After Boy Scouts Remove Lesbian Den Mother, a Board Member Resigns

Recently, Boy Scout den mother Jennifer Tyrrell was told she could not be her group’s leader anymore because she was a lesbian.

Jennifer Tyrrell

If only more people involved with the Boy Scouts of America would do what David Sims, a local BSA board member, did in response on Friday: Resign because of the BSA’s discriminatory ways.

Yesterday, after receiving the email from Paul Tucker, I first learned the story of Jennifer Tyrrell, the den leader for Pack 109′s Tiger Scouts in Bridgeport, Ohio, who was removed as leader solely due to her sexual orientation. I understand that this action was taken as a result of a standing policy of the Boy Scouts of America and that said action is legal. However, Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory. I understand that the Boys Scouts of America is free to run its organization as it sees fit, however, I can not formally be a part of it based upon this policy.

Best wishes to you, Ohio River Valley Council and the Boy Scouts of America in future endeavors. I hope that the powers that be will look into their hearts and find the wisdom and courage to re-examine the policies of the Boy Scouts of America.

The BSA is a private organization. They can act as they please. No atheists? No problem. Gay/Lesbians in the group? Get rid of them. Blacks and Jews? I’m sure they’ll be next on the chopping block.

But if they really want to help young men build character, they would be teaching them that all people — regardless of religious belief or sexual orientation — are worthy of respect and inclusion.

Reader David Atchley has a personal connection with this issue and he shared his story with me via email. If you have a few minutes to spare, check it out. He also proposes an alternative to the BSA.

I have a long history of being involved in Scouting. I “was” an Eagle Scout, my father was an Eagle Scout, and my grandfather an active Scouter and Scoutmaster. I started in Tiger Cubs the first year the BSA had the program (1981, I believe), and progressed all the way to Eagle among many other scouting endeavors and awards. I worked as a Unit Commissioner with inner city children in Memphis with the Council there; and I worked at various BSA summer camps as an instructor and assistant program director. Needless to say, I was very involved and appreciated the outdoor skills, friendships and opportunities that Scouting had afforded me.

When I became a father and my oldest son was 7, we joined a Cub Scout Pack and I became his Den Leader. I then became Cubmaster for the Pack the next year, as well as remaining Den Leader. At this time, I had been doing some serious reading regarding BSA policies regarding membership and looking at other Scouting associations world wide. I had also become somewhat disillusioned with the changes over the years in the focus of the BSA program, leaving a focus on outdoor and nature skills and turning into an “all things for everyone” type of program to appeal to the masses of youth it wanted to appeal to for increasing membership and money. The Supreme Court case on Dale vs. Boy Scouts of America was a pivotal case in favor of the BSA, basically giving them free run to discriminate because they now labeled themselves a private, religious organization. These policies, which to me seem inherently wrong, are counter-intuitive and antithetical to the actual ideals that “Scouting” should be teaching to our youth. I had thought for sometime that maybe this could be changed from the inside of the organization; by parents, leaders and those like myself that understood this wasn’t what Scouting was supposed to stand for or represent. I had gone to my local Pack Committee and brought up the idea that we create our own non-discrimination policy for the Pack. Not everyone was in support; but I told them, because of some of their concerns, that I would talk to the local St. Louis Area Council and find out if it would “really” be a problem.

Turns out, it was. When I called the local Council, I was transferred to their PR representative. Upon bringing up the idea of a local non-discrimination policy for our Pack, he told me that if we did adopt such a policy the Council would revoke our operating charter. I was in total disbelief. I told him that not only did I consider such a policy on membership as against the Scout Oath and Law, but that having a policy in place was causing harm to the youth in local Scouting units who had to deal with the aftermath of BSA policy removing a parent or a leader and kept many youth and potential adult leaders away from the Scouting program. I also mentioned that, if they were going to enforce this policy strictly, he should know that not only was I a local leader, former Commissioner, Eagle Scout, and more; but also an atheist. At that point in the conversation he told me I didn’t really meet the high standards that BSA was looking for and that I would be better off in another organization or youth group. Given the tone of the conversation, and everything I had read about regarding the BSA’s treatment of the policies before hand, I agreed and told him that effective immediately I and my son were resigning our membership in the BSA. I did work with my Pack for a short while afterwards to make sure they had another Cubmaster in place, and let them all know exactly why I was making this decision and leaving.

Given the Supreme Court’s rulings on numerous cases, the BSA’s stance as a private religious organization and the continuing attempts by many who are ousted to fight the decision and lose, it is my opinion that the BSA has no motivating reason to change it’s stance or it’s policies and has no intention of doing so in the future. After resigning my membership from the BSA, I had a few months to mull things over in my head. What was I to do with my son? I really enjoy Scouting as an activity and the opportunities if offered. It had meant so much to me, to be active in the program along with my father; and I wanted my son to have that too. But I can’t drop my integrity on the floor and continue to indirectly support an organization with such backwards, offensive policies towards homosexuals, atheists and agnostics and girls. Yes, I know there’s Girl Scouts; but it’s not the same type of program; and there are a ton of young girls and women who want to do those types of activities, like camping, backpacking, canoeing, orienteering, etc. Other scouting organizations around the world are co-ed, and there’s no reason the Boy Scouts of America couldn’t be either. These are the 3 ‘G’s that bother the BSA: the Godless, the Gays and Girls. After reflecting on all of this, I decided to do three things:

1) Officially write a letter to BSA national about their membership policies, and my hope that in the future they change them; but that I can no longer be a part.

2) Resign my Eagle badge and ask to be taken off the national registry of Eagle Scouts (also in the previous letter)

3) Find an alternative Scouting organization to get involved with along with my son or start a new one

I sent my letter to National Council at the BSA, rebuking them for their continued stance on their policies; and officially asked to be taken off the National Eagle Scout registry (accompanied by my Eagle badge and card). The work I did to attain Eagle and what it meant personally will stay with me forever; but the Eagle honor itself now feels cheapened and not worth claiming. Given my background, this was one of the hardest decisions I have every had to make. But the ultimate lesson I want to teach to my son (and other children now) is that integrity is worth everything. If you see something is wrong, don’t just stand idly by and do nothing. Don’t be apathetic about it and say, “well, it’s not affecting me directly, so it’s not really a problem.” Those policies are a problem. They are a problem because the local units by extension of being a part of the Boy Scouts of America, are supporting those types of policies by their continued membership and money and participation in things like pop-corn sales. I know a lot of Scouters who say that it isn’t really an issue at the “Troop” or “Pack” level, because they don’t really believe in those policies or won’t enforce them. Tell that to Jennifer Tyrrell or James Dale or Tim Curran or the many others that have been affected at the “Troop” or “Pack” level. Scouting is about teaching young people how to become better adults and citizens; and by trying to do that within an organization that holds to such out-dated, unjust and hateful policies is not teaching by example and comes off as hypocritical.

After sending the letter, I took the Council PR rep’s advice and started looking for another organization. I came across the semblance of one called the Baden-Powell Service Association, or BPSA. A lot of people I think are spending time trying to get the BSA to change their policies. They’ve been taking that approach for decades and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. Meanwhile, lots of kids and adults, are unable to participate in a Scouting program because there is no real alternative to the BSA in this country. To this end, I started a local BPSA group here in Missouri (Washington, MO), and as of a year ago, am now the acting Commissioner for the BPSA. We aren’t big, but we’re trying to reach out and grow and let people know that there is an alternative to the BSA that they CAN participate in that is not discriminatory in any way – and in fact, is headed by an atheist: me. The BPSA is also co-ed, so now everyone has a chance to participate in the game of Scouting and the outdoors. And that, is the BPSA’s mantra — “Scouting for Everyone.”

For those parents who don’t want their children to join BSA in protest of their policies, for those gay and lesbian members who have been removed as leaders or had awards taken away from them, and for those atheists and agnostics that have suffered the same fates — I want you all to at least take a look at the BPSA and our program. If you think it’s something you can get behind and support, then please do help us get this program off the ground. I am more than happy to talk to anyone about the program, our background and how to get started.

My hope is that people like myself can make this organization a solution to the problem of Scouting and BSA’s membership policies. For those fighting the BSA from the inside, I wish you the best; but from my perspective and decades of history, why don’t we take the reigns in our own hands and make a Scouting organization that holds to the ideals that Scouting is really about.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Reason_Being

    Congrats to David Sims.  I was involved in Scouting until around 2000 when they challenged their right to discriminate in court.  I walked away before the verdict was announced.  Good for David.  More people need to take stands like his when confronted with things that violate their sense of morality.

  • Lance Finney

    That’s a very interesting letter from David Atchley. I’m also in the St. Louis area, and I’ve recently started a discussion at the Ethical Society of St. Louis about possibly sponsoring a troop that would be open to all. We have some families who want to work within the BSA, and there are some who definitely don’t.

    I hadn’t heard of BPSA, but we’ll definitely look into it. We also are going to look at Campfire USA, Earth Scouts, Navigators USA, Adventure Scouts USA, SpiralScouts, and 4-H.

    Thanks for the information.

  • Caleb M Fennell

    No surprises there:

    “As early as 1978, the Boy Scouts of America circulated a memorandum
    among national executive staff stating that they held it was not
    appropriate for homosexuals to hold leadership positions in BSA.[8]
    Similarly, since at least 1985, the BSA has interpreted the Scout Oath
    and Law as being incompatible with agnosticism and atheism.[9]
    In both instances, the organization asserted that it was not a new
    policy to oppose and disfavor atheism, agnosticism and homosexuality;
    and, in support of that, to deny membership to atheists and agnostics,
    and to deny leadership roles to and occasionally expel “avowed”
    homosexual persons  — rather, the BSA argued it was just enforcing
    long-held policies which had never been published or publicly
    challenged.[8][10]”
    Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_membership_controversies

    Not an organization I’ll be supporting.

  • Gus Snarp

    If only it would do any good. I’d love to see something else that accepts kids for who they are replace Boy Scouts, this BPSA, though I’ve never heard of it and will need more information, could be an option. I think it would be interesting for it to eventually be the Girl Scouts. I feel like the BSA is becoming more and more of a far right organization as the rest of America moves beyond it’s ignorant stances.

    • kenneth

      There are other groups. One is Spiral Scouts, which was sort of a big alternative for pagan types, though I think it’s open to all. This BPSA sounds good too.  The problem, of course, is that re-inventing the wheel is tough. The regular scout organization has a century plus of physical infrastructure and a kind of no-questions asked respectability with governments etc. I think any of these new organizations can offer some very good experiences, but it would take decades of very determined effort to match BSA in terms of offerings and the relative power of something like the Eagle Award. 

      • God

         As an Eagle myself, I cringe every year I hear about the ways that the BSA is warping. I was in an aggressively liberal council (Patriot), and a very liberal troop to boot. And in that troop, I was in the patrol (The Gods, we had blank icons on our sleeves ) that was comprised of the atheists. agnostic, and gay scouts (our council had passed a don’t ask, don’t tell – if told, no sex or pda with your boyfriend in the scouting events. Also known as the “No Nookie” rule.) We also all had the rainbow knot, the unofficial icon of support for the ones scouting had begun to disallow. I don’t know how strong that movement has become, or if its died entirely.

        My “Faith in something higher than myself” was a belief in string theory. The councilman nodded and approved the final interview.

        Though now I fear when I have children, it will be in a different scouting organization. Probably the BP S. Because I can no longer avoid the changes happening, and do not want those lessons of intolerance to spread to my children.

  • teressa81

    A powerful letter. Good to read something like that.

  • Alexander Unwyn Cherry

    When I was a kid, I refused to join the Boy Scouts, because they required me to lie to become a member. (Specifically, to swear that there was a Higher Power of some sort. It was the 80s, I don’t remember the specific phrasing)

  • Meghan

    My son has asked to be in the Boy Scouts and I won’t let him join because of their discriminatory ways. On the other hand, my step daughter is in the Girl Scouts because they seem to welcome “different” people with open arms. (Well most of them anyway)

    • Ed

       My son knows his parent’s stance on BSA and why we don’t want to support them. He also knows how the Girl Scouts don’t hold the same views. About a month ago we were having a cookout at a state park and a troop of boy scouts walked past. Quiet in the car  ride home a few hours later, he finally said, “I wish I was a girl so that I could join the Girl Scouts.” :(

      • ReadsInTrees

        There was a news story recently about a Girl Scout troop accepting a transgender girl (which, of course, got the bigots all up in arms about a “little boy perv” among the girls). I wonder if they’d be receptive to accepting a gender normative boy who just wanted to join a non-bigoted scouting group.

  • The Captain

    Soooo the Boy Scouts removed the one leader that they could be sure was not interested in little boys?! Since when are the Boy Scouts a Catholic organization?

    • slantrhyme

       Bingo.  I’m glad to know I’m not the only one thinking along those lines.  Shouldn’t they be actively recruiting this particular demographic? 

  • Larry Gagnon

    I find it hard to believe that the BSA is still living back in the early 20th century, at least in terms of its ethics, morality and inclusiveness. 

    This flies in the face of Scouts Canada, who accept atheists as long as you have some “basic spiritual belief”. They also accept homosexuals: http://www.scouts.ca/ca/frequently-asked-questions

    Why the policy difference between countries? 

    • Stev84

      The BSA are basically owned by the Mormons and other fundamentalist churches. The troops are sponsored by organizations that give them time, money and meeting places. Usually that’s churches who use the Scouts as a means to indoctrinate and convert children

    • TheAnalogKid

      Do they define “basic spiritual belief”?

      • Larry Gagnon

        No definition, so it could be anything, including a belief in the spirit of humanism I suppose…

        • TheAnalogKid

          Sounds like Alain de Botton would like it.

      • Cahlash

         It’s interesting that GSUSA still has the word “God” in their Scout Oath but goes out of their way to say “It is up to each member to define what god is to them”

        A clever way to be inclusive but still maintain the traditional wording.

    • Kevin

      They are related in history only. Otherwise they’re completely separate organizations.
      Boy Scouts Canada has a field for Faith Affiliation on the application form. When my boy is old enough, I intend to put “none” in that field if it’s still there.
      I’m not enthusiastic about scouting but it was important to my wife’s family: dad and grandpa were both leaders. So there’s an expectation that my son joins, assuming he can get past that “Faith Affiliation

    • Nicole

      The site states “duty to god” as its first of three principles. Defined as the responsibility to adhere to spiritual principles thus to the religion that expresses them, and accept the duties there from.

  • Steve

    Looks like the Baden-Powell Service Association is the only other international scouting organization in the USA, apart from the Boy and Girl Scouts. They follow the traditional scouting model (old-school/Indiana Jones style) and they’re inclusive and co-ed. Sounds like I need to see how I can help them out, since they’re still new and expanding.

    • Coyotenose

       I so want to join a scouting organization whose model focuses on punching Nazis and getting owned by Belloq.

      • kenneth

        This one thought the Nazis were cooler!

    • sam

      Agreed!  I was proud to be a scout, but then I found out they were anti gay/lesbian and I instantly disapproved of them.  Then I heard they were anti atheist, which I am.  I couldn’t support them now anyways, but then I started thinking about ways to have similar experiences for children but with more acceptance.  Glad I found this article, BPSA will be looked at by me and encouraged for all my friends that have children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Why is it that the girl scouts are managed by tolerant people and the boy scouts by religious dickwads?

    • I_Claudia

       From my limited (very) limited understanding of the matter, it has to do with who has become prominent in both organizations over the years. A lot of feminists have gone through and up in the Girl Scouts, and the ethos of empowering girls and emphasizing general progressive values is very much a part of the organization (though I assume your individual results can vary). The Boy Scouts went in exactly the opposite direction, in part at least to the Mormons, who have joined the scouts in great numbers and have a lot of power in the organization. This has led to a firm march towards conservatism and intolerance. I’m mildly surprised they haven’t started hinting that actually

      • kenneth

        We also need to remember that much of the difference in the gay issue between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts has to do with how homophobia works along gender lines. Lesbians aren’t perceived as a “threat” to the same degree as gay men in this country. Not to say that lesbians don’t get flack from bigots, but male homosexuality stirs a sort of deep primal fear in a different sort of way. Going back to the ancient world,it’s considered a threat to manhood itself because gay men were thought to be effeminate, lowering themselves to play the “woman’s” role etc. There’s also the absurd notion in scouting and in the RCC that the problem of child abuse is rooted primarily in the orientation of the offender – ie getting rid of gay men will solve the problem. Science and long experience prove that’s not the case, but this stuff is not operating at the rational level of the mind for many folks. 

      • Erp

         Girl Scout troops will vary but on the whole the idea of empowering women is very important.  Another difference is the structure.  In the Boy Scouts of America, the troop is owned by the sponsoring organization which is responsible for choosing leaders and sponsoring organizations have a direct voice at the council level (this can be very important if the sponsoring organization has many troops such as a major religious denomination).  In the Girl Scouts of the USA,  the troop is owned by the council and though a sponsoring organization may help out a troop it has no direct voice (instead the Girl Scouts themselves, adult members [male or female] and girls  14 years or older, elect representatives to the council and to the national). 

        ps. Despite the OP, some Girl Scout troops do backpack, camp, canoe, cave, etc.

      • Hibernia86

        Claudia has the right idea. The Girl Scouts were formed in order to empower girls so they are going to have more ties to Feminism. Feminism has become gay friendly so that is reflected in the Girl Scouts. The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, are attractive to religious groups because they seem to represent more traditional masculine ideals of survival in harsh environments and self determination. Thus religious groups, especially the Mormons, have held the Boy Scouts back from advancing.

        I was active in the Boy Scouts and the Order of the Arrow for 7 years, receiving the Eagle Scout rank. While I didn’t see any discrimination, the reason for that was that there were no out-of-the-closet gay boys and I wasn’t out-of-the-closet as an Atheist. I’m not sure what would have happened to me if I had told people my true beliefs.

    • kenneth

      The origins of this thing go back to the 19th Century in England. A lot of the “back to nature” youth movements actually had a strong tinge of neo-paganism and free thought. The movement that morphed into Boy Scouts on the other hand was dominated by guys with much more narrow and traditional notions of boyhood and manhood. It had a lot to do with nationalism and militarism. Just looking at the uniform and oaths and command structures, it really was and is a para-military organization, meant in part to groom young Brits and Americans for military service. These guys were all about “God and Country” and back in the day, the white race and western civilization. In America, a lot of the religiosity was reinforced by the Cold War panic at the thought of defeat by atheist communists etc. The organization also has ties to conservative religions by design. A great many troops have Catholic parishes or other churches as their “home base.” Looking back to my own days as a scout in the early 80s, I remember that most troop leaders tended to be ex-military, very conservative, NRA bumper sticker types of guys. Many would probably be Tea Party members these days. The problems of scouting are like those of any organization. Once a particular culture develops, it tends to self-select future leaders who match that culture. 

      • Hibernia86

        Yes, Boy Scouts was originally an organization that tried to model itself after the military. It is less so today, though they still have the uniforms. It is true that you will often see ex-military, conservative, NRA people in the Boy Scouts, but that is because they like camping. The vast majority of scout leaders are fathers of the children in Scouts.

    • Yukimi

      Perhaps you would find interesting this series of four post by Libby Anne of LoveJoyFeminism about the boy and girl scouts.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/03/boy-scouts-and-girl-scouts-the-recent-controversy.html 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

        I was going to recommend the same series — thanks for saving me the look of working it up :)  It explains a lot about the historical reasons why GSA rules and BSA drools.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=28409695 Chris Green

    Boy Scouts may eventually go the way of a number of scouting organizations which fall apart because of discrimination. The only reason the Boy Scouts have gone this long is that they opened their doors to Catholics, Jews, Blacks, etc as each group became more and more accepted in society. Of course they were just started as a way to get boys to not masturbate (or do other things that boys do) going along with the whole idea that idle hands, well you know.

  • SteveS

    Good for him! Nothing can change until honorable insiders reject their bigotry. Boy Scouts has become all about turning all their members into little avatars spouting the party line. How sad that an organization that taught skills for self-reliance is now channeling all its energies into mind control.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I, too, have a long history with the BSA. As a kid, I went through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. This was before the Mormons took over; my pack and troop were sponsored by the local elementary school I attended. There was no hint of religiosity, we just did a lot of projects and camping. A great experience. As an adult, I was an adviser to an Explorer Post (specializing in computers and electronics, sponsored by a company). Again, no hint of religious influence, and if anybody in the main office ever noticed that I crossed out the bit on the application about believing in a god, I never heard about it. But then a good friend of mine, also an adviser to the Explorer Post, chose to come out as gay. In so doing, this extremely talented guy, who guided who knows how many kids into science and technology careers, was forced to quit. I also quit, and this was right around the time that the organization really became outspoken about getting rid of gays and atheists.

    It’s a shame, because what it was when I was a kid was great. Today, I steer kids away from the BSA whenever possible. It’s not a healthy place for them.

  • Annie

    I signed a petition in support of Jennifer Tyrrell, and it said that she was an active member in the troop for a year (and was openly gay), but it wasn’t until she was elected treasurer… and found a financial discrepancy… that her sexual orientation was questioned. 

    And David-  thank you so much for sharing your journey of looking for a good scout group.  I wish you all the best.  What struck me as odd in your email was this:

     “I know a lot of Scouters who say that it isn’t really an issue at the
    “Troop” or “Pack” level, because they don’t really believe in those
    policies or won’t enforce them.”

    This just reminded me of the response I get from Catholic friends.  “Oh, well my parish isn’t anti-gay”, or “my priest doesn’t tell me not to use birth control.”  But the point is, as David knows as well, that regardless of what an independent troop or parish believes, they are financially supporting the greater umbrella of bigotry presented by the mother organization.  Good for you for taking a stand!  You are teaching your son far more than he would learn by being a BSA. 

    • Stev84

      It was pretty much the same with DADT and the military. There were accepting units. Some people were lucky enough to be able to serve relatively openly. But all it took was somehow pissing off one person, who would then make an official report in retaliation.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Every Christmas I tell people it’s immoral to buy Christmas/Holiday trees from the Scouts. The fastest way to create change in the BSA is a public boycott.  

  • Ibis3

    These are the 3 ‘G’s that bother the BSA: the Godless, the Gays and Girls.

    Sounds like every religious group everywhere.

  • Michael Carpenter

    I am an Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver recipient and a volunteer for over 20 years. I quit last year and can no longer support the BSA and their policies. 

    During my last year as a scoutmaster, and closeted atheist, one of the dads that was one of the few willing to go on camp outs with me was at the time a closeted homosexual. I knew this, but we  are good friends and I was happy to have him along. We often joked about the fact that someone in the BSA would have an aneurysm if they knew that a gay and an atheist were supervising this camp out! 

    I love working with boys and love the outdoors. I’ll look into the BPSA. Maybe that’s something I can help with. 

    • TheAnalogKid

      The leadership needs to have aneurysms . . .

  • TheAnalogKid

    I live in this area. The comments on the local news station’s story were so depressing. Not all of them, but most of them. 

    The BSA is a private organization, so until they get their shit together, fuck ‘em. Good job, David Sims.

  • MisterMaury

    My wife started up a campfire kids (Campfire USA) organization in our (very religious) neighborhood for just that reason.  We along with many of our friends are atheists and didn’t want to have our children be excluded by the bigoted policies of the BSA.   If our children decide to be atheists, it would be pretty traumatic to have them kicked out of a group they enjoy.

    The sad thing is, many parents go along with what they know to be discriminatory policy because they don’t want their kids to miss out on the fun…   It’s a tough position for them to be in if there aren’t alternatives.

    http://www.campfireusa.org/

    • Faerie Fey

       Yes! I was a campfire girl the year they started including boys and they changed it to Camp Fire USA.  This is a GREAT program and a great response to boy scouts.  They also have ways for families to participate when there’s no local council, and they’re fairly broad-based.  They have national support, and programs, as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

      How much work was it to start up the organization?  Does your wife spend a lot of time running it?

      I am increasingly of the mindset that this is what I will have to do when my boys get old enough.  I so don’t want to though… heh… I’d rather just join an existing organization and not have to do all the work, but unfortunately that is not an option.

  • DariaBlack

     The only language these people understand any more is dollars and cents. They’ll change their tune when their membership numbers stay to fall off and the money stops coming in.

    • Erp

       For the BSA the numbers are falling.   They have 20% fewer youth members in 2011 than in 1999.   Some may be in part because of  youth having competing activities but a fair bit might be because of policies on gays and godless. 

  • http://travelingtxn.blogspot.com/ Traveling Txn

    The YMCA Indian Guides is another option that already has a good foundation.  You have to put up with a lot of talk about “the great spirit” but in my experience it come across more as in the tradition of Indian religion and you can learn a lot about the Native American myths so when I was going through it we tended to think about it more as a part of those myths (I almost always was thinking about Coyote myths at the time :-D )  They dont discriminate against gays as far as I know, I know its not in their policies manual, and I haven’t seen anything anywhere about it happening on a local level.  Also they let girls join and they do all the same things as the boys.  They group kids into tribes, and some tribes are all boys, others all girls, and then there’s the boy & girl tribes.  They mostly focus on outdoors activities and the vast majority of the meet-ups are for camping, but theres also pine car derbies and other boy-scout similar activities.  So yeah enough of me bragging on my childhood memories, its a great nonboy-scout option for scouting type activities. 

    • kenneth

      I remember Indian Guides. It was pretty cool, but mostly for young kids. The name itself of course is WAY to “Un-PC” these days!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Rhoades/100000175617377 Scott Rhoades

    The Girl Scouts should change their name (Scouts of America?) and include boys, atheists, LGBT, and any other child that wishes to join. That would send a strong message to the BSA.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

      I believe they are moving somewhat in that direction.  They already allow atheists and LGBTQ.  IIRC, I think some troops are even co-ed, but don’t quote me on that.

    • Steve

      Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen for two reasons. One, the name is a no-go because of the US Congressional Charter given to the BSA allowed them to trademark and monopolized the word Scout/Scouts/Scouting, which they’ve been happy to sue non-BSA/GS-USA organizations over trying to use in the past. And two, because they are counterpart members of World Organization for the Scouting Movement and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, they can’t impede on each other’s market since they exist independently to work in tandem to cover boys and girls.

      What you’re wishing for is what the Baden-Powell Service Association is trying to do, though, and the Baden-Powell Scouts did try to utilize the “Scouts/-ing” word in their name but were sent a cease-and-desist letter from the BSA. Since they’re a member of the separate and parallel World Federation of Independent Scouts, they are not bound in sending the BSA a message and taking in their scorned members, being co-ed, etc.

      http://bpsa-us.org/ – The USA’s “Traditional Scouting” Organization

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Yep, I’m anticipating when my boys get old enough I’m going to have to look into starting up a local non-BSA group.  I’m (rather selfishly) not at all looking forward to that… it would be much easier to just send my boys to an existing program; I don’t need that stress.  But there aren’t any BSA alternatives in my area yet, and the more my wife and I talk about it, the more sure we are that we just can’t in good conscience enroll them in BSA.  Our regional council has a sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on sexual orientation, but that’s not really good enough, and in any case it doesn’t at all address the atheism problem.  Blargh…

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    It really is a shame that the scouts insist on this bullshit policy. It sounds like they are a good organization overall and lots of kids get good things out of them. Sticking to their guns on this issue is one of the most pointless exercises in petty politics out there today.

  • atheistscout

    i’m an atheist, and i’m in scouts. my friends know, and they don’t really have a problem with it. i agree with this article, i just don’t want to drop out of scouts. if i can make it to eagle without my leaders finding out, im good.


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