The post I've been trying to avoid writing about Boy Scouts
By Kelly DeBie on August 26, 2012
I really don't want to write this one. I don't.
I'm a hypocrite.
I disagree 100% with the policy decisions that BSA has made about homosexuals, transsexuals, atheists, and more. I cringe every time I see another story in the news about an ousted leader, or about all the Eagle Scouts turning in their badges. I hate that this organization just reaffirmed their exclusion of LGBT individuals, and I hate more that they claim the reason for reaffirmation is that the parents wanted it.
I hate all these things even more because I am a part of it.
My son is a Boy Scout. My husband is an Assistant Scout Master. My brother in law is an Eagle Scout. I have been a fundraising chair. I'm probably about to offer help as a merit badge counselor. I've been the parent of a Scout for six years.
My son absolutely loves being a Boy Scout. Loves it.
He's not my athletic child, and in Scouts he found what he wanted. He loves to camp, he loves to learn new skills, he loves the fellowship with the kids. He led the flag ceremony for the first time a few weeks ago, and just this week earned 4 merit badges and his Tenderfoot. His goal is to make Eagle.
Boy Scouts is the place where kids learn so many things that they wouldn't learn anywhere else in this day and age. Survival skills, first aid, how to shoot a rifle, tomahawk throwing, canoeing, horsemanship. He's built boats and cars and rockets and catapults. He can make a fire, he can right a swamped canoe, he can read a star chart, he can change the oil in a car.
At 11, I'm not sure how much of that he would have learned anywhere else.
I keep hoping and hoping that the leadership at the top of the organization will realize they are on the wrong side of this issue and change. That they will admit they were wrong, that they will apologize to those they have hurt, and that they will take an inclusionary stance instead of one that shoves anyone that doesn't fit inside their tiny little box out.
I keep hoping.
I find myself correcting those who misunderstand the relationship between the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Essentially, there isn't one at all. The two organizations have nothing to do with one another at all. Girl Scouts has taken the complete polar opposite stance of BSA, with a fully inclusionary approach. All girls are welcome, all leaders are welcome. We all sit around the fire and sing kumbaya. With cookies.
Boy Scouts is like that too (without the cookies), but only for those people they choose to embrace. This policy that they hold so firm on, claiming it is at the behest of the parents isn't really. No one has ever asked my opinions on homosexual leadership. This policy has far more to do with the fact that the Boy Scouts are heavily dictated to at the national level by the two largest troop sponsoring organizations: the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church.
Which brings me to my hypocrisy. I stand against this policy with my whole heart, and yet allow and encourage my son's participation.
I rationalize it in my own head like this. The culture of any one specific Boy Scout Troop is determined by two things primarily: 1) the leaders of that Troop and 2) the sponsoring organization. The national leadership really has very little to do with the day to day operation of the Troop.
Aidan spent years in a Cub Scout pack with some uber liberal parents and leaders. The Troop he is in now is graciously sponsored by the First United Congregational Church of Christ, one the few in town that welcomes LGBT people with open arms. We, as parents, talk about LGBT issues with our children. Aidan has friends who have two moms, and to him there is nothing strange, odd or weird about that. There are just two moms. End of discussion.
Children aren't the ones who have issues with homosexuality, the adults are. A person's ability to teach a child how to rock climb, light a fire or tie a knot has nothing to do with who they love. Nothing at all.
I know many, many families that have pulled their sons from scouting because of this issue. I know many that struggle with it like we do. The reality is that BSA has seen fewer and fewer boys join and stay in scouting every year. This organization is rapidly becoming just another antiquated old fashioned, behind the times, hold-out. They are losing their relevance. They are reaching fewer and fewer children who could legitimately benefit from their programs.
They shouldn't. Scouting is important. It provides a place to learn so many things that children often don't have access to anywhere else. And yet, their narrow mindedness shrinks the numbers every year.
I will keep allowing my son to participate in scouting, just as I will continue to put the choice to stay in his hands. I will continue to educate him about fairness and equality and standing up for what we believe in. And I will keep feeling conflicted about it.
I have signed many of the petitions urging reinstatement of leaders and a reversal of this policy on Change.org. I urge you to do the same. The links to the BSA ones can be found here.
Boy Scouts of America, I will not hesitate to pull my son if any of this trickles down to his Troop. I've taught him to be loving and tolerant of all people, and I refuse to let you teach him otherwise.
Please don't make me pull him.
Do the right thing.
First published at http://debiehive.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-post-ive-been-trying-to-avoid.html
Kelly DeBie ~ Blogger, Mom, Superhero
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