I'm Pro-Boy Scouts (And Pro-Gay)

Filed under: Opinions, Tween Culture

If I'd thought about it harder, maybe I wouldn't have said, "Sure!" when my son asked me if he could tag along with his friend to a Boy Scout meeting three years ago. But, "Sure!" said I, and he ran home with the sign-up sheet.

What was so exciting? Apparently, the boys had all zoomed around the room playing tag -- on trikes. (The troop meets at night in a church's day care center.) Then the leader called for order and the boys snapped to attention. They saluted the flag, said the pledge and went to work on a badge (for architecture). As soon as the meeting was over they played more kamikaze trike tag -- after politely putting the chairs away. It was everything I'd wanted for my son: Free play AND discipline.

Just a few weeks later and my son was on his first campout, sleeping in a tent (and in his same clothes) for three days. This time he came home thrilled by another new thing: The outdoors.

He was also psyched about staying up late in a tent with other boys and telling jokes and stories. And cooking over an open fire. And learning how to make knots. And best of all, of course, using a pocket knife. Boy Scouts was like finding a secret passageway back to the olden days of boyhood, before X and Box ever met.

But there's another old-fashioned part of Boy Scouts that leaves my heart colder than a wet sock at dawn: It's the home office's official anti-gay, anti-atheist (and even anti-agnostic!) stance. While certain troops -- including my son's -- wiggle around them, these bylaws state that gays and atheists can't be troop leaders. And scouts who are open about being gay can't advance to become "youth leaders," either.

This seems so wrong, not just because it assumes there is something bad about homosexuality and atheism, but also because in an era when we are realizing how terrible it is to ostracize (or bully) young men about their sexual orientation, here are the Boy Scouts -- who are supposed to be brave -- kicking those kids to the curb. Real bravery is standing up for an outcast. Real reverence is a reverence for all people, no matter how they are wired.

As for adult troop leaders, "gay" does not mean a man who preys on young boys, any more than "straight" means a man who preys on young girls. And atheists? I just don't see the problem.

At our home, we believe in Boy Scouts. We believe in young men working hard and having fun and helping little old ladies across the street. We don't believe that bigotry is a value the Scouts endorse. Why do its bylaws?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.