Goodbye Boy Scouts

This is a long time coming and a little more difficult that I imagined it would be just a short while ago. The Boy Scouts have provided my family and me a lot of good, ranging from my Grandfather working for them after getting out of the military, to my Uncle’s extreme success, to my Cousin’s World Jamboree trip, to no less than five Eagle Scout achievements in the last 50 years – including my own. I completely understand all of the good that comes from the BSA, and because of it’s influence on my life, I feel completely ashamed of the organization today and embarrassed by any affiliation that I still hold.

For almost 15 years, I have been advocating – sometimes publicly, mostly privately – for the Boy Scouts to drop it’s anti-homosexual policies…and it’s even cost me personal relationships. Recently it appeared that there would be a breakthrough, lead by massive corporate sponsorship departures, where the policy would be reversed. Then, just prior to the potential game changing vote, the BSA delayed the decision due to pressures from the Mormon and Catholic churches, along with conservative politicians. During the delay, the Boy Scouts promised that they would poll the current membership (interesting how no polling was done of any former members, like lifetime Eagle Scout members) to see what the direction should be. The results came in and the BSA announced yesterday the vote that they will put out on a policy change: all, repeat: all, kids can join. No, repeat: no, homosexual adults can join.

Times up. Game over. The Boy Scouts went against nearly all of it’s core teachings – not doing what is right, but rather what is most likely not going to piss off the overly religious. While any child may join, there are kids who will have to face the questions about why their parents would be unable to participate. The presumption here is that openly gay parents are somehow harmful to the kids and therefore should not be able to participate. Let’s call it what it is: a gigantic pile of steaming conservative minded bull shit.

In an article on Slate.com, the writer describes the perspective of a gay youth now being open in the Boy Scouts looking towards the leaders of the troop for inspiration and mentoring. Unfortunately, there isn’t  someone that he can look at and see his future self. A strong gay role model for boys is not something to fear, rather showing how a man has left a secret closeted life behind and found new purpose as an open leader in the community is a position to be celebrated. This is a time where society is rejecting the notion of secret sexual orientation, yet the Boy Scouts are hardening it in stone.

The Boy Scout Oath requires being a good citizen. The Boy Scout Law says that you will be – among other things –  Friendly, Courteous, Kind, and Brave. The Boy Scout Slogan tells you to do a good turn daily. Having these instilled as a youth, and seeing how that very organization ignores them is a betrayal on a grand scale.

This policy change isn’t even guaranteed as there is still a vote that needs to happen.  Assuming that it passes, or at least the policy eventually changes to reflect allowing gay youth, the BSA has reaffirmed it’s policy of bigotry and slight (and not just in the realm of sexual orientation: atheists and agnostics are also forbid to join).

There is a great aura that surrounds the Boy Scouts in the public eye. It’s perceived as some sort of pure, innocent, good teaching, fundamental instilling, do-gooder organization. It’s still widely accepted in schools, in cities and communities, and in neighborhoods. Local retailers still allow them to stand in front of their business to do the latest fundraiser, and fire departments and city sponsored gathering spaces still allow them to occupy space for events. There isn’t another openly discriminatory organization that gets a pass like this one, and it’s time that it stops. As I have said prior, the courts have affirmed the BSA’s opportunity to teach discrimination to it’s youth – that’s not currently in question –  but it’s time for society to finally turn a blind eye to this group just like it would to any other group that has the same policies.

And for me? I’m done with them. I’m done supporting anything that they do or stand for. There are other ways to give children the opportunity to learn the positive skills that the BSA has taught me, without having bigotry instilled as part of them. As Ezra is only a few years away from Cub Scout age, we will seek those other avenues and walk away from an organization that is fundamentally unwilling to be accepting. It’s a sad and embarrassing moment for me.

Recently, I was in the basement looking for something and stumbled on all of the things that I have kept from my Boy Scout days….good memories of good times came flooding back…but I was almost ashamed to still have most of that stuff in my possession. The stuff felt dirty, not because of my time in the scouts, but because of how the organization has pushed a non-inclusive agenda. While I will still keep some of those things, as that time is part of who I am, there will be a purging of all BSA related materials because it’s time to move on.

I still believe that the Boy Scouts could have a place in modern society, but they are unwilling to participate. Sure, there is a good chance that when enrolled homosexual boys grow up, that the policies towards adult will change, but that’s potentially a generation away…and that’s presuming that the BSA will get out of bed with conservative religion. Those are two things that I’m not willing to hang my hat on.

So, goodbye Boy Scouts. I hope that someday you will awake from this stupor of discrimination.

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Comments

  1. Jan Onieal says:

    Majestic wording, and it couldn’t have been written any better. So very well said, Oren. Kudos. I wonder if you would consider publishing it, even though it is so very personal. I applaud you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Well said, and ultimately a bad decision for them. Here’s hoping change comes sooner than later.

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