BSA has been getting a lot of bad press lately. I’m not sure how much the general public pays attention to Scouts in the news but having a daily Google News alert on it I see quite a bit. Whether its the Ineligible Volunteer files (just one of the youth protection tools that I think are being twisted out of context) or the recent reassertion of the Scouts (US only) policy on no homosexuals, every day I see more and more. Buried between those stories are the heroic stories of Scouts themselves, saving lives and strengthening their community.
The homosexuality issue has gone as far as the Supreme Court that came out (no pun intended) in favor of the BSA as being able to set whatever membership standards it chooses as a private organization. The company line of the BSA is that matters of sexuality are a family matter and discussion of such has no place in the BSA program.
While I’ve had some sympathy for people like Jen Tyrell who was forced out because of her status, she and other adults knew going in that if you want to wear the khaki then you’re agreeing to play by the BSA rules. And that isn’t to say that I agree with the exclusionary rule itself at all.
Recently I heard of a story of a Scout, 17, who had recently completed all the requirements for Eagle Scout. He also recently came out and announced “publicly” (within his limited community) as being homosexual. His Scoutmaster has refused to sign the paperwork acknowledging he Scout attainment of Eagle.
I thought about what I would do if it were one of my Scouts that had the courage to come out in our community and I’d have to say I’d be signing that paperwork without a doubt. What’s the message that’s being sent here when a Scout that’s completed every requirement for the top Scout rank, including an Eagle project that focused on tolerance in the community and then to say you’re not worthy of this honor because you’ve made a decision to love the opposite sex. How is that young man not supposed to feel like he is less of a person solely because of his sexual orientation when by all other standards he was a model Scout. How is that living by the Law that has been core you our program for 100 years.
A Scout is:
Trustworthy, – how is this Scout to feel like he could trust an adult that let him go through all the motions of being a Scout only to pull his support for the Scout when he needed it most.
Loyal, – what’s more important, to be loyal to a young man that you’ve spent years training to be a leader or to a policy that is long overdue for amendment
Helpful, – Well in this case the Scoutmaster has only been helpful in bringing even more attention to the hypocrisy of his position.
Friendly, – I hope that the Scouts themselves in his Troop are not influenced by this “leadership” and consider this Scout to be any less of a friend than he was.
Courteous, & Kind, – Exclusionary discrimination is practically the opposite of these very tenets.
Obedient, – well the leader is being obedient to the letter of the law regardless of conscience.
Cheerful, – I hope the Scout can be cheerful at least knowing that many people in his community and out support him in being worthy if the prestigious rank he has earned.
Thrifty, (ok so maybe one principle of the law that doesn’t come into play)
Brave, – If coming out as homosexual as a teenager to an unsupportive community isn’t brave I don’t know what is.
Clean and Reverent. – Can anyone really say this young man is anything less to God because of his orientation?
I wonder how many members of our community see these stories and because of these it’s the face of Boy Scouts to them. Having been a Scout leader in our relatively small town going on 9 years now, anyone in the community from the grocery clerks to the mayor know me as the “Scout guy”. How many would think that I agree with this kind of discrimination solely on my association with the Scouts. How many families wouldn’t support their sons being Scouts because of this image.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m wondering myself how much longer I can be a representative of a group that refuses to acknowledge the bigotry of it’s past and move forward to a new era of consideration. If it weren’t for my commitment to the Scouts in my troop now and my responsibilities as a mentor to them I’d probably have hung up my uniform already.
If you’d like more information on this particular case or would like to sign the petition supporting this Scout please visit change.org
Patches seen above available via inclusivescouting.net