The Boy Scouts will be reaching a decision in the coming months about whether to admit gay people into their ranks (As scout masters and as scouts themselves). This is coming after the recent victories at the ballot box for gay marriage, the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the President’s support for gay marriage too.
While I was never a Boy Scout as such, I was part of the Cub Scouts (Webelos to be exact). Cub Scouting is part of the Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), available to boys from first through fifth-grade, or 7 to 11½ years of age and their families. Its membership is the largest of the three BSA divisions (Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing). Cub Scouting is part of the worldwide Scouting movement and aims to promote character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.
I remember going on an overnight camping trip with the group. We hiked, did crafts, played games, sang and more. I didn’t know at the time I was in the Scouts that I was gay. I did feel different at times, because I was more of a book worm, and not an athletic person. And I was shy too.
I didn’t stay on with the Scouts for whatever reason, but I enjoyed the time I had with them. As for allowing gay people in the troops and as troop leaders, I am glad that they are having this discussion. I see similar conversations happening around dinner tables, in churches and in the workplace.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that being gay didn’t matter? I didn’t choose this for myself, I just happened to be. I believe that I was born gay. I want a world where all children are treated the same. They are encouraged, mentored and challenged to be the best young people they can be.
Growing up can be tough on anyone… but more so for gays and lesbians. You often don’t have the love or support of your family or your church for who you are or even who you might be. You tend to beat yourself up and put yourself down because you don’t quit fit the norm.
A decision from the Boy Scouts was supposed to be made back in February, but it is being delayed until May. The Boy Scouts acknowledged the delay saying the issue of sexual orientation was too complex and needed more time for study.
The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May in Grapevine, Texas. The move came amid declining membership, questions by corporate sponsors and public pressure from activists who oppose the current national ban.
“Today the Boy Scouts of America have chosen to remain irrelevant by delaying the vote,” said James Dale, who was expelled from the Scouts in 1990 for being openly gay. “For over 23 years, since I was expelled from the Scouts, I have held out hope that the Boy Scouts would end their discriminatory policy. With each passing day the Scouts will continue to lose members, sponsors and funding. No parent or child should associate with an organization that sends a toxic message telling children they are immoral if they are gay.”
GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, condemned the decision to wait. “An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hard-working parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick stated.
“The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current Scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced. We’re living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory. They had the chance to end the pain this ban has caused to young people and parents; they chose to extend the pain.”
Those seeking to keep the ban were also vocal. A majority of the Boy Scout organizations are sponsored by local churches, many of which have religious objections to homosexuals.
President Obama even weighted in on the issue: “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life,” said Obama, who as U.S. president is the honorary president of BSA.
Whatever happens, I am glad that they are having this discussion. I hope the message they send with their decision is one of inclusion and diversity.
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.