The Boy Scout Dilemma

A few months ago, the Dadcentric blog published a post about the discriminatory policy of the Boy Scouts of America.

I read it, nodded in agreement, and then went and got ready for my son’s Boy Scout meeting.

That’s right, we’re staying with the Boy Scouts.

But why? The answer is complicated, of course, but it really boils down to me having to do what’s best for my son. Since joining Scouts, my son has changed in profound and positive ways. Socially, intellectually, physically.

There is no other group in my area that could have provided these opportunities to him.

So, I am forever grateful to Boy Scouts for how it is helping shape my son. He’s not the only one, as I see many boys in our troop who are badly in need of the leadership skills taught through rank advancement and merit badges.

At the same time, I clearly recognize that the organization is deeply flawed and in need of change.

My son, and the other boys in his troop, know that the national policy of discrimination is wrong. They also know that this policy is only in place because the LDS church holds the purse strings for the Boy Scouts.

The Mormon Church charters over half of all Boy Scout troops in this country. It is their de facto youth ministry.

This leaves many other troops, especially those chartered by civic organizations or progressive churches, on the outside when it comes to the making of policy.

Until the Mormon Church changes its policies, the Boy Scouts will not change theirs. It’s really that simple.

So, what do we do in the meantime? Do we give up on the Boy Scouts and 100 years of wonderful traditions? Or do we stay and wait it out, maybe try to have some influence?

Like I wrote previously, I have to do what’s best for my son. And what’s best for him right now is to take advantage of everything that Scouting has to offer.

The compromise is that he does it in a tolerant, progressive troop, chartered to an inclusive church, where he learns that discrimination of any sort is not acceptable.

I’m quite proud of my son for what he’s accomplished in the last two years of Scouting. He’s learned everything from whitewater rafting to welding to wilderness survival. He’s become an avid coin collector after taking a merit badge on the subject. He’s picked up a bugle and is attempting to play Reveille. He’s learned to get along with boys from ages 11 to 18, and they’ve learned to get along with him.

I’m most proud that, when he heard the news that the BSA was reaffirming its discriminatory policy, his response was, “That’s not right. We need to change that.”

We’ll try.

16 thoughts on “The Boy Scout Dilemma

  1. We are in the exact situation as you – my son has experienced the wonderful benefits of scouting and will need it even more in the future as Don’s Lou Gehrig’s disease progresses. His troop does seem very progressive though. My son has the added complication of being of being a non-believer. Hasn’t posed a problem yet!

    • As a father who was a Scout and whose son was excluded because our family were non-believers, I have heard from boys who were non-believers also, and who were kicked out of Scouting because they told the truth at their Eagle Board of Review.

      I’d plan accordingly. . .

  2. Hmmm, I guess it’s just lucky that your son is not gay. That would make it tough to explain to him why he’s not good enough to even have the opportunity for all the great experiences and wonderful traditions he’s currently being afforded by virtue of being a member of such an openly bigoted group.

    • Gay or not, it’s tough to explain any kind of bigotry to kids. There are plenty of Scout troops out there that basically thumb their noses at the national policies of the BSA. If all the good people left Scouting, there would be nobody left to change those policies!

  3. If there were openly gay members, what, if anything, would happen when your heterosexual son were hit-on by one or more of them? Slept in the same tent with him? Saw two gay members in overt emotional behavior?

    • Every boy knows what behaviors are inappropriate in Scouting. We also don’t let the boys bring their girlfriends on campouts.

    • Youth Protection guidelines are very specific on what is proper behavior and inappropriate. My question is, if you abide by these fundamental tenants then why do you need a ban at all? It is because gay men can’t biologically reproduce together, and that would mean less Mormon babies to give their tithe to the cult.

  4. Why is no one going after the Baptists for not allowing Jews as members? Or, Jews, not allowing Baptists into membership? Or, Muslims not allowing infindels into their membership? Would any religion accept a non-believer into membership? Aren’t they also discriminating?

    • they do all the time! I have never seen a church (and I have worked at many all over the country of many denominations) exclude anyone.

  5. Unfortunately, politics, religion and common sense are not always joined hand in hand. My goal is to enjoy my kid and teach her as many life skills as possibly to help them through life and prepare them for a time when I am not around to help. In a time where schools are now focused on teaching kids just enough to get by for graduation, children cannot cook or sew or swing a hammer. If navigation through life was based on a game system controller, then we have highly skilled children.

    In order for our children to learn skills and develop social skills, then need structured groups like Boy/Girl Scouts. The drawback to that is that we have to sacrifice our political and social beliefs for the the sake of our children’s learning. Bigotry and racism can and will be found in every social group. Just some are hidden as others are very vocal.

    A shame we just can’t wipe the slate clean and start society over again.

  6. Just curious, but I have never been to any event (other than Jambo) where a troop chartered by an LDS temple has participated. Not only that, but never seen a leader at a roundtable; never a Silver Beaver dinner, and in the OA? Maybe they should really try to be part of the program before hijacking it (or do what most churches do… have a youth ministry; oh wait… its not a church. its a cult). At some point the BSA has to decide if the price tag on their morality has come at too high a cost; a destruction of the program itself.

  7. This has been a HUGE issue for me of late. I am an Eagle Scout and very thankful to the program. Scouting taught me the leadership, management skills and crisis management that has made me a successful Broadway stage manager. However I have a hard time trying to justify bigotry of any kind especially when, in all honesty, it goes against the Scout Oath and Law.

    Its really hit home because I have taken over as Cubmaster of my son’s pack. We have not had any direct conflict and I have even recruited boys with lesbian parents. There is no doubt in my mind that if my pack forced the issue with me I would be out there before they could finish the sentence but I have had a hard time justify still participating in a program that, as a policy, teaches hate. This issue is on my mind everyday and was hit a little closer to home yesterday when I had to explain to my 7 year old son why we could not go to Chick-fil-A and I thought “but what if he knew about the BSA BS??”

    I plan to give the best and most inclusive program possible because I think the core of the program has a lot to give.

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