Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts: Losing the Boy Scouts

In Part 1 I discussed the recent media attention given to opposition to the Girl Scouts, in Part 2 I discussed the longer roots of this opposition, and in Part 3 I discussed how my perceptions of the Girl Scouts have changed. I’m now going to turn to the Boy Scouts.

Even as I was taught to associate the Girl Scouts with lesbianism and paganism, I grew up believing that the Boy Scouts was an upstanding, worthwhile organization. Based on faith in God and love of country, the Boy Scouts was held up as a model for what the Girl Scoutsshould have been. While my brothers were never actually in the Boy Scouts, my parents frequently talked about getting involved.

It wasn’t until the last few years that my opinion of the Boy Scouts began to change. The Boy Scouts, you see, does not accept gay scouts or gay troop leaders. Further, to be in the Boy Scouts you have to believe in God. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter which God you believe in. Muslims can join, Jews, Hindus, you name it, just not atheists. The Boy Scouts, then, discriminates against both gay and transgender individuals and atheists.

My husband was in the Boy Scouts growing up, and he loved it. The badges, the camp outs, the week-long hiking adventures – it was all an integral part of his childhood. He made Eagle Scout and would love to be a scout leader of some sort once our soon-to-be son is old enough. But you know what? He can’t. Our son will not be allowed to be a part of the organization that was so important to his father, and my husband is forever barred from helping with the organization that he so enjoyed being a part of. Why? Because we don’t believe in God.

Although honestly, the Boy Scouts’ insistence on standing against LGBTQ rights and even overtly discriminating against gays makes me leery of being involved regardless. It’s sort of like Focus on the Family – I used to think it was a good and wholesome organization, until I realized how much very real harm they cause with their opposition to LGBTQ rights.

But while so many conservatives Christians don’t simply state their opposition to the Girl Scouts’ values of female equality and sexual understanding and responsibility but instead create stories of “sex workshops” and even “witchcraft,” I feel need to do the same with the Boy Scouts. I disagree with what they stand for, and think their discrimination against atheists and gay and transgender individuals is appalling, I don’t feel the need to demonize them. They’re just people, after all.

I wonder if part of what’s behind conservatives’ demonization of the Girl Scouts is their dualistic view of the world. After all, if the Girl Scouts undermine Christian ideals of female submission and abstinence until marriage, then it only makes sense that the devil is behind what they do. And if the devil is there, lesbianism, abortion, paganism, and witchcraft can’t be far behind. In contrast, since I don’t believe in the supernatural I don’t see evil supernatural forces at work behind groups whose values I oppose. People can hold values I consider abhorrent or support policies I find despicable, but they’re still just people.

That, then, is the story of how I found the Girl Scouts and lost the Boy Scouts. I can’t wait to be involved in the Girl Scouts alongside my daughter someday, and I can only hope that we can find some alternative to the Boy Scouts for my husband to be involved in with my son. But this is also a story of how differing values and beliefs can so completely and totally affect how one views organizations like these.

 

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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