So the Boy Scouts of America Suck…Now What?

Image (CC) courtesy Flickr user Jack Zalium

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) haven’t made their feelings about gay members a secret at any point in the last few years.  It does seem they’ve recently come out (pun intended) and decided to keep their policy unchanged.  Left and right on social media channels we’re seeing Eagle Scouts, former Boy/Eagle Scouts return their awards/honors with letters hoping to shame the organization into doing the right thing.

I applaud all these actions and the courage, pride and conviction these men (straight or gay) have in their own beliefs. Ironically it may be the BSA (at least in part) that gave these men the self-confidence to look an organization that they love(d) in the eye and basically say, “F— You, You’re wrong ‘so just sit there in your wrongness and be wrong.'”

But now what?My eldest has been a scout for two years, his younger brother the “mascot” of the group and I suspect he’ll also join up this next year.  They’ve just moved to a new state – so new school, new neighborhood, etc. i.e. no pre-existing friends. They also love the scouting activities – Pinewood Derby, camping trips, etc..  If they had to pick one extra-curricular activity to do this would probably be it.

Ideally I’d like to pull them both out from the scouts and start a campaign to force the BSA’s membership numbers to drop so low they have to do the right thing or go the way of the do-do bird. In this case I’d be ok with forced morality. But at what expense – the happiness of my kids?

To add to the complexity – I would of course have to convince my ex that it’s the right thing to do even though I know and appreciate full well that she’d have to bear the greatest burden in not enrolling them (I do happen to know that on this topic she’s as liberal as I am unless things have changed).

Of course we (all of us, but we – those in this in particular) need to lead by example since we’re the only ones who can. Even if it means telling our son that for a reason he won’t understand for a few years he can’t go be a scout because the BSA believes something that his mother and I disagree with to a great degree.  Essentially that the entire BSA is being a bully and being ‘mean’ to a group of people just because of who they are and throwing their weight around.

I’d like nothing better than to one day, in half a dozen years or so, be able to look my son in the eye (when things like sex, self-awareness, pride, esteem, peer pressure really start to matter) and say (hopefully full of pride) – “Yes, it was tough – you wanted to go be a part of that group and we didn’t let you. The easy way is rarely the right way, son – we didn’t let ‘those people’ (the closed minded ones) get their grubby paws on you or our implicit support. When it matters you shouldn’t take the easy way out either.”

But he’s seven.  Do you remember seven?  It’s great – he shouldn’t have a care in the world except who’s going to be “It” while playing tag at recess.  But he’s also (at some level) still coming to terms with his parents’ divorce, has just moved, crosses two state lines twice every two weeks for our visits and can’t wait to build his Pinewood Derby car this year. Or get to shoot a bow and arrow again at the spring camping trip. Or any one of a number of other things he’s done for the previous two years in the scouts.

We’re effectively punishing him for something he didn’t do, doesn’t understand and won’t for a number of years so I can take the moral high ground and say I did the right thing and hope that lesson carries through?

I’m sure there must be other, similar, local organizations. But they certainly don’t have the national reach, track record, etc. that the BSA does.

So, do tell, loyal reader (the handful of you) – what’re your thoughts? Do you choose your children’s happiness or your own morality?

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5 Responses to So the Boy Scouts of America Suck…Now What?

  1. I can appreciate your conundrum.  Here is how I handled things as a Mother.  When I disagreed I did not punish my son by saying he could not participate, we discussed it.  Now granted there are many parents who say, “My child is too young for a conversation like this.”
    I never adhered that thinking.  We discussed sex when he asked , not by an age, we discussed everything by when he showed interests or asked.  My role as a mother was to guide him so he could learn what it meant to make a well thought out decision.  Now granted I knew my son well enough that even as a toddler, he was the kid you had a discussion with.  Even at two he wanted explanations.  Not every child is like that I get it.  I choose instead to tell him here is how I am handling this and why.  What it generated was a very thoughtful son who also respects other’s points of view, then makes up his own mind.
    Situations like this are a learning opportunity.  You can embrace that or you can be afraid of them.  What ever choice you make your son will learn from.  Much love.

    • PRCog says:

       @prosperitygal Thanks so much Michele, I know he’s not prepared for that conversation (which is neither a good nor bad thing) so I certainly don’t want to bring it up unnaturally.  This’ll definitely be a convo I’ll be having with my ex.  Thanks for taking the time to read :)

  2. davevandewalle says:

    I have a seven-year-old son. My wife and I have agreed to keep him out of Boy Scouts from here on.
    The plan is to find other activities, and explain to him that the discrimination that BSA is guilty of would be just like if our church told so-and-so they couldn’t come because they have two moms.
    Done and done.

    • PRCog says:

       @davevandewalle Well done Dave – it’ll be interesting to see how my own conversations on this topic go.

  3. mdbarber says:

    I understand your conundrum and believe you have gotten some great advice already. My two boys (teens) are both Eagle Scouts. They learned amazing life skills from the program, great leadership and wonderful friends. Their Dad was Scoutmaster. We have talked with them several times about this issue and thy don’t support BSA’s stand. However, they understand the positives the organization has for many kids as it did for them. Each troop is different so I hope you can find one for your son that is more tolerant than others. As long as BSA serves as the youth area for Yngvil bs in the Mormon Church I don’t think numbers will be a problem.

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