The Boy Scouts

by Brittany on April 10, 2012

in Parenting

As a parent, we have the crappy job of making decisions regarding our kids. Most of the time, they are super easy, like if they’ll buy lunch that day, or if they should wear a jacket.

Other decisions are trickier, like if they can play at Joe’s house even though his dad has guns, or if they’ll attend private or public school.

It’s hard as hell, and I could ask 100 different parents and get 100 different answers.

The fact is, there is no right answer, only your answer. One you often make in a caffeine induced stupor and three day old underwear, surrounded by little people you wish would just shut up for five fucking minutes so you could have a coherent thought that’s not set to the tune of a Yo Gabba Gabba song, although, admittedly… all my sex dreams are now done to the soundtrack of Try It, You’ll Like It!

I would say, overall, I have a 70/30 parental success rate, which sounds low, but it’s not. I mean, there are no books on this… alright yeah, there are actually tons of books on this, but seriously, who has time to read them, they’re incredibly dull and if I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go into an Anthropology and try to fit into stuff.

Andy and I make decisions for our kids together, turning to google if we need a third party moderator, which we seldom do. His level headed nature and my flamboyant idealism usually produce decisions that don’t end in death or loss of custody or permanent body modifications.

Yesterday, Jude came home in a tizzy of excitement about campfires and pizza and bee-bee guns and catapults, which, admittedly, all sound awesome. Where on Earth can you get all those awesome things? Boy Scouts. For $12 a year plus uniforms and badges and other random fees, you can have camping and dirt and building things and shooting stuff and boys and debauchery and fun.

I was a girl scout for years, and had the pleasure of working for the organization after college, and I am chomping at the bit for Gigi to be old enough to join. They have a great message, they stand for and teach amazing things, and they sell cookies that I like to eat.

Win, win, win.

But when Jude asked to join Boy Scouts, my heart hurt…because I knew we might have to tell him no. In fact, in my head, I was already screaming no, no way, absolutely not, not happening. But, I have this almost-six year old beautiful boy in front of me, who’s bursting at the seams to see his friends at meetings and get a free mini catapult for joining.

And suddenly things got harder. I remember my brother was in Boy Scouts for a year or two, and he would go away to camp and participate in the Pine Wood Derby, and I know, deep down, that is stuff Jude would love.

But, I also know that Boy Scouts of America has an explicit anti-gay policy. And while he may not understand all that in the grand scheme of equality and civil rights and humanity, would he understand that it meant that his friend’s dad couldn’t be his leader? That one of his relative’s couldn’t participate? That some of our dearest family friends would be unwelcome?

Do I pause all that in lieu of a pizza party and bee-bee guns because it’s easier, neater, less of an OMG TANTRUM APOCALYPSE?

I know he obviously won’t go to meetings and get indoctrinated into an anti-gay mindset. He’d probably learn a craft and play a game and sell ridiculously overpriced stale popcorn that nobody ever wants to buy, leaving me to pick up the tab.

But, we’d also be one more family making it ok for an organization to stand for ideals we just don’t agree with.

For us, the answer was no.

I’ve had to teach my kids lessons in the most unexpected places, usually when I am completely unprepared, and almost always while I have food in my mouth, and it sucks most of the time. Explaining life is hard, especially when you have to use clean language and Dora the Explorer analogies.

 

Jenifer April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

New to your blog and this is one of the first posts I have read. I have found a new friend. GO YOU!

Laurie April 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I had to say no as well. They also don’t allow athiests. That’s 90percent of my family. I don’t think they have a policy on Agnostic yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. My son is 8 and after explaining that we aren’t going to be in an organization that doesn’t allow gay people he said, “that’s OK mom I’m not gay”. I then explained that it meant people like uncle James couldn’t join. He replied, “that’s OK mom he’s not a kid.” So I had to get more in depth. I then realized he had just learned all about Martin Luther King and racism at school and I compared it to that and he had an AH HA moment.

Babs April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Thank you for taking a stand. That’s all I’ve got.

rachel April 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

My mom quit Curves when she heard that they promote a pro-life agenda. At first, I thought she was just looking for a reason to quit working out, but now I get it.

If only eating healthy had a hatey agenda…

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

This was an interesting post, as are all the comments. We just joined Cub Scouts a few weeks ago.

I definitely understand people’s objections, and my husband and I support gay marriage, equality, etc. We both believe in God but refuse to attend any church any more because we believe organized religion is often corrupt, if not formulaic and just not in keeping with our spiritual beliefs and what we want to teach our child. We can teach him about God at home. We are definitely the outliers in our neighborhood, where most families attend church regularly.

I wish that BSA was open to homosexual leadership, but I don’t know that them not being open to that is a good enough reason to keep my child out of Scouts at this point. There are valuable lessons learned in scouting that I want my child to learn. On the application that my husband and I both had to complete for the background check (all Scouting parents must undergo a background check now), there were no questions about sexual orientation, nor do I recall any about religion. Scouting is open to ALL religions, not just Christianity. Maybe one day they’ll be open to gay leaders as well.

I also think that sometimes you can accomplish more inside an organization than outside. Time passes…society changes…I know this to be true. This particular decision was not black and white for us, we feel the benefits at this point outweigh any negatives. Our kids are far too focused these days on the material and the superficial. Scouting instills some valuable basic principles that serve kids well in life, so for now we are going to accentuate the positive.

But this is a great conversation.

Alana April 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Kathryn,

I tend to agree with your comment. We have been members of the BSA for five years, and I have served in leadership positions, both within the pack and within our district. My son recently moved up to Boy Scouts, and plans to continue through earning his Eagle rank. We have had nothing but a positive experience in Scouting. I don’t think I would be able to say the same of sports, if we chose to participate in that. Sports are huge here, and my son is one of the only boys I know who does not play baseball/soccer/football.

The issue of homosexuality has never come up, and while both our Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop have been chartered by churches, religion does not come into play in our meetings. We had no church members in our Cub Scout pack; it was simply a building for us to hold our meetings in. There are also a lot of packs/troops that are chartered by school PTOs, recreation centers, and YMCAs. My husband and I are non-practicing Catholics, and support gay marriage and equality.

My husband and I see Scouts as providing a valuable experience for our son, teaching him leadership, loyalty, to try new things, and to love the outdoors. We chose to join a pack and troop that are very family-oriented, and everyone in the family is welcome to participate in meetings, camping trips, and other outings. My daughter has been attending Cub Scout meetings since she was three years old, has been on many Cub Scout camping trips, has ridden in parades with the Scouts, and has been to Cub Scout day camp.

A decision that I struggle with is whether to put my daughter in Girl Scouts or not. I know she would love to participate, but in the experience of most of my local friends, the entire family is discouraged from attending camping trips and other functions; instead it is only the girl and her mother who can participate. If I can hold her off, I may just wait and let my daughter join Venturing, which is a division of the BSA for 14-21 year old girls and boys.

Amy April 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Honest question here, no snark intended.

Why should I allow my son to join the BSA when other programs offer the same advantages without discriminating?

Alana April 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm

We haven’t looked for/found another program that offers the same advantages to us as the BSA. Perhaps there is one out there, but Scouts is the program that has worked best for our family. In the area where we live, everything is either church- or sports-centered, and we prefer to not participate in either of those types of programs.

The Cub Scout pack that we initially joined consisted of families from my son’s neighborhood elementary school, who shared similar values as us, and have become my closest friends. Where we live, a large majority of the mothers do not work, there is a lot of wealth, and the community is very conservative. We have never felt like we fit in here (but the public schools and amenities rock), and these were the first people who we came across who we genuinely bonded with.

I am not denying the fact that the BSA organization does have some issues with discrimination, but I personally have not encountered anything but acceptance, kindness, and courtesy as I have met leaders from not only my local district, but also our area-wide council. Every leader who I have met is there because they enjoy working with youth, and want to give our boys the best experience that he or she can give them. Like Kathryn said above, I like the feeling that I am working from within the organization to promote a positive image and be open and accepting to everyone.

If you do not agree with me, that is fine; everyone’s situation is unique, and you have to be happy with the decisions that you make for your own personal family.

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

What other programs offer the same advantages as scouting? The Y program doesn’t seem to be as organized and in-depth as scouting, and the Y is a Christian organization so how do we know they allow gay leaders? I’ve never heard it mentioned. I don’t think you can get to Eagle Scout anywhere but in BSA, either, which is a big deal for a lot of boys and a true leadership development path for boys who stick with it. FYI, I believe once they exit BSA and get into Venturers/Explorers/Eagle Scouting, that there are no restrictions on leadership.

I participated in scouting when my oldest, who’s grown now, was a boy, and now again with my 6 year old. Even back then I never saw or experienced any discrimination against anyone, EXCEPT the married moms who didn’t like having us single moms in the pack. Children are not taught anything about homosexuality in scouts, or about heterosexuality for that matter. It’s about developing boys into good citizens of the world, and cameraderie, and learning life skills together.

So for us the positives far outweigh the negative, and as another commenter said, how do you know that your child or your family won’t be one who helps to bring about more inclusion?

kid your mom is a silly person April 18, 2012 at 9:17 am

You clearly are putting your son at a disadvantage in his ability to navigate the real world. I learned more about dealing with men, straight and gay, in the scouts than college. In the litigious America of today how can you blame an organization for concentrating on their ability to do the greatest good for the greatest amount. You are teaching your son that if the world is not fair he can’t participate. Good luck w/ that

Heather April 11, 2012 at 1:22 am

This is very similar to my scouting experience. My brother is five years older than me and my whole family was very active with his scouting. Family campouts comprise some of my earliest memories! And attending his scout meetings was the reason I ended up joining Girl Scouts. Which I loved! I do agree though that, in my experience, family was not as involved in Girl Scouts. I don’t know that it was discouraged in my area as much as it just wasn’t the norm. Oh, but what I wanted to mention is that I also attended a GSA sleep away camp my whole childhood (and ended up working there) and we had a special father/daughter camp and mother/daughter camp. The father/daughter camp was the biggest hit!

Crystal April 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I know it’s not a 100% solution to the problem, as the YMCA is having some issues because of Federal Funding and Gay Rights (but they ARE trying), but growing up my sister, brother and I all enjoyed our time in Indian Princesses and Indian Guides with our father. We had the campouts, pizza parties and the Guides had Soapbox Derbies, AND we had incredible bonding time with our dad. I (and my parents) much preferred this to my short time in Brownies because it wasn’t just a group where parents dropped their kid off and let one person be the leader. Each father/child couple was actively participating. I, and my father, made lifelong friends through the organization. Might want to look into this for your kids. :)

Denise2Teach April 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Princess Wildfire here :p

Chris April 18, 2012 at 12:26 am

I am a gay man, a former indian guide, and a former employee of the local YMCA where I grew up. I would say the Indian Guides were everything I wanted/needed as a young adventurous boy. I learned about the outdoors and the four core values: Respect, Honesty, Caring and Responsibility. Those values are at the very core of my being, and I thank the Y for providing such a great program. The one thing you have to know is how secular your local YMCA is. The Y I was a part of was very diverse and secular with a large Jewish and Muslim membership, but not all YMCA associations are the same. If the Y isn’t your thing, you can always check out if there is a Camp Fire USA group near you.

Adriane April 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm

First of all …. ” if I want to feel bad about myself, I’ll go into an Anthropology and try to fit into stuff” — EXACTLY.

Secondly, I feel your conflict but I think ultimately, I would make the same decision. Even though my husband was a scout forever. Look into alternatives. Other camps, perhaps. ;)

Sasha April 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Bravo….coming from the person who despite my company wanting 100% participation in donating to the United Way so they could get their little award for the 8th year in a row (they said even if you donate a$1), I refused as United Way in our town gives to the Boy Scouts. I was told they would donate the $1 in my name, I told them they better not or there would be hell to pay.

Kelly, I’m coming late to the party and I didn’t read a lot of the comments but I feel you (nor anyone) deserves the jerk comment for asking a question when the door was opened. I took it as a question coming from concern and interest, but hey that’s me. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. They just don’t always need to be stated “out loud”.

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Every United Way has the option for you to designate your donations to go to the organization of your choice. Just throwing that out there.

Ash April 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm

You’re awesome. Way to go.

tanya April 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm

First and foremost Brit, I would like to thank you for raising your children to believe that discrimination is wrong, although I am sure at his age this lesson is not something he completely understands. But everyone is right, one day he will, and as a man, he will appreciate the FAMILY VALUES that were instilled in him by is parents. And with those values that are being instilled in him, he will be a man that will hopefully be able to continue to make the changes that our society is desperately in need of. So kudos to you.

As for everyone that is jumping down Kellys throat, I realize her question might have been asked very bluntly, but we are all invested and concerned with what is going on in Brittanys life. I know she could have been a little more delicate in her asking, but I am sure that her concern was sincere, and there is no need to be so mean to her. :)

Ali April 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm

You’re an awesome mom and I would’ve made the same call. I know the day will come when my little boy wants to be a boy scout (because who doesn’t want to camp and set fires to things??!) and I’m going to have to give him the same answer (assuming, that is that BSA hasn’t changed their policies by then…).
I get that family values are instilled by parents, I do. But I also get that larger social/cultural movements and organizations grow incrementally – by each person and/or family that joins. If families stopped signing their boys up for BSA, no matter how “cool” it sounds, maybe they’d get the message that anti-homosexual policies are not the way to go. I just don’t think it’s ok to teach kids to “go along with the crowd” because “that’s what everyone else is doing” when that also means ignoring something as vital and important as extending basic human rights to a segment of the population. We’ve seen that play out before in history, and it never turns out nicely…what the BSA is doing is just a slightly more subversive, socially acceptable (but only because we are allowing it to be) version of that…with campfires and bb guns.
Way to stand strong B!

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

But we’re not going to stop signing our kids up for BSA, and this is why: I don’t politicize every part of my life. There is nothing about scouting that is about teaching your kids to “go along with the crowd”, or ignoring basic human rights. Maybe that’s what people don’t get. Scouting is about the kids, not the parents. There is no basic human right to being a scout leader, that comment is just over the top.

I hope that people who are so concerned about this issue feel as bad when they look at all their iToys, made by slaves in China who live in miserable dormitories and really ARE denied basic HUMAN rights. Or when you shop at WalMart, the largest employer in the U.S. that doesn’t pay many of it’s employees a living wage but continues to profit because of our consumerist society that can’t live without the latest cheap crap. You see where we can go with this? People are getting hypocritical, I think, in their crowing about how they are so supportive of gay rights because they don’t do scouting or eat Chick Fil A. You are not DOING anything, but maybe parents who actually are in scouting will be the ones who DO something one day. Because we’re there, and we do care. We just don’t agree that from the outside looking in and judging is the best way to get things done.

Brittany April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I love this conversation, and the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree, that it’s truly a decision we have to make for ourselves and our kids and be at peace with it.

To explain a little bit more, because I’ve seen this comment come up a few time, the idea of change from within, and I truly, TRULY, hope that is something that you can inspire and accomplish, but my take on that is that by participating, I’m enabling the whole.

In that, while on a local level, I may have an amazing troop, and an amazing leader, the fact is, I’m contributing by strength in number and strength in finances to BSA as a whole, where some of the very real problems exist. I will never be able to contribute as much, financially, as the main donors, which happen to be religious, so for me, the answer was to not be a part of the numbers they can get from me, namely, my son’s participation and dues, no matter how small they may be.

I have absolutely no argument that the basis of what Boy Scouts teach and allow for the boys to do is fantastic, and I am saddened my boys won’t be getting that from them, but very much inspired by this discussion to see not only change, but options!

Thank you so much for your comments!

Cort April 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I completely agree with this argument! Really, how many people are out there saying “Well, it’s just $12…”. The one thing I’ve learned about parenting is that the easy decision now, makes for a harder battle ahead. By standing your moral ground now – despite the eminent threat of tantrum – you have positioned yourself to teach your children a valuable lesson of standing up for what you believe and whom you love. Good for you! The conversation (or what I’ve seen of it) seems very civil – which makes me respect your readers even more! :) Glad to be one of them!!

Alicia April 13, 2012 at 3:34 am

There are those of us who do stay away from Chick Fil A and other anti-gay companies, who try our best to stay away from places like Wal-Mart, and who try our best to not buy things made in sweat shops. We’re not perfect about it, but we do exist, and we believe that taking a stand against the BSA because of their exclusion of gays and non-believers teaches our sons to not be afraid to stand up for what is right. Of course it’s not a human right to be a scout leader, but why not allow a gay man, who is only interested in other gay men, be one? Why not let non-believers join in and simply not say the part about god? The GSA has no problems with either of those situations, and they are flourishing. What’s so different about the BSA?

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

I don’t have any issue with parents who choose not to participate in scouting because of their beliefs or non-beliefs, or because they disagree with their policies. I guess that I see it, though, as another form of slacktivism (not doing something = action), which I totally have an issue with. And I have an issue with people thinking or believing that parents who do participate in scouting are teaching our kids to discriminate against others. We are not.

When I mention issues that to me are so much more egregious and harmful in the world than gays not being able to lead in BSA, such as real human suffering caused by our greed for cheap garbage and people reply “We TRY”, well that is just discouraging. Why don’t you take those things as seriously as you do gay leadership in the BSA? Those issues…human slavery, wage erosion for U.S. workers….are so much more serious than whether gays can lead in the BSA, yet I see this rallying cry of “We are not going to stand for this!” about the one, and the “Well we try but you know we have to have iPhones and shop at Walmart but WE TRY to do the right thing” about the other. It seems very, very hypocritical to me. Like…choosing the cool thing to take a stand about. I’m not surprised by it, but it makes me think that people have their priorities all screwed up in this world.

fly on the wall April 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Playing devil’s advocate… what if… what if your son, who is being raised in a household full of love and tolerance and confidence, what if he’s meant to grow into that person who, thanks to the base lessons he learned in your home, what if he’s meant to be the person who changes that policy in Boy Scouts, forever?

It’s a tough one for, sure. But hell, I don’t believe half the crap my MIL spews and we still visit her regularly. ;)

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

I love this comment. I wonder why it hasn’t been responded to by anyone else.

Angel April 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Another thought is Campfire. Same fun activities for boys but they do not exclude anyone!

Angie April 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I applaud you for standing up for your family’s beliefs. While your son might be disappointed right now it is a great chance to teach him about those beliefs, why they are important to you, and how important it is to stand by them. This is an important step to leading him to be a strong adult who won’t compromise his own beliefs. You are awesome!

Hillary April 11, 2012 at 12:29 am

My almost six-year old daughter is in Daisy Scouts (the youngest level of GSA), and when my 9 year old son saw how much fun she was having, asked about Boy Scouts. We gave him the same answer that you did, and for the same reasons. Yes, it was hard. But the alternative? I would not have been able to sleep at night.

Heather April 11, 2012 at 1:30 am

Admirable decision, Brittany. I can echo some of the other comments on here and say that my brother was a Boy Scout and our family was very involved in his scouting and until recent years I had no idea about their exclusionary policies. Tough decision for you and Andy to make for sure. Thank you for posting this.

Kathryn April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

these comments are over the top! no kids for me and my husband but i don’t think BSA really teaches hatred or equality. I don’t understand all the hating on Biblical standards.

kathleen April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Bravo to you, send your kids to summer camp, they go away for two weeks and talk about it for a year, and there are some run by amazing organizations .

Syd8me April 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I am sad for Jude, but I have never been more proud to read your words. Thank you.

tracie April 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm

omg! totally having this conversation about boy scouts with my husband yesterday. there must be an alternative. oh, and i think you are just fantastic.!

Amanda April 12, 2012 at 8:08 am

We made the exact same decision for the exact same reasons and one other, they don’t allow atheists to join. I have never regretted not supporting that organization and my son never mentioned it again. His life didn’t lack for lack of dirt and goofy uniforms but we got to stand our ground against an attitude that we don’t believe in and that feels good and right and just.

Maricris @ SittingAround April 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I know it’s hard to say “no” to our kids. I understand your point regarding the Boy Scout policy. Try to draw his attention to other things. Maybe you can convince him to join other similar groups.

Alicia April 13, 2012 at 3:23 am

My husband and I recently had a huge discussion about this very thing because he was in Boy Scouts for years and loved it, and he would love to have our 5 year old son have the same experience. It was very hard for me to say that I would compromise if we found a good troop because of the anti-gay stance (along with the dislike of non-believers since we are non-believers), but I really wanted my husband to be able to share something so important to him. In the end my husband decided he couldn’t let our son join because of the same reasons I had because we want our son to grow up accepting all people and judging them based on how they act towards him, and not who they’re attracted to. It’s sad that something that can be so fun and positive for boys is run by people with so much hate.

Alicia April 13, 2012 at 3:25 am

Forgot to add that we’re going to be looking into Campfire USA since they are all inclusive. Maybe there’s a council near you!

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

Don’t attribute hate when you are simply making an assumption. All exclusion is not based on hate. It may be misguided, it may be wrong, but it’s not always based on hate and I’m sure that your husband would not say that what he encountered in BSA was hate.

Alicia April 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Excluding people based on something that has nothing to do with anything is hateful whether you like it or not. It’s bigotry, plain and simple, and bigotry is based on hate. And I don’t how you missed it, but I said that hate belongs to the people running BSA, not necessarily each individual involved. There’s a difference, and I’m aware of that.

As for your other comment above about how “trying” is so discouraging, sorry that we’re imperfect humans who try our best but aren’t always spot on with things. At we are *trying*. Are you so perfect in everything you do? Yes, I have an iPhone 3GS, something that was bought before the news from China came out. Am I suppose to ditch it completely now? Where am I suppose to find the money it takes to get a new phone? Are you going to give it to me? Yes, I still go to Wal-Mart in extreme cases such as when all I have is $10 to get my son new shoes, and they are the only ones who have shoes at that price. How do I find the money to get more expensive shoes elsewhere? And I will say that if my family was literally starving and all that we could find was a Chick Fil A, then we would eat there. But I try to avoid companies and situations that go against what I think is right because that’s all I can do. Does that make me hypocritical? No. What would make me hypocritical would be for my son to be in BSA when I am a very vocal supporter of gay rights. What would be hypocritical would be for my son to be in BSA while we keep quiet about being non-believers so we don’t “rock the boat”. Sure, my one son not being in BSA won’t cause the organization to change, but I can sleep at night knowing that I am being honest with my son when I tell him it is NEVER okay to exclude someone based on what they do in their private life or how they look. At least I’m not having a “do as I say, not as I do” situation.

And yes, there are worse things in the world than gays being denied the BSA. There’s always something worse than something in the world. And I try to fight against those issues too when I am able to donate time or money to them while also teaching my son they’re wrong. But again, I’m not perfect and I’m a finite being with finite resources, so I do the best I can. At least I can say that.

Even if you yourself aren’t telling your son to discriminate, you are telling him that ignoring what the overall organization stands for is okay even when it has hurt others. It’s really no different to the consumers that have their blinders on when they purchase things like blood diamonds, because that particular jeweler didn’t cause the harm, just the overall company caused it, so let’s conveniently ignore that fact. That’s the exact same hypocrisy you’re accusing me of.

Cheri April 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I am having this issue right now because my son would LOVE to join the BSA. However, we are atheists and do not believe it’s okay to discriminate against anyone. He is developmentally disabled and he doesn’t understand WHY we won’t allow him to join, but I can’t, in good faith, allow him to go, knowing that he would be easily manipulated. BSA is run by the Mormon church and I believe something like 70% of registered scouts/troops are out of the Mormon church. I can’t see that the troops that ARE accepting would have any way to change those discriminatory practices.

I also understand that most local troops are very open and accepting, but paying money to be in a private group that openly discriminates against people is not something I can do or would choose to do.

Instead, we are going to do Junior Rangers, Campfire USA, and keep looking for more groups out there that are accepting to everyone, without restrictions.

Scout Dad April 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I’ve posted once before.

I’m an active parent volunteer in a great scout troop.

There are two sides to every issue.

Everyone should of course do what they think is best, but there are some valid choices besides boycotting scouts because of the BSA. I don’t agree with everything the US government does, but I haven’t moved to another country. Many people do not agree with every decision that their church or school makes, but they don’t necessarily leave.

We do not have religious or sexual discussions in our troop. Why would we? It is not appropriate for anyone regardless of religious or sexual persuasion to discuss it in public in scouts. We don’t have political discussions, either. That’s just not what it’s about. If someone were to insist, regardless of straight/gay/bi/poly, believer/non-believer, Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Buddist, then there would be a problem. There is a religious award that a scout can work with at their place of worship. We say the Pledge of Allegiance. There’s no sex or religion check at the door.

I am absolutely sure that we’ve had atheist and gay parents of scouts who have thrived in the program and become Eagles, and learned a lot of great things along the way.

The BSA will only become more extreme if all people with a different view leave.

Some misconceptions. In my troop, there are many safeguards in place, including sexual predators. We do not allow even the appearance of impropriety. In my troop, there are no Mormons. Our sponsoring organization, a church, doesn’t even interact with us much at all. They have been sponsoring us for 70 years. In my troop, we have siblings of any age accompany us when accompanied by a parent. Many girls are into our activities as much as the boys.

Some facts. This link will show you the sponsoring organizations of troops.

My opinion. The LDS has too great an influence on the BSA. It has distorted the original vision *at the national level*. However, troops at the individual level are as different as people. One troop is not like another.

Please. Don’t turn your backs on scouting because of the national policies. Look at the Scout Law, the Scout Oath, the Scout Motto, and the Scout Slogan. Look at what the program offers. Find a troop that fits your personality. Show the world that scouts aren’t the stereotype. Don’t turn your backs on all of us because of the few.

I am probably going to stop watching this thread because it hurts me too much. I love scouting and I am doing all I can to help it grow. None of us are perfect, and neither our our institutions. We need good people. We need you.

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thanks for saying so well what I couldn’t put into words, Scout Dad. I agree that the thread is rather painful to read. Your post is thoughtful, heartfelt, and what you’ve said is true for our troop as well.

Scout Dad April 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I meant:

“Some facts. This link will show you the sponsoring organizations of troops.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America#Chartered_organizations_and_units

Keith April 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

Good post. Also, check out http://www.scoutingforall.org/

Denise2Teach April 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

You have to teach your children to stand up for what they believe in too. I still struggle to buy heads of lettuce in the grocery store because I can remember in the 70s the farm workers were trying to have their conditions improved and my mom stopped buying lettuce to support them. She taught me a huge lesson then and I am a damn good advocate for kids in the court system and kids with disabilities because she taught me to stand for what I believe to be right.

My senior year of high school 1986 I sat in a small town court house in a room full of 16-21 year old men (including my boyfriend) who had been raped by their BSA leader who was also a married local church deacon. He got caught when a 7 year old came home from camping with bloody underwear and his parents took him to the hospital thinking he was sick. This man raped children and teens for years. The BSA’s anti-gay doctrine is ridiculous because the majority of abusers are not gay. My boys were also not allowed to be scouts and they were told when old enough all the reasons why. They did other more openly inclusive groups. Ones that encouraged parents to always be involved. They are 21 and 16, both very willing to stand up for what they believe in. I think it might be the best thing I ever taught them.

Eggton April 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

HORRAY. My parents made decisions like this, and you know what? I understood later. And I was so PROUD of them for it later. And there’s, like, a 70% chance this is what Jude will write his college essays about. He’s way less likely to write them about a mini-catapult.

Scout Dad April 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hi,

I so hope you will rethink your decision.

I am an active scout leader in a great troop.

I know scouts loses many great kids because of the no atheists, no gays policy.

Here is how we interpret that in our troop.

Our religion test is we say the pledge every meeting. If you can say the pledge without your religious convictions being offended, then it’s all good. In fact, we don’t actually listen too close. If you chose to not say the God part, no one would care. We occasionally have a prayer. We have members who are of various or no obvious faiths. We occasionally discuss religion amongst the adults, but never with the kids, beyond the occasional isn’t nature beautiful.

Our gay test is . . . nothing. Adults should not be discussing sexuality issues with scouts. We had one eagle scout a few years ago who lived with his mom and his mom had a female roommate. We did not inquire as to the nature of the relationship. We have many man and women leaders who state they are married to people of the opposite sex. We also do not inquire into their sex lives. It isn’t DADT. It’s that it has no place in scouting.

I don’t believe BSA will change unless it changes from the inside. And if people of conscience don’t join and help it change, it won’t.

Alex@LateEnough April 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm

We don’t plan on participating in Boy Scouts just like we wouldn’t participate in a group which excluded blacks or hispanics. It’s morally, spiritually and religiously wrong.
Plus, the thought of my son wearing a boy scout uniform and walking past a bullied gay teen breaks my heart because the only thing that gay teen knows is we support a group that thinks he’s wrong for being who he is.

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I think it’s totally invalid to attribute emotions to gay teenagers you have never even met. It injects an unreasonable emotional portrayal into the conversation that really has no bearing because you simply cannot read anyone’s mind.

Matt5343 April 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

From your many comments I gather your position is basically, it doesn’t affect me directly so it should not be an issue.

I suggest you read the famous quote of Martin Niemöller (google it).

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Then I guess you haven’t really read my many comments, Matt.

Crystal April 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I don’t have kids so I’m pretty much talking out of my ass but I feel that if you and Andy raise your kids right, they will never be swayed by discrimination of any group, BSA, Girl Scouts or the Three Six Mafia. I completely understand your feeling of not wanting to financially support BSA because of their beliefs, but I feel so bad for your baby. I can’t imagine how disappointed he must be because he doesn’t understand y’all’s reasoning. I feel like its unfair to him to have to be “punished” because humanity sucks. (I only say punished because a thesaurus is totally not even helping me convey the idea I want to). Can you dress him up like a girl and send him to Girl Scouts? How will he feel when Gigi grows up and gets to be a Girl Scout? Can you send him to me so I can help him shoot a bb-gun and build a fire? I can’t imagine how hard it is to make this decision.

Kathryn (@kat1124) April 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Crystal, I believe you’re correct. My older son who was a scout for years doesn’t discriminate, has friends of all ethnicities, races, religions, including gay ones, and that is because that’s how I raised him.

Jon Langbert April 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

You made the right choice! At first I rationalized that it was OK for my son because our Cubmaster said it wasn’t an issue. But then a couple ultra-religious haters complained to the National office in Irving, Texas and I was very publicly fired from my volunteer position as Popcorn Kernal (responsible for the fundraiser). I had never spoken of sexual orientation or anything like that. They just hate gays and atheists. Ultimately, my son got to see me stand up to bigotry, but the scouts are still preaching hate in our schools’ halls. Better to find other things to do and avoid the hassle.

Christie April 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

What a great post! You really hit on a tough issue. I have been dreading this request for a year or so now. My son is 5 and some of the neighbor kids are in Boy Scouts and, honestly, I pray that he never wants to join. I already struggle with difficult issues around Christmas and Easter given that I am a non-Christian Unitarian Universalist, but most of our family and friends are Christians. Thank you for opening up the discussion and for making it out to say “no” in order to preserve your own principles.

Keith April 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

http://www.scoutingforall.org/
Those who are trying to change the national policy do not want you to deny the experience to your son.
Find a pack/troop affiliated with a unitarian church and I bet that they won’t discriminate.

Susan April 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Can you tell us how you explained the “no” to your son and how he reacted? I’m interested in that. You made a difficult decision but, as you said, the right one for your family. That’s what’s important, not what other people think. Your son will grow up knowing you are not a hypocrite.

Judy April 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Way to go! Informed and intentional parenting is very difficult. Thanks for sharing your eperience.

Judy

Bruce Menin April 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

A difficult choice. Because of the troop, and the way it is run, we (my son and I) have joined. I am appalled and angry at the official policy of the Boy Scouts. However, our local troop reaches out to special needs kids, who are welcomed. Merit badges are pursued as a community of learning, in which all of the scouts work on the badges, the older mentoring the younger. Our community service projects are real, often powerful experiences for the kids. And we ask no questions. Are there gay scouts in our troop? Maybe… I don’t know, because it isn’t a question we ask, nor is it a one we would want to ask. Do they meet the age requirements? Will they work as a community, together? The answer is yes. Nothing else matters for us. We have a healthy skepticism of the larger, more bureaucratic aspects of scouting. We tune them out, and teach the kids the importance of tolerance, the value of community, the benefits of diversity. We teach our kids about bullying, and empower them to step up and make a difference when they see it happen. In the end, because of the way our troop has constructed itself, our kids become leaders in their schools. Many of them are members of the local Gay/Straight students alliance- they are passionate about contributing to their own communities; they would be ashamed of us if we turned down a kid for any reason.

I have also met other troops that are poorly run by bigots and morons. Ours isn’t; it isn’t because of the commitment of responsible, compassionate adults, and our emphasis on those aspects that bind us together as human beings. If corporate wants t0 continue to fight a losing battle about sexual orientation, that won’t affect our open and accepting troop.

In the end, it is what you make of it. As a kid, I had a terrible experience with the scouts- I was not allowed to join by troop leaders, who felt that my having a father who had left us to fend for ourselves disqualified me- back then, it was called a broken home, and the two scout troops I tried to join walked away from the core values of scouting to prevent me from joining. It was a long, hard and difficult journey for me when my kid wanted to join. In the end, we did, we have made a difference in what it means to be a boy scout for 30 local kids… and i daresay every one of them would step up and intervene if a kid was being taunted for their sexual orientation, or bullied because they have special needs. That makes the tradeoff with my higher ideals worth it for me. That’s my answer.

Lynn April 18, 2012 at 12:33 am

While I commend some of the life skills, values and friendship building lessons, we don’t and won’t tolerate prejudices in our home. Unfortunately, that also excludes the Girl Scouts (we have all girls), who have an anti-transgender policy. We consider this as bad as anti-homosexual practices.

We have looked into Planet Scouts, formerly Earth Scouts, for their anti-prejudice stance, as well as their policies of being all inclusive for gender, race and sexual preference.

Kathleen O'Neal April 18, 2012 at 12:57 am

I am a very out bisexual who has been involved with the LGBT community for a while now. I have campaigned against anti-LGBT ballot initiatives, spoken out at county commission meetings for LGBT equality, and have given talks on my university campus about bisexual issues. Most of my close friends are LGBT people. I imagine you think I am going to follow this up by congratulating you on what a liberal, progressive parent you are, but I am not. The gall of a parent to impose his or her politics on a child (in the process robbing that child of autonomy and dignity) strikes me as tyrannical in the extreme. Perhaps you could have explained to your son why you don’t support the Boy Scouts but why others do and armed with all of the information, allowed him to make his own choices. Dictating to those smaller and weaker than you over whom you have coercive legal and economic power doesn’t make you liberal or progressive, no matter how you choose to frame it. You are in every way the moral equivalent of the parents who forbid their LGBT children from exploring their identity in same-sex relationships, seeking out an LGBT community, or making a gender transition because their children aren’t acting in accordance with their religious or political beliefs. Ageism is every bit the evil of heterosexism. Next time you choose to show your children what a tyrant you are, don’t do it in my name.

LK April 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Amazing that you think this is a simple matter of “politics” and not a fundamental human rights issue.

M. Gotsch Jr. April 18, 2012 at 2:37 am

While I am not yet a parent, I don’t see the value in denying children the access to things that interest them as long as it’s in their best interest. The Boy Scouts policy is certainly not a desirable one, and it’s sometimes necessary to stand on your principals. That said, the boy is six. Are you really concerned with his opinions on gay equality at SIX? You’re taking away from time your son could be bonding with his friends and learning all sorts of useful skills to stand on YOUR own principles. Your son will care about those issues because you sound like a caring parent, but not at six. Rather than stand on principles your kid couldn’t care less about (again, six), and who are likely barely even able to read and write, maybe you should allow them some structured play time and social engagement that involves them simply having a good time. And if you can’t bear the thought, then go take a knot tying class, buy a tent, and go do the things the kid wants to do anyway.

Lisa April 18, 2012 at 6:16 am

all i can say is you’re awesome (and your family is, too). i just re-read this on the huffington post..amazing.

Alice April 18, 2012 at 6:20 am

I love it! Hilarious and so true. I can totally relate to this.

pep April 18, 2012 at 7:54 am

The boyscouts are a decentralized organised organisation.
Ech group can have it’s own rules and most do not discriminate. As for the policy of the group.
Here in holland it isn’t an issue at all.
All persons can join.

Ken April 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

Campfire USA is an inclusive, coeducational scouting-type organization. It is a young and growing organization and there are not chapters in every town but check out their website and read their mission statement. I think you’ll see it fills the void many here would like to see filled.

I myself am not affiliiated with the organization, but as a gay man and uncle of 3 terrific kids, I’m always looking for groups and organizations that might appeal to the kids and also reinforce OUR family values. The kids havent joined yet. Too busy with other activities but when I read this post Campfire USA was the first thing that came to mind.

CampfireUSA.org

michael April 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

I am a cubscout leader. I also have some very close friends and family memebers who are of the “ousted” sexual persuasion and share your feelings about the anti-gay policies. However, I was a boyscout for many years when I was a kid and the troop provided me with valueable life-lessons and a father figure to look up to after my dad abandoned us when I was still very young. I became a leader to give back or maybe pay forward the lessons and values that I probably wouldn’t have even learned from my dad if he were around. Or maybe I was just trying to be there in case there were a scout who was dealing with the same thing I was when I was a Tiger, or a Bobcat, or a Wolf and so on. Although these policies are in place, the scouts are taught to think freely, stand on their own, make their own decisions, and voice their own oppinions all while working as a team. The anti-gay sentiments are not pushed upon, mentioned, or even inferred to the scouts. They are simply there to protect our boys (and yes, I know its wrong to blanket everyone by the possibility of the one scum-bag that wants to do wrong to these children). But the moto is be prepared. BSA is only protecting the scouts from harm and themselves from legal action. It sucks but there are no professionals leading the children – only volunteers. Those volunteers are trained to look for physical and emotional signs of abused boys and the only effective way for them to avoid it from happening inside the organization is deny entry of those who are openly attracted to the gender of the scouts (same reason dad’s are not allowed to be girlscout leaders). Wait… that doesn’t even make sense due to the use of “Den mothers”. I just talked myself in a circle. THE POINT IS… The things a boy learns in cub/boyscouts are extremely valuable. If you do not agree with the policies BSA has in place and don’t want your boy to participate because of them – that’s okay. But please do not deny your boy the lessons that he would learn. Pick up the handbook or go online and print out the activities. It will allow for positive father/son time, bring them closer, and teach them both some valuable lessons that they probably wouldn’t learn otherwise.

Keith April 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

http://www.scoutingforall.org/

See above, even the organization pushing for gay rights in BSA tells you not to deny your sons of the experience. Packs/Troops typically reflect the values of their community and/or charter organization. Our Charter organization, a church, is open to all people and our pack reflects that. I will admit that our decision would have been difficult if we lived in an community where discrimination was accepted and tolerated within our pack but that is not the case.

The Rev. James J. olson April 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I was involved in Scouting, all the way through Eagle. I can’t say enough about the experience. Two thoughts:

1. The Troop and Councils are often much more affirming and lgbt friendly than National. Check out the Troop and Council…you might find that the one in your area repudiates the National position on this, which they are free to do.

2. Check out Scouting for All; same training and activities, same ranks and achievements, none of the national baggage. http://www.scoutingforall.org/

Good luck. I loved Scouting, and hope you find a way for your son to experience it as well.

Bill April 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

How about this…be mature. The fact is all groups, people and organizations have different views. The MATURE view is to respect each others point of view, regardless of our opinions and participate in society. Making a stand because the organization does not fit with ONE of your positions, is just senseless grand standing and it denies your kid all the benefits of the BSA. What if they were against raising the road tax…would that stop you?

Dianne April 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

So I looked through my kids Boy Scout book. I can’t seem to find the “we hate gays” page. Does anyone know where it is? Is it around the be a good steward of the environment page? Or the lets collect food for the needy page? Maybe its near the be a good citizen and vote for what you believe in page, I just can’t find it. I ‘ve never heard anyone at a meeting talk about it or seen anything about it in the troop newsletter. They probably do it while they are hiking up the mountains and canoeing down the river. That’s it, I remember my kid saying that it was discussed as the float plane brought them into the high adventure canoe base… oh wait.. they didn’t. In fact it wasn’t until he was in high school that he even acknowledged that he had heard of the policy and he didn’t care as he had friends who were gay and were in the troop. Each troop is based on the volunteers that make the troop run. Some are more liberal than others. If I believed everything I read about every organization out there and didn’t check, it would be a sad place. Did you know that the Occupy people… oh wait, they didn’t either.. Make this your kids choice, if you are giving him good values, he’ll do fine. You will eventually have to let him make his own choices, start with small ones

Elle April 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Have you seen this? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/boy-scout-den-mother-lesbian-_n_1434307.html

Good for you for sticking to what you believe in.

Heather April 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

Thanks for posting that link. It certainly helps put some things into perspective for those of us who never saw or experienced any discrimination during our involvement.

Steven Q. Stanley April 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

As long as people like Brittany Gibbons practice this sort of intolerance groups like the Boy Scouts will never evolve to be anything other than what they are now. Hopefully her son doesn’t emulate the intolerance that both his mother and the Boy Scouts subscribe to.

Terry Grossman April 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

First off, thank you for being supportive of your friends and family who are gay.

I was a cub scout, a boy scout, and an explorer scout. I can’t even remember what age my “scouting” began, but it lasted up until I headed off to college. To this day, many of the lessons I learned are relevant, and I enjoy bantering about “Always being prepared” with my other friends who are former scouts. Former scouts who, like me, are gay.

I consider the BSA position to be the last gasp of an outdated world view. It will change, albeit too slowly for some of us. Whether or not it will change faster because parents like yourself object to the policy, or because they choose to become involved with the organization and foment change from within is a question that is impossible to answer.

But thank you for taking a stand.

Terry

Laura April 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Great post. I have one suggestion: Campfire boys. They do not discriminate against GLBTQ youth.

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