Morally Straight: Author Talk with Mike DeSocio

Join us at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 10th, at Gerber/Hart for an author conversation with journalist Mike DeSocio about Morally Straight: How the Fight for LGBTQ Inclusion Changed the Boy Scouts—And America. Mike will be joined in conversation by Mary E. Anderson & Cate Lujan Readling, co-founders of Oak Park Scouts for Equality.


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.


Mary E. Anderson isa strategist and nonprofit organization management specialist, with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and government sectors as an executive, a consultant, and as a coach of nonprofit leaders. Mary is currently Chicago Director of AARP. Mary currently serves on the Board of Directors, and just finished her term as Board President, of Disability Lead, a national organization for leaders with disabilities, as well as the LGBT Victory Campaign Board. Mary has also served on the Boards of Center on Halsted (Board Secretary, Chair of Board Governance Committee); Scouts for Equality (National Board Secretary); and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice (Board Chair).


Cate Lujan Readling (she/her) is a community organizer for dignified and equitable health care for all.  Cate’s path into organizing formed in the fight for inclusivity and equity in Scouting when the Boy Scouts of America declared a ban on gay Scouts and Leaders. She knew things had to change. At the time she had twins who had just completed first grade Cub Scouts, and she wanted the organization her family loved to live up to its stated ideals. She knew it would have to do better if it would survive and thrive. Today, because of her work and the work of many others, those two Cub Scouts are now Eagle Scouts, and the organization includes LGBTQIA+ members and leaders. Cate still organizes the Color Guard for Chicago’s Pride Parade.