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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