The Boy Scouts of America are celebrating their 100th anniversary right now. They are celebrating by having their annual local camporees, and by having the every 4 year National Jamboree in Virginia (one that I went to in 92). They are celebrating by having stories on almost every news program for the past 24 hours. They are also celebrating by not talking about the fact that they are a discriminatory organization that preaches bigotry from it’s highest ranks.
Did that get the blood flowing a little? I know that there are a lot of you that read this blog that spent a lot of time (and still do) in, around, and with Boy Scouts. As a matter of fact, that is how I know a lot of you – life long friends made through my time in a troop. For those that don’t know, I spent my entire youth affiliated with the Boy Scouts…all of the way through Cub Scouts, through Weblows, and through the ranks of Boy Scouts until I earned my Eagle Scout rank. I was a crew leader for a Philmont trek, and subsequently worked at Philmont for the summer of 1994. Never in my time in Boy Scouts was it apparent or obvious to me the national policies that are so wrong….especially the incredibly aggressive policy prohibiting homosexual leaders or scouts (only in America, by the way. Canadian scouting allows for homosexual membership).
Before you get into it, I know that the Supreme Court upheld the BSA’s ability to have this stance – because they are a ‘private’ organization (so private that they are often sponsored by public institutions and often meets in schools, fire stations, etc). Just because they have the legal right to do it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, for an organization that is still seemingly so influential in our society – Obama was supposed to speak at the National Jamboree tonight before having to cancel at the last minute – it makes it even more wrong for their stances. The BSA is an organization that has so aggressively defended these ideas, that bigotry has become part of it’s dogma.
As the BSA celebrates it’s 100th anniversary, there is no better time than now to grow up. Show all of your members a shining example of leadership and change – in spite of the incredibly influential Catholic and Mormon members. Drop your prejudice, your intolerance, and your ignorant ways. Allow for different opinions on religion. Allow for homosexual members. Allow for different genders (sacrosanct, I know). Learn from the Canadian or Swedish scouts and they great successes that they have. Change, change, change. For if you don’t, you can count on two guarantees: no child of mine will be part of any of your groups until you do; and in 50 years your membership will only consist of religious and conservative zealots.
PS – A quick note to all news organizations, cities, towns, public or private groups: by supporting the Boy Scouts in your area, you are supporting their beliefs. There is no way around it. And until you stop, change will be nearly impossible to come by.