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In "Scout's Honor," a young man takes on the Boy Scouts of America.

Making Waves

There aren't many heroes around these days. In truth, there are hardly any.

What's a hero, anyway? Sometimes it's somebody who was in the right place at the right time and did something commonplace that anybody else who happened to be there would have done. It could be just some guy walking along the street who grabbed a toddler who was about to dart into traffic. The guy didn't set out to become a hero at all. It just happened.

Or it could be somebody like Scott Cozza. He didn't set out to be a hero, but he did realize he was taking a risk. When you do what he did, how can it not be a risk?

Scott was 12 when he took the first step towards being a hero. He seemed to be an ordinary kid from a good family. Petaluma, Calif., is his hometown, and Scott is a member of Boy Scout Troop 74.

Scott worked hard to live up to the Boy Scout oath, to be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. He was a bright kid, and it looked like rank came his way effortlessly. He made Life Scout and then set Eagle Scout as his goal.

Then he began to make waves.

Big waves.

And he took a risk.

A big risk.

In 1998, Scott launched a campaign to overturn the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy. He didn't think the ban on gay Scouts was in keeping with what he'd learned as a Scout. The grassroots group Scott launched is "Scouting for All."

The risk for Scott was that everybody would automatically assume he was gay.

He's not.

But that didn't stop the bigots from labeling him. He's even gotten some very scary death threats on the telephone.

Scott's campaign, now gaining nationwide attention, has not stopped his advance in rank. Now 15, he's already an Eagle Scout. But it did get his dad kicked out as assistant scoutmaster of Scott's troop. Nobody ever told him why, but he knows, and so does Scott.

Scott summed up his passion for "Scouting for All" at his Eagle Scout ceremony. First he told a joke on those who think young Scouts shouldn't be around gays. "My dad went to Catholic schools, and he was taught by nuns. But he never became a nun."

Then he asked for a moment of silence, first for all of those gay youths who have taken their lives because of rejection, and then for all of the gay Scouts who have to hide who they are.

Filmmaker Tom Shepard's brilliant and moving hour-long tribute to Scott Cozza, "Scout's Honor," tracks Scott's efforts from his first public statements as a 12-year-old to the present state of the "Scouting for All" movement. In addition, it traces the history of the broader battle to change the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gays.

In Shepard's award-winning video essay, the BSA falls flat on its face.

And Scott, despite last year's Supreme Court ruling upholding the BSA ban, is a winner with a million-watt smile.

He's also a reminder that not all heroes are accidental.

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