So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why We Will Stay in Boy Scouts

First of all, let me tell you what you won’t find in this article: my opinion on whether or not BSA should have adopted their new policy about sexual orientation. The policy is adopted; that ship has sailed. The only question now is how each of us responds.

Instead, I am going to give you the three reasons why my son and I will stay in Boy Scouts now that the policy is being adopted. Not everyone will agree, and some have even stated that anyone keeping their son in BSA is an “unfit parent”. These are my reasons, and no one else's. Nonetheless, I hope to give people a reason to slow down and think before they just react.

Things will be the same now as it was a year ago.  There were gay boys in Scouting a year ago, and they have been successful young men in their Scouting careers. They make Eagle. They earn merit badges. They go on campouts with other boys. This all happens without incident. That will not  change, because the keeping one’s self morally straight has to do with activity, not orientation. The only difference now is that a boy’s orientation may be known, rather than kept secret. At the same time, I believe that the boys already know who is gay and who isn’t. They just aren’t telling the adults.

Ideology is left at the door.  At least in our troop, scouts and leaders do not espouse political or religious ideology as part of the Scouting experience.  The focus is on citizenship and leadership: principles that are universally accepted in this county.  Sexual ideology will be no different.  (We do expect the boys to be reverent, but without a preference for any religion or denomination.  "Reverence" also includes respect for the religious beliefs of others.)

Boys Scouts has so much to offer, that nothing compares. Boy Scouts of America offers a program that teaches leadership through adventure that will be very hard to match anywhere else. There will be parallel organizations that come to be; there already are. Will they have organized summer camp programs? Will they have a camp in the middle of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? Will they have a Philmont? Will there be a national jamboree, which allows a boy to see thousands of other Scouts all living the same Scout Law and Scout Oath? More importantly, will they have the training infrastructure that not only turns boys into leaders and outdoorsmen, but also establishes safety policies (including youth protection policies) for the process?

This new policy may be a national policy, but it will be implemented at the local level.  The only time I have ever seen national BSA representatives inspecting for compliance on policy was at a council camp. (As I understand it, the camp was going to be a common overnight stop on the way to the new national camp, and the inspectors were making sure it would suffice.) The only time I have seen council representatives visit a troop is for Eagle Boards of Review or fundraising. By and large, troops operate independently, and are more influenced by their chartering organization (church, school or civic group). BSA adopting this new policy at the national level will have little impact on any one troop’s acceptance of gay boys.  If you are looking for a troop that doesn't accept gays, I am sure they will still be out there.  If you are looking for a "gay-friendly" troop, they will come to be. 

I may be wrong.  It may come to pass that BSA becomes an ideologically charged organization.  If that comes to pass, we will leave.  Understand, however, this will be true for any ideology that is sponsored - "conservative" or "liberal".  We are not in Scouting for morality lessons.  I have other means of accomplishing the moral teaching of my son, thank you.

In the end, the best way to make sure BSA is a good organization for your son is to get involved.  Get to know the boys and leaders who are going to be a part of your son's Scouting experience.  Scouting isn't for everyone.  You can leave if you or your son is uncomfortable.   

We're staying.

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