- My son is a Life Scout and is working toward his Eagle badge. He's been involved in scouting since he was in first grade and it's been an important part of his life. He and I have been able to have a lot of fun together over the years because he's been a Scout.
- I haven't ever known if any of the scouts in my son's troop are gay. It's quite possible that one or more of them were. It wouldn't have mattered, then or now.
- The ban on gay adult leaders isn't going anywhere. My guess is that there are openly gay adult leaders in the organization now and they will continue to be part of Scouting. Their presence will simply be below the surface.
- As you might recall, Scouting went through a sexual abuse scandal around the same time that the Catholic Church did, with much of the abuse taking place in the 1970s and 1980s. The bans came as a response to those abuses. It's not worth our time to rehearse the arguments about the policy here; I merely offer it up as an explanation.
- Beyond the ban, Scouting also has implemented other procedures for adult leaders which are pretty effective, especially "two-deep" leadership, which means that at no time can any individual scout be alone with an adult leader. I am a merit badge counselor and when I meet with scouts to discuss their progress on their merit badges, I always have another parent scout leader present. This approach makes the possibility of abuse pretty remote.
- Structurally, Scouting is a pretty loose organization. BSA can offer up whatever dictates it wants, but all troops have a chartered organization that sponsors and hosts the troop. Most of these organizations are local churches and many view homosexuality with a gimlet eye. My son's troop is sponsored by a local church and I don't know if they'll be interested in continuing to sponsor the troop because of this decision. We'll find out, I suppose. I do hope that gay-friendly churches and other civic organizations will step into the breach if individual troops start losing their sponsors. Put it this way -- they'd better.
- As a parent, what makes Scouting great is that it has given my son chances to do things he wouldn't ordinarily have done. Our family isn't into camping at all. I've often said my idea of "roughing it" is going to a motel that doesn't offer continental breakfast. Because my son has stayed with it, he's had the chance to go camping dozens of times and he's gained a love of nature and the outdoors that he wouldn't have it had been up to my wife and me. More importantly, he's gained significant benefit from the wisdom of older scouts and the wide variety of adult leaders he's met as a result of his participation. And as an adult leader, I've been able to teach kids about citizenship and their role in the community and nation. Those experiences are hugely important to those who are involved in Scouting and to the nation as well.
Friday, May 24, 2013
The Boy Scouts
After wrestling with the issue in a very public manner for a few months, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will no longer ban gay scouts from the organization. A few thoughts: