Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are the Boy Scouts Still Relevant?

Today the Boy Scouts of America delayed a decision on whether or not they should ease their policies regarding gay scouts and scout masters. In 2000 The US Supreme Court, in a suit against the BSA, allowed the Boy Scouts to legally exclude gays from their membership. Since then the Boy Scouts have lost a great deal of money from corporate sponsors, whose own non-discrimination guidelines, were in conflict with the Boy Scouts discrimination against gays. Because membership in the scouts took a nose dive, the leadership of the Scouts has been toying with the idea of leaving the decision to accept or reject gays, up to the local chapters, instead of declaring one way or another on the national level.

Once again the religious right is leading the fight to force the Boy Scouts to continue to reject gays from membership, espousing their own core Christian values of racism, bigotry and hate.

I was a Boy Scout and I must say that I never knew anyone in the organization, who was gay. Hell at that time I didn't even know what a gay was. Years later I realized that people I had known in the scouts were gay. They turned out to be decent, upstanding members of the community. I don't think I learned anything worth while by being a member of the Scouts. I was a member of a scout troop that was sponsored by a Catholic church and I can remember that the other troops in town were sponsored by other religious denominations. I don't believe that anyone in my troop or anyone else I knew in any of the other troops viewed any experiences we had as being a moral lesson. The members of my troop, as well as other troops, I was aware of , were all friends of the sons of the scout masters. Basically the scout leaders were only there because their sons were in the troops. Many times, after the boys left the troop, so did their fathers.
We did not have any racial minorities in my troop and I don't believe there were any in any of the other troops in my city. One thing that I was aware of was that the church sponsored troops only had members from that church. I do remember at Camporees and other gatherings of many troops, there was some animosity between Catholics and the Protestant  church sponsored troops. The animosity didn't involve scout to scout, but scoutmaster to scouts. The adults discriminated, and presumably tried to teach those values to the boys. Whenever I recited the Scout Oath or the Scout Laws I didn't give the meaning of what I was saying a second thought. They were just a bunch of words to me and I am quite sure that many other Boy Scouts felt the same. I enjoyed dressing up in a uniform and going camping and I could care less about anything else. I didn't even know what morally straight meant and I still don't know it is supposed to mean, except maybe that only straight people have morals.

Since the Supreme Court's decision to allow the Boy
Scouts to discriminate against gays, I have not contributed to the United Way, as they financially support the Boy Scouts. To me that would be the same as contributing to organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan , Neo-Nazi groups or other white supremacist groups. It was not that long ago that the Boy Scouts excluded Blacks. The boy Scout organization in the US differs from the organizations in Canada and Europe in that it does not allow gays in any position. I personally feel that the Boy Scouts of America are irrelevant in today's world. They have evolved into a right wing religious organization that serves the purpose of the hatred and bigotry of the adults involved. The US condemns madrasa's of the Islamic faith where hatred and bigotry directed to non believers is taught, but at the same time it supports the Boy Scout's right to teach our youth hatred and bigotry towards gays. If the BSA wishes to continue with their present policies, it is their right to do so, but not with government support or any support from the public. If they contend that allowing gays to be members is a violation of their religious beliefs, then they should be considered a religious institution. The next step is to take away their tax exempt status, along with that same status for all religious organizations.

It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to evolve into an inclusive group dedicated to ALL youths of this country, just as the Girl Scouts did. If they don't, then some other organization dedicated to helping youth become all they can become should be given assistance to increase their memberships. As far as I can see the Boys and Girls Clubs have been doing a far better job than the Boy Scouts. BSA be prepared to change or become a dinosaur.


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