My husband is an Eagle Scout – he has achieved the highest honor available to Boy Scouts. He recounts tales of Scout camping trips, local meetings and activities and endless hours of outdoor fun and learning. Scouting was a major part of his childhood, but it isn’t going to be a part of our son’s childhood experience.
We have decided that we cannot support nor donate our time, energy, and money to an organization that has a policy explicitly stating that it will not grant membership to open or avowed homosexuals.
The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization; it has the right to create rules for membership. I don’t challenge that. What I challenge is the notion that a person’s sexuality has any bearing on his or her ability to participate in scouting activities. Is a gay person less capable of starting a campfire than a straight person? Or perhaps the openly gay scout is just genetically incapable of tying knots or completing service projects?
From what I understand, the reason for only including closeted homosexuals is to make sure that the idea of homosexuality is introduced in the proper place: the home and by the parents in the way that they wish to explain it.
I find this logic baffling for several reasons. The first is that I would honestly prefer that talk of any scoutmaster’s sexuality is off-limits to the scouts. I would find it wholly inappropriate for a straight scoutmaster to talk of his heterosexual weekend conquests with my seven-year-old. What kid that age needs to hear a person in a leadership position talking about sex, anyway?
The second is that, as a parent, you don’t always have a say in the kinds of things to which your child is exposed. I suppose that if you keep your kids ensconced away from the world, hidden away like Rapunzel in a tower, they might not encounter something that you disagree with or disapprove of, but how likely is that? They will hear music you don’t like, they will hear language you think is crass, and they will learn things from all around them when you’re not with them. When you become a parent, you are automatically a volunteer in the School of Difficult Discussions. You talk with your child and help them define their morals – believe it or not, this is a more effective lesson when their morals are challenged.
My third point is that this reeks of the old lies that being gay is equivalent to being a pedophile or to having the uncontrollable urge to seduce every person in your gender. And that is just simply wrong. Being gay is not a medical condition nor is it a psychological disorder.
The ruling by the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America seems tremendously unfair to the scouts who began with the organization as young children and who want to come out as teenagers or even when they are scoutmasters – can’t they imagine a teen having to choose between coming out to be who he is and staying closeted to participate in the Scout troop to which he has dedicated so much of his time and talent?
For all of these reasons, we will be taking a pass when it comes to the Boy Scouts. It might be within their right as a private organization to discriminate against gays, but it is within my right as a parent to condemn ignorance, discrimination, and bigotry. My morals suggest to me to teach my son tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation for the world around him – including people of all backgrounds.
Besides, I’m pretty sure my husband can teach him how to start a campfire and tie a bazillion knots. He’d just better hand me the compass, because his sense of direction is lousy.