aware of what I did with this project."
Fite will get a certificate and an Eagle Scout patch during a ceremony at the church where they usually have their Boy Scout meetings. The ceremony will include Fite and two of his friends, and they plan on inviting their family and friends to celebrate this accomplishment.
An LGBTQ ally, Fite was born in 1999 in Chicago and currently attends Ogden International School of Chicago West Campus. He has applied for its International Baccalaureate program and is awaiting a decision.
Fite decided to join the Boy Scouts when he was 8 because his friends, who were also his neighbors, were going to become Boy Scouts and asked him to join with them.
"I've had a pretty amazing time as a scout. I love the friendships that I've formed and the camping," said Fite.
"I have a lot of LGBTQ family members and friends," said Fite. "So when I was 10 or 11, I said I was going to quit the scouts due to their anti-LGBTQ policies but my mom convinced me to help change the policy on gay scouts and scout leaders instead so that's what I did."
To help change the policy on gay scouts, Fite sent letters to the Boy Scouts of America leadership and participated in the social media campaign that took place two years ago. He also told his friends and family members about the policy and encouraged them to reach out so the policy would change.
"I talked to my scout leader, Jerome Laskey, and he was a great help to me during this time," said Fite.
"It was more than a few of us doing this because I go to Boy Scout camp in the summer and even the counselors there were saying they would return their Eagle until the policy changed," said Fite. "I think there were a couple hundred scouts who did the same thing as I did. I'm also involved in the campaign to allow for LGBTQ scout leaders."
Fite noted that he decided to stay in scouting when many other young people fall away from scouting because he wanted to compete with his friends since they are all working on becoming Eagle Scouts.
"They've encouraged me to keep going and I felt like I've gone so far already I couldn't really stop at the Life Scout level," said Fite.
"I feel like my project is good for the Boy Scouts," said Fite. "It shows that they're becoming more open minded than before."
Fite is more than a Scout. He is also on his school's swim team with some of his friends, and spends the rest of his time studying and enjoying all that the city has to offer.
As for the future, Fite plans to attend college. "I'm thinking about Northwestern because I want to go into pre-med and become a doctor," said Fite. "As far as being an activist, I feel like I will stay close to the LGBTQ community and try and help them out in any way I can."