This Just In: The Boy Scouts of America Still Hates Gay People

***Update***: Jason Torpy has a follow-up post here.

The Boy Scouts have every right to ban gay people (and atheists) from their group. But that doesn’t mean it’s what they should be doing.

Here’s everything you need to know:

After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, ruling out any changes despite relentless protest campaigns by some critics.

An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” the organization’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press.

This is an organization that doesn’t deserve your support, no matter how much good it does. It’s like the church in general. Sure, they might do some really great things for a lot of people, but the way they proudly fly their banner of bigotry undoes any of the positive things they could possibly do.

If you have kids in the Boys Scouts, take them out of it and let their troop leaders know why. Don’t support a discriminatory organization with your time or money.

(Thanks to Dave for the link)

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.

  • ReadsInTrees

    I’ve already discussed this with my husband. He was in Boy Scouts growing up, and figured that if we have boys someday that they’ll also be Scouts. He’s sort of apathetic/go-with-the-majority on religious subjects, so he hadn’t thought about their policies before. I have put my foot down and said that our future children will not join a group that discriminates against gay people, let alone their atheist mother.

    • CelticWhisper

       Hopefully that snapped him out of it a little.  I think that the go-along-to-get-along people are an unsung boon to religiosity and an untapped resource for us.  If those who figure “it’s the way things are and why bother fighting it?” can be made to realize just how harmful religion, and discriminatory practices like these which are founded in religion, can actually be, then it might become a lot harder for faith to maintain a stranglehold on the public consciousness.

  • Gus Snarp

    The BSA’s stance on gay and atheist scouts and leaders saddens me deeply. I’m an Eagle Scout, and a lifetime member of the National Eagle Scout Association, but I’m not going to be enrolling my son in Cub Scouts. He doesn’t believe in God, and while maybe he will someday, I’m not going to lie to him and tell him there’s a God, or tell him to lie about believing there’s a God in order to be part of an organization that’s supposed to be about teaching values like honesty, nor would I allow him to be part of what I have come to consider a right wing hate group. This pains me deeply to say, but it’s how I feel. I wonder who was on that 11 member committee, and if it was expressly chosen with its outcome predetermined. I attended national events in the past where it was made clear that the BSA would never change its position on “the three Gs, God, Gays, and Girls”, so I don’t think for a second that this review was anything more than to say they had done it. 

    What I wish they had done is survey Eagle Scouts. I know that I’m not the only one who’s an atheist now, and I know at least one my age from my troop is openly gay now, more who never made it to Eagle are. They should ask us, not just a secret committee. Better yet, they should be moral leaders and just do the right thing and allow gay, atheist, and female scouts and leaders. They can lead the way toward social justice, or continue to drift to the right wing fringe.

    • Alan

      I’m an Eagle Scout as well, and whole heartedly agree.  For the longest time; I have wanted to give back to scouting what it gave me as a youth, but have been very disheartened by being rejected from local scouting organizations because of my Atheism.  I often think back to my Scout Oath and the pledge to “help other people at all times”.  That line is perhaps the most impactful to me still to this day.  We help other people regardless of faith, creed or sexual orientation.  I long for the day when the BSA opens it’s arms to all. 

      • http://twitter.com/KevinSagui Kevin Sagui

        Gus and Alan, you guys both stated my conflicted feelings on this perfectly.  Count me as another atheist Eagle Scout who is saddened that their stances on these issues make it impossible for me to give back to an organization that gave me so much in good conscience.  It doesn’t matter that my old troop doesn’t really give a shit about whether or not your gay or atheist (they even bent over backwards to get one of my friends, who was pretty much an atheist, approved for his Eagle), I can’t support them without supporting the parent organization.

    • Stev84

      Anyone who thought that the “review” would be anything more than show and pretending was kidding themselves.

      That this was decided by a super-secret star chamber doesn’t help their credibility either.

    • Steve

      I was in a really good troop where we actually didn’t care if you were gay or an atheist. Try to see if you can find one for your son that doesn’t follow these policies.

      • Gus Snarp

        Yes, and every time we recited the Scout Oath, pledging to “do my duty to God”, we’d be lying. Meanwhile we’d be members of an organization that has bigotry written into it’s rules. No thanks. I’m not interested in skirting the BSA’s rules, I’m interested in ending discrimination.

  • benjdm

    Based on the fact that Max Nielson hasn’t been kicked out yet, I guess they don’t hate atheists anymore, though.

    • Gus Snarp

      Don’t think for a second that the fact that one Troop, District, or Council didn’t take any action against a particular scout, especially one who’s already an Eagle Scout and close to being an adult, not to mention skirting the rules by identifying as a Unitarian, changes anything about their policy toward atheists in general. Although it may indicate that they hate gay people more.

      • benjdm

        The fact that they deleted their webpage saying that atheists and agnostics could not be members or leaders makes me think it for a second.

        Internet Wayback Machine snapshot from July, 2011:
        http://web.archive.org/web/20110725103909/http://www.bsalegal.org/duty-to-god-cases-224.asp 

        Because of Scouting’s methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders.

        If you go to the current bsalegal.org webpage, it no longer says that anymore. The page doesn’t exist.

        • Gus Snarp

          The entire section of the bsalegal.org website where you gleaned that quote has been removed, not just the part on religion. The site currently has all kinds of dead links. Not only that, what you quote is not in the BSA’s bylaws, it’s a restatement of the policy sourced only as coming from that website. The bylaws of the scouts contain the exact same wording on religion that they have for years and that is quoted farther down on the snapshot page:

          The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

          This is the section of the bylaws under which atheists have been excluded, and it is unchanged. See here: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/GuideToAdvancement/Appendix/CharterAndBylaws.aspx 

          Admittedly, this is from 2011, but that’s the most recent publication of the bylaws I can find.

          When they actually issue a statement that they’ve changed their policy, or when you find amended bylaws, let me know, otherwise don’t cite bad website maintenance or new PR mandates as evidence of a change in policy.

          Oh, and is bsalegal.org even an official BSA website? It says it was created “on behalf of” the BSA, but what does that mean? It certainly is not the official outlet for BSA policy changes.

          • benjdm

            I don’t think they’ve changed their written policy. But I do think if Max Nielson got his publicity for challenging his school’s prayer a few years ago, he would have been kicked out by now.

  • Faerie Fey

    CampfireUSA is a coed option that is completely tolerant, and even if there’s not a group in your area, they provide materials and activities to parents who want to start an informal group in their area.  I was a Campfire girl in the 1970s and we moved away just the year before it became coed.  They are VERY welcoming! Give them your support!

  • Alan Christensen

    For whatever it’s worth, the Mormon church is one of the single largest sponsors of Boy Scout troops. I don’t imagine a NO vote from them would have carried a lot of weight.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465205388 Jack Jesberger

      I am asking for clarification, as I can’t quite parse what this is meant to say.

      Does the LDS church have a lot of influence over the BSA on this issue or very little?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Luxenberg/1165501267 Marc Luxenberg

        The LDS sponsors more troops, and thus more scouts than any other religion, far ahead of the Catholic church.  The national office of BSA  must be in lock-step with the Mormons.  

        Congress should remove the symbolic Congressional Charter for the BSA.  A bill 12 years ago failed, but should be brought up again. The leadership at the national office of  BSA no longer represent scout values.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GVS36CH7BLW27ITZVWIDKRRO4Y Henry

    As the father of a 1 year old boy, I will absolutely never give a cent to this organization until they change their policies. 

  • Ed

    My son is an agnostic who used to be a cub scout. Once the religious requirements got to the point he had to declare a belief in god he quit going. Earlier this year we started a Navigators USA chapter and have 20 kids in it now. We do not discriminate based on sexual orientation or religious/non-religious preference. Navigators is a secular scouting group started in 2003. I would encourage everyoen to look into it if you still want to be part of a scouting group.

    • Bearcat_Ed

      I was going to post about Navigators as well.  My 7-year old son was lured in by the Cub Scouts organization that came and set up camp (no pun intended) in their lunchroom at school and sent flyers home in his backpack. Telling him how much fun they would have doing archery, camping, hiking, and earning badges. His 7-year old self was all excited and we had to sit down with him and tell him why our family wouldn’t be participating. My research for alternate organizations turned up Navigators, but sadly, no chapter within reasonable distance of our town. Then Ed above (my name is Ed too, by the way) came to the rescue and we heard through the grapevine about the chapter he was starting. And now my son and daughter are both Junior Navigators and having a blast.  

  • Max

    This is the wrong approach.  It really is a great organization.  They don’t sit around and teach the boys to discriminate.  It never comes up in 99.99% of troops.  The correct approach is to change it from within.  Scouts and leaders should make it clear to the national organization that they do not agree with the policy and that it should be changed.  Don’t try to kill off a quality organization that has a change that needs to be made.  Work to get that change made.  

    • Gus Snarp

      I would have to lie to become an adult leader. My son would have to lie to be a Scout. To me, the Trustworthy part of the Scout Law, coming first as it does, trumps the Reverent part, coming last, so changing from within is not an option for me. Eagle Scouts have sent back their badges over this, letters have been written, and the BSA simply doesn’t listen. I expect you’re right that this doesn’t come up in most troops, but I simply won’t be a part of this organization. This is not a minor issue at the national level. I was at a National Order of the Arrow Conference years ago that hosted a session expressly on “the three Gs”, at which national leaders spoke on these policies, and that session, at the least, taught discrimination. At the time my views were far removed from what they are now, but looking back, I am deeply disturbed by what I heard in that room. No, I will not support the BSA in any way until they change.

    • 1000 Needles

      I strongly disagree. To remain on the membership roster of an organization to which you are ideologically opposed is to tacitly support their positions.

      The BSA will not “die.” The Scouts will change their official stance when they lose enough members and enough money that they have to change to survive.

      Would you encourage Catholics that disagree with church dogma to remain Catholics? What about poor, gay, or minority republicans? Could they change their organizations from within? If you think they can, I’d be curious as to know how.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465205388 Jack Jesberger

        I’m not completely convinced of this “tacit support” theory.  I can acknowledge defeat in an election, but that doesn’t mean that I tacitly support the policies that prevailed.  The idea that you have to take your ball and go home because you don’t like an outcome, is that sensible?  It seems a little self-absorbed to treat every involvement as nothing other than tailored self-expression.   That amounts to treating others as means to an end, which tends to be ethically precarious. 

        I would encourage anyone who is part of a group to take seriously the role they play in providing a base of power for their hierarchy.  As with the recent scandal at Penn State, where the existence of a loyal mob that could be counted on to rise up in Paterno’s defense allowed him to keep his position when the university wanted him to leave.  Some of that mob  did rise up when he was fired for obvious malfeasance and gross dereliction.  I would tell anyone, Catholics included,  to avoid getting so bound up in identity and loyalty that it gives anybody excessive power.

  • http://twitter.com/FictionFaith Faith in Fiction
    • ReadsInTrees

      I read your article, and understand your reluctance to withdraw from an activity that your son greatly enjoys. I understand that your family has never faced persecution for being atheist, and it’s less of an issue at the local level, so you continue to support the Scouts. I find this a little bit like Catholics who say, “Yeah, the higher ups allowed priests to continue molesting children, but our parish has no problems and none of MY kids have ever been molested, so….Anyway, we really enjoy the Catholic community.”

    • Stev84

      Local troops can be fine with either atheism or homosexuality. The problem is mostly with the sponsoring organizations, which are usually churches. In several stories I’ve read about gay leaders, their troop itself didn’t care but then someone higher up got wind of it and they were fired.

  • John Dillinger

    Boy scouts are nothing more than a fascist upstart

    • The Other Weirdo

       There’s an urge to call everyone we disagree with, Fascist. However, let’s not forget that the BSA is a voluntary membership organization that the wider culture in no way penalizes those who have never been members. It’s not as though the Boy Scouts are Young Pioneers who deny membership to a kid who believes in free market capitalism. Now that’s an organization you need to be a part of in your youth in a certain part of the world.

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fascism

    • http://twitter.com/KevinSagui Kevin Sagui

      Actually they’re so much more than that.  The national organization is horribly bigoted against gays, non-theists and women, and isn’t worth of support because of that, but that doesn’t mean they’re nothing more than a fascist upstart.  They’re nothing like that.  When you use specific negatives for general derisiveness, you weaken both the meaning of the word and the message you’re trying to convey.

  • http://twitter.com/GingerAtheist (Jimmy)GingerAtheist

    This is sad because I am an out atheist and an Eagle scout. I can’t speak for the corprate side of BSA but from experience I am sure that the scouts generally don’t care unless there is that one troop leader that does which for where I live is few and far in between.

  • mattand

    I forget: why is it legal for the Boy Scouts to discriminate and not be a violation of gays’ civil rights, but it’s illegal for a business like a restaurant to do it?

    Seems like any discrimination due to gender, race, or sexual preference should be illegal, especially in light of the Civil Rights Act.

    EDIT: Now that I’m reading back my post, I’m wondering if the answer is that sexual preference is something that is still technically legal to practice. I’m fairly certain it’s not covered in the Civil Rights Act.

    Also, I guess going to a restaurant isn’t a civil right. I’m so confused…

    • Stev84

      There is no federal law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination. Some states prohibit it, but even that probably doesn’t apply to private organizations (even though that’s not strictly the case since they are government supported). You’d have to read the SCOTUS decision to learn the exact reason.

      The BSA is also a quasi-religious organization and they demand to be exempt from any laws based on that alone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465205388 Jack Jesberger

      The majority opinion was essentially that a private organization can decide who it is for and who it is not for.  Augusta National for example, is under no legal obligation to allow women to be members for the same reason.   So the BSA was ruled to be free to exclude gays on similar grounds.   In fact, a particular kind of religious discrimination is both legal, and supported within the BSA at the troop level.  For example, a Jewish Temple can charter a troop exclusively for the boys who are part of its membership.  Thus they can refuse membership to any outsiders that might wish to join.  It can be for all intents and purposes a Jewish only troop.  Same for any confession or denomination recognized by the BSA.  As long as the exclusive group is part of the natural definition of the chartering organization, the troop can exclude.  Most chartering organizations choose not to be exclusive, and with membership slipping its no surprise. 

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I still can’t figure out how the Boy Scouts get away with chartering troops through the public schools. How can public school troops deny certain children membership based on religion, when religion (including atheism) is a protected class?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465205388 Jack Jesberger

    I’m reluctant to take this stance for the following reasons.  At one point BSA was populated by a fair cross section of the national political spectrum.  Then in the sixties  the left abandoned the organization, in part over the Vietnam war.  The explicitly military trappings, as well as the historically supportive attitude of the organization for the military’s actions were a prime target for that anger.   In essence any semblance of a liberal presence within BSA evaporated, and the organization was simply abandoned to its most rightist and reactionary elements.  This trend has since ossified into a fact of life.

    So I don’t know precisely know how to hear these objections in that context.  On one hand they accurately portray the true flavor of the existing body of the BSA.  Explicit exclusionary policies against homosexuals are hateful and onerous.   On the other hand the objections are made up of voices from a part of the body politic that sacrificed their influence within the organization to make one angry point decades ago, and who would rather make angry demands and deny support from the outside rather than reclaim the territory from which they could cast a meaningful vote as a constituency.  It’s probably unrealistic of me to think there’s anything for that now, but it kind of ticks me off.   I’m sorely tempted to say, “Look you were happy to turn the damn thing over to those assholes; did it not occur to you that they were going to be like this?”.    I think the answer to that question would be, “Well, that would only make a difference if we gave a damn about scouting anymore, but we don’t, so…”There’s something distastefully Balkanized about that stance for me.On the other hand, I have no sympathy for the current dominant forces in the BSA, who I know count themselves glad to be rid of the meddling left, and see the BSA as currently constituted as a bulwark against liberal ideas.  For one thing, heterosexuality is fairly outside their operational pureview.  Can you imagine the merit badge requirements?  “4a. Go on a date or attend a mixed party.  Get to first, then second base with a partner.  Discuss how it felt with your merit badge counselor”. The point being, the organization already keeps sexuality at arms length in its operations, and could easily fold homosexuality under the same umbrella.  They could stop being dicks with this cruel extra exclusion tomorrow without batting an eye. 

    • Gus Snarp

      Is there a written history of this abandonment of Scouting by the left in the sixties? I don’t doubt that a lot of people on the left abandoned scouting then, maybe even the largest number to leave at any one time, but I will say that there were still at least some old hippies and left leaning types left in the organization through the nineties. At large enough events some could always be found. There were even more fairly centrist or apolitical types. I get the feeling that the march to the right began in the sixties, and has gone farther with each passing year. Certainly some of the way they use the word “values” that seems to mirror the religious right in some of their publications now feels new to me. I think they’re farther right now than they were twenty years ago, and I certainly wonder what they were like thirty years before that. A decent history of the politicization of the BSA, and how it happened at different levels of the organization, would make a fascinating read.

  • http://crystaljhollis.com/ Crystal

    Is there another group that does similar activities that is gay and atheists friendly?

    • Ed

      Navigators USA (www.navigatorsusa.org)

    • Tony
      • Erp

         The UK scouting organization isn’t atheist friendly though I suspect it has a large number of non-theist scouts and scouters.  

    • Stev84
    • http://www.facebook.com/tuxz0r David Atchley

      Crystal, see my comment later on, but there is: check out the BPSA (Baden-Powell Service Association) at http://bpsa-us.org or their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/bpsa.us. 

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      There isn’t quite the same focus on camping, but 4-H is completely secular:

      The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is home to National 4-H Headquarters and the 4-H Youth Development Program, prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or family status. As a result, 4-H programs must have secular purposes focused on education and must not advance religion. Promoting religion, or explicitly or implicitly requiring religion or practices that specifically support one denomination, such as Christianity, as a condition for participation in 4-H club meetings or activities not only has religious purpose, it has the obvious effect of promoting one religion over others and can create a barrier for participation among other groups. If 4-H activities and programs included prescribed religious prayers, scriptures, or religious components to club bylaws, activities, or names, it would inject impermissible sectarian overtones. Such violations could create the impression that 4-H is not open to participation by all.

  • Jim

    They’re an old and highly respected institution that influences boys when they’re most impressionable, and they do enormous damage with their bigotry. They’re the reason I hid my atheism from my parents and peers for as long as I did, and severing ties with the boy scouts cut me off from many friends at a tough time in my life.

    The Boy Scouts were started with a congressional charter, and still get enormous amounts of public help in the form of sponsorships by government agencies, free lodging on military bases and other public property, and other sources. 
    When they sever all of these ties and take no public support, *then* they’ll have every right to discriminate. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kingdesofmuff Des Johnston

    Its funny ’cause Lord Baden Powell himself said;

    “Are you a possibly over-keen upholder of your ownparticular social class, political party or formof religion? These distinctions are sunk in the brother-hoodof Scouting. Practise tolerance-teach your boys tostudy both sides of any question before makingup their mind on it.”

    and
    “Do you pride yourself on your view of a question happeningto be the right one?Look wider-and then look wider still.”Someday BSA will realise how stupid they look.

    • Stev84

      Baden-Powell is also rumored to have been gay by some biographers

  • http://www.facebook.com/tuxz0r David Atchley

    Hemant posted one of my comments in a post previously around the time Jennifer Tyrrell was taken out of her volunteer position with her Cub Pack in Ohio; and I’d like to comment here again.

    The Boy Scouts of America has no intention of changing its policies on exclusionary membership practices.  At some point, especially since the Supreme Court upheld that practice in a decision in 2000, you have to come to grip with the fact that, at the National Level, the BSA considers themselves to be a private, religious organization.  The controlling board and national staff are all from this same type of background and the move towards that style of an organization has been taking place since the Advance Party Report back in the late 60′s early 70′s.  

    A number of us have tried to change the organization from the inside in the past.  It’s not possible.  The adults, parents and leaders in the BSA don’t have any chance of influencing national policy – they have no real leverage.  The only leverage they have is taking their membership and money elsewhere.  And, to an extent, this has been happening for the last 20 years – the BSA’s membership numbers are in steady decline, only occasionally propped up by membership numbers in their Learning for Life program which is separate from the Scouting program.

    Eventually, though, those of us working at changing from the inside got the message – either due to the inaction and ineffectiveness of what we were doing, or directly as was my case when the PR director for the Council told me I wasn’t the type of leader they were looking for and to go elsewhere.

    I think it’s time that those of us that DO believe that Scouting is a good program (and I’m not talking about the BSA, but the Scouting movement which is world wide) use the leverage we have finally go elsewhere.  I did this back in 2008 and have been working diligently and passionately, with the few resources I have, since then in helping an alternative Scouting Association here in the US try and make something of itself and grow – the Baden-Powell Service Association (http://bpsa-us.org).

    The BPSA’s goals are to provide a traditional scouting program for youth and adults in the US that is both co-ed and open and inclusive.  Scouting is NOT just the BSA and Girls Scouts. Scouting was a world wide movement started by a single man in 1907 – and the spirit of that movement is so much greater than what the BSA makes it out to be in this country.  The BPSA is a member of the World Federation of Independent Scouts, which comprises 81+ Scouting Associations in 44 different countries around the world.

    We’re small and working hard to make a difference. But no real and viable alternative to the BSA policies and program will ever really make a difference if people don’t get behind the movement and support it, start local groups, join as lone scouts and make the difference visible in their local community!  I want Scouting to be available to EVERYONE in the US, and I’d like to encourage those of you upset that the BSA has gone (and continues to go) this route and understand the not only the benefits of co-ed and inclusive youth organizations but a traditional scouting program that is back to basics to help support the BPSA.

    Check out our web site or Facebook page for more information – or even feel free to get in touch with me directly (I’d be happy to give out my personal email or phone # for those with questions or interest).

    Movements and protests trying to get the BSA to change from the inside (or pressure it to change from the outside) aren’t working – this statement from their special committee on Tuesday reaffirms that fact.  But putting your effort behind a scouting program that does represent all those things you thought and wanted the BSA to stand for will.  BPSA’s mantra is “Scouting for Everyone” and I encourage you to take a look and contact us (or me) and help make a difference!

    BPSA: http://bpsa-us.org
    BPSA on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bpsa.us

    • Gus Snarp

      Thanks for posting! I had been looking for that link for a while now, I remembered it from the earlier post, but couldn’t find it!

  • neil.eaton

    There is a big difference between “Boy Scouts” and “Boy Scouts of America”. The first is an umbrella term that includes groups in many countries.  My sons have all been proud members of our country’s Boy Scout group, Scouts Canada. Discrimination based on sexual orientation (along with race, religion etc.) is specifically banned in their bylaws. The only time my son’s atheism came up was during a trip to the US, where the leader quietly informed him that he was an agnostic as long as he was south of the border.

    • Gus Snarp

      Sometimes I really wish I was Canadian. I’m sure I can think of some things that are screwed up in your country, but so many times you make us look like chumps.

      • neil.eaton

        We keep trying to set a good example, but you are a stubborn lot. Really, how hard of an idea is “Play nicely with others, even if they are different”?

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    As long as there are 15-year-old boys on overnight camping trips, there will be homosexuality in the Boy Scouts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465205388 Jack Jesberger

      Probably true as far as it goes.  Still, it seems reasonable to exclude sexual behavior from scouting events as a matter of policy.   In fact this is what drives me crazy about having extra rules regarding homosexuality.  Many BSA summer camps employ young co-ed counselors and staff.  The rules and policies forbid heterosexual hookup between them (or with post-pubescent campers) within the context of scouting.  If they want to date on their day off, fine, but if they get caught in flagrante on-site, they’re sent packing.  I don’t understand why this isn’t sufficient across the board.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

    I’m sure I am in the minority here, as it seems like everybody and his brother was a Boy Scout at one time; but as a kid, I had absolutely no interest in joining this organization, even though I had many friends that were scouts themselves.  Maybe it’s just that I’m not a “joiner” by nature, and I do realize that
    at it’s core, the Boy Scouts has good intentions — but there was just something about the uniforms, pledges, songs, rituals, etc., that reminded me just a bit too much of a church (cult).  While the previous comment about the BSA being “fascist upstarts” may be hyperbolic rhetoric, I do think it’s important to remember that the Third Reich modeled Hitler’s Youth after the German Boy Scouts organization of the 1930′s, and that kids at this age are very susceptible to indoctrination — whether sexual, religious, or nationalistic — no matter how subtle.

    I don’t intend for this post to be offensive to any former Boy Scouts/Eagle Scouts in this community, but I am curious if anybody else shares my opinions on this. 

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t find it offensive. I think Boy Scouts can be great, and I loved it, but there are definitely militaristic elements, and they’re intentional. There’s no doubt that part of the Boy Scouts’ goal is to create patriotic citizens, and there’s some indoctrination in that, although how much depends on the individual troop (I’ve seen some that were downright scary, though mine didn’t bang the drum too hard). And frankly, when I see some publications of the BSA these days I see parallels to Republican and religious right talking points. I wouldn’t say it reminds me of a cult, but yeah, it can be a bit creepy sometimes, and I feel like it’s getting more so.

  • Gus Snarp

    OK, so here’s something that really pissed me off. There’s this BSALegal.org site, that I don’t know whether is official in any way or not, but someone referenced it below, and on an old archived page(
    http://web.archive.org/web/20100213170330/http://www.bsalegal.org/morally-straight-cases-225.asp )  they used the “morally straight” part of the Scout Oath as being somehow against homosexuality. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they meant by “straight” back when the oath was written, and here’s the definition of “morally straight” from the Boy Scout Handbook (actually quoted on that webpage!):


    To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people.
    Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance. 

    Emphasis mine. The irony is stunning, isn’t it? And nothing in there about being gay. But then came the really disgusting part: it’s the clean in there that they thing precludes homosexuality. They even mention that the Scout Law states that a “Scout is clean”. That is disgusting. They’re saying homosexuality is unclean. That goes against the notion that Scouting accepts any religious affiliation, because only a few consider homosexuality “unclean”, it has nothing to do with what was meant by clean when these things were written, and it is deeply insulting to the entire LGBT community. I’ll note once again that I have no idea if, and strong doubts as to whether, anything on that page that’s not a quote from another source represents any official BSA statement. But still, the thinking is just disturbing.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Not agreeing with their policies is why families are also removing their girls from the girl scouts.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Sure, and they’re free to do that. However, it’s important to point out that the Girl Scouts aren’t discriminating against anyone. Ironically (or not), that’s why conservative Christians have such a problem with them.

  • treedweller

    I agree with all this except the last paragraph. The best part of scouting teach kids to be leaders and good citizens. Atheists generally support free thought. So I say, if you have kids in scouts, tell them why you don’t support the organization but let the kid figure it out for himself.

    Having said that, I really liked scouts and wish I could still support it, but I can’t and don’t.

  • Mikemike

    The Boy Scouts aren’t telling gay people to change to being straight people.
    So why do gay organizations want to change an obviously straight organization?
    Leave them alone and start your own.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      “The country club isn’t telling black people to change to being white people. So why do black organizations want to change an obviously white organization? Leave them alone and start your own.”

      See how that sounds?

  • http://twitter.com/sven_storm Sven Storm

    Why is it that The UK Boy Scouts don’t discriminate, and the world hasn’t ended? How have they got it so right, and the USA can’t figure it out?!

  • Eaglescottmu

    As an Eagle Scout, it saddens me to see the hypocricy of the national level of Scouting. However as I read through many of your comments I saw many things that I disagree with. I am an atheist and have made this very clear with the scout troops I have worked with yet none of them have rejected me or kicked me out as a result. In fact many of the scouts I work with have looked up to me more in light of my willingness to stand up for my own beliefs. At the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation I have seen troops come in dedicated to their beliefs. There are troops out there that are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, even Atheist. The majority of troops in the US are not sticklers on the religon part of Scouting simply because they know of the diversity of religons that this country holds.

    On the subject of gays, I also do not agree with the way scouting has banned any in the gay community. I chiefly am disappointed with camp Geiger. Earlier this summer, a staff member revealed that he was gay and ended up being fired for it. Many of us on camp staffs across the state were infuriated by this and attempted to have his firing repealed. Unfortuantely, we were unsuccessful. Even though someone is gay, it does not mean they can’t be great leaders. I’ve known many gay people to come through as Eagle Scouts a be shining examples to those scouts who have just joined a troop. Again, this is where the national level of scouting has failed. By banning gays without the word from individual scouts and troops, they have given scouting a bad name by making it seem like all scouts do not want gays in their troops. While I cannot say that many would be overjoyed to let gays in, it would not be something that a majority of scouts would hate.

    As for girls, there was a seperate organization set for them: the Girl Scouts. What many do not realize is that men were allowed in Girl Scout activities due to a serial rapist/murderer that targeted girl scout troops on campouts. The girls’ dads were allowed to come for protection reasons but other than that, men were still kept out of girl scout affairs. People are pushing for a joined scouting community but what they fail to realize is that there already is one. Venture Scouting is a scouting organization that allows both boys and girls. So when people say that they want an organization that isn’t gender oriented, why then do they not look a little harder to see that there is one?

    • Erp

       Two problems with Venture Scouting, first it is only for older youth and second it is part of the BSA and has to abide by the BSA rules on gays and god.   Yes many BSA troops and packs have gays and the godless but only as long as they aren’t known either to national or to the council if the council is enforcing the rules.

      Camp Fire seems to be the only group that doesn’t discriminate.

      BTW there was only one attack on a girl scout camp though it involved three rapes/murders in 1977.   I believe male leaders pre-exist this event though then and now there must be a female co-leader (and some of it was up to the council).

       


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