Or ought to be.
Back in 2000, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts could continue discriminating against gay people, Young Ken Mannion had just started Cub Scouts and I’d signed on as den leader. At the first pack meeting after the ruling, I proposed that our pack defy the Boy Scouts and welcome anyone with a son or male child they were guardian of who wanted to join. “We need all the help we can get,” I said. I’m not sure how many of the parents knew what I was talking about. I’m pretty sure at least one of the fathers who did wanted to tell me to take a hike without any scouts. But my proposal passed unanimously.
In the years we were part of that pack, it never became an issue. Few boys in the parish signed up. Few of the parents of the few who did volunteered to be leaders or even help out with the Blue and Gold dinners.
There were several reasons for this, but I think the main was that two of the mothers who were leaders of one of the dens got into a fistfight at one of the den meetings.
After we moved to this area, Ken and Oliver joined the Cub Scouts here. I continued an assistant den leader. But I didn’t raise the issue again. The fact is, I didn’t think to. In the years between, it sort of went away or at least it didn’t come back to my attention. I’m pretty sure one of the fathers who was a den leader here was gay and if anybody had made a fuss about it I’d have stood up for him but no one did. No one ever mentioned it.
When they finished with Cub Scouts, each having made it all the way through Weblos II, neither Ken nor Oliver want to move on to Boy Scouts. They had too much else on their plates by that point. And when they left Scouting, I left it too. And over the years the whole experience has moved farther and farther towards the back of my mind. I’ve hardly given it any thought. So I was startled yesterday when the news broke that the Scouts had reaffirmed their commitment to discrimination.
I think somewhere along the line I’d gotten it into my head that the Scouts had adopted their own form of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Actually, what startled me was the way I got the news, via a liberal mother’s angry declaration on Twitter that no good liberals should allow their sons to participate in Scouting.
My immediate reaction was They’re still at it? But right away I moved to challenging the mother. No, that’s the wrong way to go about this. That’s leaving the field to the bigots. The best way to challenge this and change things is from within. It’s easy enough for the Scouts to boot an individual scoutmaster or scout. It’s something else when they have to boot an entire troop.
I was pleased to read this in this story:
The announcement suggests that hurdles may be high for a couple of members of the national executive board — Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — who have recently indicated they would try to work from within to change the policy. Both of their companies have been commended by gay-rights groups for gay-friendly employment policies.
Stephenson is on track to become president of the Scouts' national board in 2014 and will likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups.
Good for Turley and Stephenson! And good luck to them!
I like Scouting. I think it’s good for kids. It teaches liberal values like community service, environmental stewardship, and---despite itself---tolerance. It also rewards kids for real achievements that don’t have anything to do with how well they perform on a football field or a basketball court or in a classroom. Not every kid can score touchdowns at will or solve differential equations. But they can learn how to sew on a button, make pancakes, treat a burn, read a map, stand up for others, help a stranger, be kind.