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Pack 442
January 27, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Cub Scout Pack 442 of Cloverly, Maryland, has been forced by the BSA National Capital Area Council to remove a non-discrimination statement from its website that included sexual orientation.

Since BSA's affirmation of their anti-gay policy in July 2012, BSA has lost several major sources of funding, including UPS, United Way, the Merck Company Foundation and the Intel Foundation.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (125 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Compare Intel's $700k to the LDS church's tens of millions in donations, and I doubt the BSA is really all that motivated to change, are they?
posted by middleclasstool at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm glad a pack decided to publicly throw an elbow like this, though. Hopefully this will lead to packs and troops around the country doing likewise, very loudly and very publicly. Fresh air and sunlight's the only way to get rid of the smell of mothballs. Anything else just covers it up.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:02 AM on January 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ugh, so vile.
posted by elizardbits at 10:02 AM on January 27, 2013


Compare Intel's $700k to the LDS church's tens of millions in donations, and I doubt the BSA is really all that motivated to change, are they?

If money is your motivation to do the right thing, you are not doing the right thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2013 [51 favorites]


I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that the Girl Scouts are completely inclusive and non-discriminatory, and are currently in the midst of cookie sales. Go support a local troop today. Your thin mints are waiting.
posted by phunniemee at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2013 [96 favorites]


I was a cub scout and damn if I didn't enjoy those activities and learning stuff, but the leadership is off the rails, so blinkered they think a non-discrimination clause is "political."

Ridiculous.

Dear Girl Scouts, ever think of starting something up for boys? Because I hear you're saner and you have great cookies.
posted by zippy at 10:08 AM on January 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


“The policy of the Boy Scouts are what they are and my job is to not bring into (it) my own personal feelings, and all I am trying to do is maintain the quality and integrity of the Boy Scouts of America and its policies.”

So much to parse in this statement. "are what they are" (rewording of 'it is what it is'): full on weasel words (meaning no offense to the cute vicious little animals). What this seems to mean is that the spokesperson is claiming there is nothing that can be done about this (which is obviously untrue).

"Not bring into my own personal feelings": this looks like a way for the spokesperson to try to explain he's not personally a big huge bigot, he's merely the spokesperson for a bigoted organization - please don't blame him personally. My personal advice - quit the organization or start being an unapologetic bigot.

"All I am trying to do is maintain the quality and integrity of the Boy Scouts of America and it's policies": um, yeah, I don't think the word 'integrity' is the one you want to be using here... The word integrity has nothing to do with the policy.

If the Boy Scouts of America is going to continue to have its institutionalized prejudice and bigotry it really needs to hire spokespeople that can offer unapologetic defenses... This sort of spokesperson isn't doing a good job justifying bigotry (I don't know how exactly one would do that, but this certainly isn't how).
posted by el io at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


If money is your motivation to do the right thing, you are not doing the right thing.

I heartily concur. But this for the BSA has never been about doing the right thing. Which breaks my goddamn heart (especially for my son, who would own scouting), but still.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the pack has referred to a 'don't ask don't tell' policy on its website. From my understanding the Boy Scouts don't have a don't ask don't tell policy (which was an awful awful thing when done in the military - it was a compromise that hurt gay military folks more than the previous zero-tolerance; resulting in more persecutions).

No, the boy scouts has a 'don't be gay' policy, more enlightened troops may have internally transformed this into a 'don't ask don't tell' policy, but that's pretty much bullshit (ie: against the larger organizations stated policies and encouraging folks to stay in the closet).
posted by el io at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2013


Yeah, it occurs to me that a DADT policy in Boy Scouts is even more unfair than in the military. Should a child be forced to lie or make up stories about his two mothers?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:27 AM on January 27, 2013


Should a child be forced to lie or make up stories about his two mothers?

I don't think there's a restriction against scouts whose parents are gay, the scouts themselves can't be gay.

Which might actually be worse, I'm not sure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's a restriction against scouts whose parents are gay, the scouts themselves can't be gay.

But also, the leaders aren't allowed to be gay are they? So one of the the child's fathers could be involved if they didn't speak openly about anything, but then the other father would have to cease to exist as far as the Scouts were concerned. So in practice, the Scouts do have something against kids whose parents are gay.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:43 AM on January 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't know why people even try with Boy Scouts of America anymore. I think that at this point it would make more sense to me if the liberal troops just broke away and either joined up with Girl Scouts to make a non-gender-based Scouts (like the Boy Scouts did in Canada), or make their own Scouts organization. BSA doesn't have control over Scouting, or it wouldn't be so different from the Scouting organizations elsewhere.

Of course, maybe this is because I really didn't like my own experience with Canadian Girl Guides in the 80s/90s. This was before Scouts was open to both boys and girls and Guides was a pretty sexist organization and often didn't let girls do things because they were female. I don't know what's happened to them since Scouts opened up - maybe they've reformed, or they'll probably shrivel up.
posted by jb at 10:50 AM on January 27, 2013


The national (and here, council) leadership sure are making it hard not to feel like I'm bellying up to a segregated lunch counter every den meeting.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:53 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Girl Scouts, ever think of starting something up for boys?
I really hope this idea is being kicked around at GSUSA headquarters. A handful of alternatives get mentioned in every BSA discussion here, but they all* lack the national presence already enjoyed by the Girl Scouts and the BSA. It is so hard to create a sustainable, national volunteer-based organization from scratch.

But imagine if every existing Girl Scout troop in the country were to spin off a new Non-Bigoted Boy Scout troop! You've already got the infrastructure of parents and siblings.

I don't know if the momentum is there yet, but the more states legalize gay marriage the harder it's going to be for the BSA to retain membership with that kind of discrimination.

*4H often comes up and is awesome, but unless my understanding of 4H is way off I don't think it's a 1:1 replacement for scouting.
posted by usonian at 10:58 AM on January 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


What, exactly, does a Cub Scout pack lose if it loses its charter? The right to use trademarked or copyrighted materials? Perhaps Canadian scouting or a similar organizations could let them use their materials, symbols, handbooks, etc.

Could the pack lose identification with a bigoted organization? That's not a loss, that's a win.

Let's just continue to point out the BSA's bigotry, and watch them fade away...
posted by tommyD at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2013


I consider a ban on gay kids the moral equivalent of a ban on black kids or jewish kids, and I judge people who affiliate with the Boy Scouts accordingly, including Eagle Scouts who refuse to return their badges.
posted by andoatnp at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2013 [27 favorites]


The Girl Scouts equivalent couldn't be called the Boy Scouts, and you couldn't call it the Guy Scouts because it would immediately be nicknamed/vandalized as the Gay Scouts. Plus, no matter what they called it, there would still be an implicit assumption that you were in the Boy Scouts if you were straight, and in the "other" Scouts if you were gay.

No, the change has to come in the Boy Scouts organization itself, or that organization has to cease to exist. Separate But Equal is always the former but never the latter, and we as a nation of people need to pick one of two alternatives: drive the Boy Scouts to change their policies, or drive the Boy Scouts to a position of social toxicity, as happened with the KKK et al.

And if you don't think the Boy Scouts organization realizes this, and is responding accordingly, then you might be a bit naive.

former scout who enjoyed it, but who could tell it had issues even back then.
posted by davejay at 11:14 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But imagine if every existing Girl Scout troop in the country were to spin off a new Non-Bigoted Boy Scout troop!

Why not just open the existing troops to boys? The division between girls and boys is part of the problem: it reinforces gender stereotypes and segregation.

But boys might not be willing to join any organization originally for girls, even if they renamed themselves (as they would have to). Sexism is still a real problem, where boys' things are fine for girls but not girls' things for boys.
posted by jb at 11:16 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The scouts were a major formative influence on me and those were some of the happiest times of my youth. But the organization that once focused on universal notions of character, capability, and achievement has now largely become the province of a very particular set of suburban and rural, conservative Christian white people. Scouting these days ends up being largely about turning out the next wave of soldiers in a culture war.

It's disheartening and it's not the boys' fault.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:17 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's really sad, but right now when I think "Boy Scouts of America" I think "those people who get together to be really mean to gay kids."

I sort of hesitate to frame it this way, because it affirms the culture-war mindset that underpins BSA's decision to rework themselves into an organization primarily devoted to being really mean to gay kids. But, whatever: maybe they're right, maybe we are in a culture war... and, well, I'll gladly enlist in the not-mean-to-gay-kids army.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:24 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The division between girls and boys is part of the problem: it reinforces gender stereotypes and segregation.

This is only partly true. There's a fair bit of research that suggests it's really good for girls to be in single-sex environments, because the pervasive sexism of mixed environments has measurable negative effects. (The stuff I've seen is mostly about school, and how girls in all-girls schools are more confident and learn better because they're not being constantly passed over in favor of boys when called on in class, etc.) So there are reasons, in our current society, for the Girl Scouts to stay a single-gender organization.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:30 AM on January 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


Speaking as a gay former boy scout, BSA can fuck right off. Somebody needs to start a better scouting organization and I'm vaguely tempted to see if I can do it myself.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:30 AM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


there would still be an implicit assumption that you were in the Boy Scouts if you were straight, and in the "other" Scouts if you were gay.

Yeah, what needs to happen (and what I think is happening, because in this particular way American society is getting rapidly and radically better), ahem, what needs to happen is for the implicit assumption to switch into something more like "if you're in the Boy Scouts, that means you hate gay kids, and if you're in the 'other' Scouts, that means you don't hate gay kids."

Basically, we've won if people say "... oh." and change the subject and maybe think about not hanging out with you if you tell them your kids are in a BSA-aligned scouting organization.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:31 AM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So there are reasons, in our current society, for the Girl Scouts to stay a single-gender organization.

Yeah, no way would GS have been as enjoyable if they let icky boys in. Also, many of my conservative Jewish and Muslim friends would not have been allowed to come on the overnight/weeklong camping trips and whatnot, which would have sucked, because they didn't get to do a lot of non-religiously affiliated activities otherwise.
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was in the scouts when I was young. I didn't like it. My mother forced me into it, hoping that I would earn an Eagle Scout badge for my college applications. I think she was unaware of the BSA's bigoted policies. I certainly was.

But if I had been gay, I wouldn't have been able to ignore them.

I'm not sending any son of mine into this organization.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:48 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was in Cubs and Scouts, in Canada, in the late 60s and early 70s. I got alot out of it. Especially camping, knots and the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta etc). It was deemed uncool by high-school, and most of us dropped away by Grade 9.

I have trouble imagining today's generation of parents sending their boys to Scouting. Unless they're doing it ironically. Or lurking watchfully at every meeting, staring at the leadership with their gaydar set to full.

Anyway, props to Cub Scout Pack 442 for their stance. My best memories of Cubs and Scouting is DOING STUFF, not cultural indoctrination or "celebrating" yourself as a young "_______". Kids are kids.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:49 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't have my kids be a part of any scouting organization unless it was co-ed, just for starters. Maybe things have changed, but when I was a cub scout in the 80's the manuals were full of images and ideas straight out of Leave it to Beaver, a sort of 1950's themed fantasy world typified by the Romney family. Hating gay people isn't the only thing wrong with Boy Scouts.

Anyway, props to Cub Scout Pack 442 for their stance. My best memories of Cubs and Scouting is DOING STUFF, not cultural indoctrination or "celebrating" yourself as a young "_______". Kids are kids.

But that's always the way it is: you remember what you liked or the things you disliked and not the things you didn't fully understand. I've talked to former members of the Young Pioneers and they remember hikes and singing and camps and games plus pranks/conflict with other "Eastern Bloc" scouts, not being in a revolutionary communist youth organization dedicated to building future cadres.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2013


What, exactly, does a Cub Scout pack lose if it loses its charter?

Access to materials, yes, but it would also lose the economies of scale/network effects that make things like insurance, summer camps, merit badge instruction and a calendar full of well-organized events doable. It would also lose the legitimacy to recruit and fund raise effectively. It might gain legitimacy in some friendly quarters, but I'm guessing it would be a net loss.

That said, I'm at the point where I'd love for there to be a credible alternative. Campfire might be that alternative in some places, but it does not have a national infrastructure. Girl Scouts have an infrastructure but don't show any interest in going coed or even spinning off a parallel organization for boys.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 12:00 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Girl Scouts, ever think of starting something up for boys? Because I hear you're saner and you have great cookies.

Just rebrand to GRRRR! Scouts.

the club for any cub.
posted by ghostbikes at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Girl Scouts equivalent couldn't be called the Boy Scouts, and you couldn't call it the Guy Scouts because it would immediately be nicknamed/vandalized as the Gay Scouts. Plus, no matter what they called it, there would still be an implicit assumption that you were in the Boy Scouts if you were straight, and in the "other" Scouts if you were gay.

Given this is America, you could just call it the Freedom Scouts, or Patriotic Scouts of America or something similar, and you'd have every red-blooded dad demanding his son joined the inclusive scouts. Problem solved.

This comment may contain hamburger.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was a cub scout in the 80's the manuals were full of images and ideas straight out of Leave it to Beaver, a sort of 1950's themed fantasy world typified by the Romney family.

When I was a scout in the early/mid-aughts, the main manuals were big on flora, knots, and rock-climbers. They were very bland. I don't have a copy on my shelf, so I don't know how much I'm forgetting.

But the basic conservatism was still very much there. For instance, you had to affirm belief in a higher power to be promoted past a certain level, if I remember right.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:16 PM on January 27, 2013


Given this is America, you could just call it the Freedom Scouts, or Patriotic Scouts of America or something similar, and you'd have every red-blooded dad demanding his son joined the inclusive scouts.

How about American Heritage Boys? That would be a double hamburger.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2013


Girl Scouts, like all nonprofits, faces considerable challenges in funding as it is. I hope all of you saying they should take up the slack plan on volunteering to help out all these new members.
posted by emjaybee at 12:20 PM on January 27, 2013


At my last Girl Scout troop meeting, my girls worked on a badge requirement about fighting stereotypes and discrimination. Just saying... (Also, it's cookie season, and I'll ship to anywhere in the US.)

My last assistant leader used to bring her son, a Boy Scout, to meetings. I hope the experience was good for him.
posted by Ruki at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


zippy: "Dear Girl Scouts, ever think of starting something up for boys? Because I hear you're saner and you have great cookies."

I had the same thought. I have a 7-yr-old daughter in the Girl Scouts (Daisies) and we're in the throes of the cookie sale and it's really fun! I will not let my son anywhere near the Boy Scouts organization for a variety of reasons too numerous for this post.
posted by Mister_A at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2013


I just want some goddamn thin mints.
posted by elizardbits at 1:01 PM on January 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, no way would GS have been as enjoyable if they let icky boys in.

Whereas I hated being trapped in an all-girl environment and having our activities severely limited because we were female.
posted by jb at 1:06 PM on January 27, 2013


I was in Cubs and Scouts, in Canada, in the late 60s and early 70s. I got alot out of it. Especially camping, knots and the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta etc).

Canadian Girl Guides didn't do any of these things, at least not my troop. No wilderness camping, no survival skills, not even the phonetic alphabet.

Man, I wish I could have joined Scouts.
posted by jb at 1:08 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever it comes up, I tell people "Yup, I was an Eagle Scout, just like Charles Joseph Whitman the UT Austin bell tower sniper."

I do worry just a bit about what the increasingly self-selecting membership of the current BSA is going to end up like.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:22 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm an Eagle Scout, and I support equality in the BSA for LGBTQ and atheist scouts and volunteers. If you're looking for a way to fight this, please consider supporting Scouts for Equality.
posted by Shoggoth at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whereas I hated being trapped in an all-girl environment and having our activities severely limited because we were female.

To the latter part of your statement: your troop leader was doing it wrong.

I have a Girl Scout handbook from 1947.

In it are chapters such as...

-First Aid
-Hiking
-Mapping
-Signaling
-Fire Building
-Useful Knots
-Bicycling
-Sports equipment and clothes
-Architecture
-Home repair
-Understanding democracy, the Bill of Rights, and the United Nations
-How to use a hand ax

Not once in the book is there a mention of "women's work" or something patronizing like, "just like the boys!" Everything is written from a perspective of, "look, you want to be a well-rounded citizen of the world? Want to survive both in civilization and out in the wild? Here are some things you should know." Even back in 1947.

When I was a scout, back in the 90s, early 00s, we went camping and canoeing and kayaking and made things and sold them and earned ourselves enough money and wherewithal to go backpacking in Switzerland for 3 weeks.

These days we push STEM, financial literacy, and making a positive impact on the world around you.

Anyway, what I'm getting at, is that if you ever got the impression that your troop couldn't do certain things because you're girls, that is not and has never been the message of the Girl Scouts. That's a shitty troop leader. And I'm sorry.
posted by phunniemee at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2013 [30 favorites]


On lack of preview, I see you were in Canada. I have no idea how Canada's scouting system works.
posted by phunniemee at 1:26 PM on January 27, 2013


How about something like 'Wilderness Scouts' or 'Wilderness Boys' for the new non-bigoted replacements?

(and yeah: if one of you GS cookie-sellers will memail me, I'd appreciate it....)
posted by easily confused at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2013


Where were all you cookie wanters 3 months ago. My daughter could have made a killing off you guys. Hit me up in sept, I'm the "Cookie Dad" so I can get them early
posted by ShawnString at 1:55 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Canadian Girl Guides didn't do any of these things, at least not my troop. No wilderness camping, no survival skills, not even the phonetic alphabet.

They did in Ontario in the 70s. I know this because as a cub scout I once cornered an item on the scavenger hunt ( a female) for my six during a camping weekend at Rattlesnake Point by having an entire Girl Scout troop camping at the other end of the campsite report as our item for the scavenger hunt. Our leaders proceeded to get roaring drunk that night and pass out in their collapsed tents (how did that happen? I can't say but I did still have their tent pegs as mementos somewhere in my parents' basement up until last year) giving us the chance to independtly make our breakfasts - cookies and melting ice cream for everyone and then perform a Lord of the Flies remake called the Kaibo Kids involving outhouses, rope and rocks for splash value. I have no clue if anybody, leader or kid, was gay. What I do know is that we were all mean evil little brats. Then Scouts came around and the leadership got serious about teaching life skills and I quit so I could go BMXing instead.

The boy scouts of america sounds like its leadership is made up of the antagonists from a Twisted Sister video.
posted by srboisvert at 1:58 PM on January 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can you confirm or deny the rumoured existence of vegan thin mints for sale? I HAVE HEARD WHISPERINGS. But the only stuff online is how to make them yourself, which is just beyond worthless to me.
posted by elizardbits at 1:59 PM on January 27, 2013


Got the name for the spin off outfit.

The American Outdoorsman.

Ought to PO the NRA (The American Rifleman) at the very least.

And as a side track. When I joined the NRA at the Marine Corps' expense 58 years ago the NRA's
American Rifleman magazine was all about hunting and outdoor living. There was nothing about the second amendment and all this self defense crap. Adds in their magazine were for hunting rifles and shotguns. It all changed in the seventies when he NRA threw out the old board members and allied themselves with the gun industry. Since then it has been macho weapon ads for guys with tiny d*****.
Sorry for the off target rant.
posted by notreally at 2:01 PM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


To the latter part of your statement: your troop leader was doing it wrong.

Yeah, the thing about GS is that if your troop leaders were shitty then you had a shitty time. If your troop leaders were awesome, you had an awesome time. And if your troop leaders were former IDF soldiers and first generation Eastern European immigrants then you learned macrame and stick fighting and woodcraft and macaroni art and knot tying and how to make a fire with the sheer force of your willpower.

so basically it was like a hippie zionist young pioneers, except with cookie-based captialism
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on January 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


The vegan thin mints DO exist, but under the purview of ABC Bakers. My council uses Little Brownie. I have no idea what councils use ABC, but the easy way to find out is nomenclature: if it's called a samoa, your bakery is Little Brownie. If it's called a caramel de-lite, your bakery is ABC.
posted by phunniemee at 2:02 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lol. I know. Its taken.
posted by notreally at 2:02 PM on January 27, 2013


ennui.bz: But that's always the way it is: you remember what you liked or the things you disliked and not the things you didn't fully understand. I've talked to former members of the Young Pioneers and they remember hikes and singing and camps and games plus pranks/conflict with other "Eastern Bloc" scouts, not being in a revolutionary communist youth organization dedicated to building future cadres.

Not so. I would know now if there was indoctrination. I even leafed through the old scouting manual a few years ago. There was imagery consistent with the period, but I didn't find any nuggets of thought control, beyond obeying your leaders and respecting your elders etc. it wasn't the Young Pioneers.

I wouldn't have my kids be a part of any scouting organization unless it was co-ed, just for starters.

Now THAT'S indoctrination... You don't have to abandon the concept of full gender equality to also acknowledge that in certain age groups, boys and girls are developing emotionally at different rates and that a boys only/girls only group can be healthy. Also, taking a co-ed group of 7 to 10 year-olds camping could be logistics hell.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2013


Just chiming in to say that Girl Scouts and Campfire have also managed to be inclusive of participants who are non-theist and the world hasn't ended. BSA, not so much.

BSA can keep digging that hole deeper as much as they like, but the world above them has moved on and will never turn back. Is there any way to show support for Pack 442 and other troops that are trying to change BSA from within?
posted by Skwirl at 2:23 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


elizardbits, I have the vegan Thin Mints! Memail me!
posted by Ruki at 2:26 PM on January 27, 2013


Many of the regional councils are explicitly very supportive of GLBT members. The regional councils have the real power in the organization; they charter troops, own the facilities, and pay the (extremely expensive) liability insurance bills. If I had a son, I'd probably be ok with him being a scout under the auspices of one of the nondiscriminatory councils.
posted by miyabo at 2:30 PM on January 27, 2013


I just looked at my daughter's thin mints - there's nothing overtly non-vegan in there. It doesn't say 'vegan' on the box but unless 'natural and artificial flavor' is code for pork belly or something, I think these are vegan, fattening, and delicious.
posted by Mister_A at 2:37 PM on January 27, 2013


So there's another angle here, which is that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is affiliated with the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and according to the WOSM, every country only gets one WOSM-affiliated scouting organization. Which currently leaves the Girl Scouts out in the cold. Also left out in the cold? Any new organization that wanted to do "scouting" would be ineligible to attend the world jamboree or to use the phrase "scouting" [1] or be affiliated with the scouting organizations in other countries.

The other countries' scouting organizations, except for one or two I can't remember right now, are also open to both boys and girls, and the Netherlands even has an explicit thing saying atheists are okay. The BSA is, among western nations, by far the most reactionary affiliate. A little pressure from the WOSM might go a long way to either making the BSA more accepting, or getting the BSA to disassociate from the WOSM and thereby allowing a different organization dedicated to guiding young people to get better at camping, leadership, and not being a jerk to join up in its place.

There's pretty much no way a new US group is going to get any traction without the BSA screwing up internationally as well as nationally, so let's help the WOSM ask whether or not the BSA is the kind of organization they want to be associated with. After all, they've had some serious problems with the scouting-like organizations associated with communist dictatorships, so maybe they'll also have a problem with "boys-only", "no atheists", and/or "hate the gays". If they do, then the current "don't offend the Mormons"[2] leadership will have to choose between staying with the WOSM or ceasing to let the policies of the Mormon church leadership determine what is acceptable for all boy scouts nationally.

[1] Girl Scouts in the US are grandfathered in and can use the word "scouting", but remain separate from the BSA and are affiliated with a different international organization that is girls-oriented worldwide. Therefore, getting guys into the girl-scouts would require them to affiliate with an entirely different (and possibly nonexistent) international organization.

[2] It is an open secret that a large percentage (30%ish last I checked) of boy scouts in the US are Mormon, and that the Mormon church leadership council will cease to approve of scouting for its youth if the BSA compromises on the "atheists" or "gays" issues, and thus the BSA could potentially lose a third of its members overnight by pissing off the leadership of the Mormon Church. The fact that they will eventually lose more than that over time by affiliating themselves with culture war bullshit seems to be lost upon them, as is the idea that excluding people is counter to the ideals that scouting supposedly stands for. Even worse, as the people who are turned off by bigotry leave, the organization grows ever-more reactionary, leading to a vicious cycle that may be circling the drain too much to stop at this point. However, as an atheist Eagle Scout with lots of gay friends, I certainly hope that scouting in the US can be saved in some form or another. It was really nice to go camping once a month, every month, with a bunch of young people for all my teenage years. It would have been nice if girls and moms could have come on the trips too, though.

posted by pmb at 2:45 PM on January 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


vegan thin mints are made with real vegans
posted by elizardbits at 2:52 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Soylent Green is - ohnevermind
posted by Artful Codger at 2:58 PM on January 27, 2013


This is only partly true. There's a fair bit of research that suggests it's really good for girls to be in single-sex environments, because the pervasive sexism of mixed environments has measurable negative effects.

But isn't the way to combat this by allowing boys and girls to have the opportunity to grow up and experience things together under the leadership of both men and women who exemplify the ideals of equality we want them to grow up with.

As to losing the affiliation with the larger organization/network, I agree that's a downside, but I would think that even smaller local groups that taught kids the same skills and ideals would be better than nothing.

I was a scout as a kid, and it was awesome right up until we moved and the new troop I joined had a shitty,sadistic, ex-military scoutmaster, and I quit after a few weeks. In the end whatever good I got out of it had way more to do with the week to week activities of the local troop than the larger organization.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:59 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Daisies kicked my daughter out because she was ADD. Just saying, tolerance isn't just about sexual orientation.
posted by Mojojojo at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2013


The Daisies kicked my daughter out because she was ADD.

That shouldn't have happened. Call your local council and let them know. They'll either figure something out or find your daughter a new troop.
posted by phunniemee at 3:15 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


That shouldn't have happened. Call your local council and let them know. They'll either figure something out or find your daughter a new troop.

True. Even if she was being disruptive they should have worked with you to help find a solution. That said, I've seen situations where the solution is for the parent to attend all meetings. Not all parents are willing to do that.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 3:24 PM on January 27, 2013


I consider a ban on gay kids the moral equivalent of a ban on black kids or jewish kids, and I judge people who affiliate with the Boy Scouts accordingly, including Eagle Scouts who refuse to return their badges.

I probably should, but I need to find it first. I lost track of that stuff over 20 years ago, and I can't remember if that's one of the things my parents threaten to mail to my doorstep every other year, or if they already did so and I dumped the box at a thrift store.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:39 PM on January 27, 2013


//The Daisies kicked my daughter out because she was ADD.//

My son's Cub Scout troop had an ADD kid that made me want to take him out of Cub Scouts, just to avoid the hell that was meetings with that kid out of control. But at no time did we ever consider kicking the kid out. We worked around his challenges the best we could.

My son got bored early in Boy Scouts and when sports and Boy Scouts started to conflict he chose sports. I was totally ok with that.
posted by COD at 3:50 PM on January 27, 2013


The Daisies kicked my daughter out because she was ADD.

That shouldn't have happened. Call your local council and let them know. They'll either figure something out or find your daughter a new troop.

happened almost 15 years ago... and we (her mom) weren't encouraged to attend the meetings. my daughter was also kicked out of OM even though the ideas that they won their tourney were her's. She is full of ideas and energy and one of the funniest and fun people I know. I speak as her dad, of course. But, most people agree with me.
posted by Mojojojo at 4:00 PM on January 27, 2013


The Daisies kicked my daughter out because she was ADD.

Yeah, this totally shouldn't have happened. I would talk to your Council for sure. One of the good/bad things about GSUSA is that the troops are all separate, which means that troop leaders (read: parents) are often essentially learning on their own, if there isn't a previous volunteer or leader willing to take them on. (Honestly, this is especially a problem with brand new troops or with all Daisy troops, because the parents are generally ALL new at scouts.)

As to the Boy Scouts: man, what a crummy thing the leadership is doing. I know someone heavily involved in recruiting in that council, and this person is not at all homophobic or a fan of their policies. He sees scouting as a fantastic way to involve kids at all economic levels get to experience the outdoors, life skills, and various crafts. There are a lot of kids from, say, Ward 8, who wouldn't necessarily have the chance to go hiking or camping out in Great Falls, and Boy Scouts is one of the few options. (There is financial aid of some sort, though I don't know if it's informal and local or supported by the council at large.) Boy Scouts was a huge part of his past growing up, and a large part of his adult life. At the same time, this is just getting more and more of an issue.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:07 PM on January 27, 2013


Alternative Scouting Organizations via the Unitarian Universalist Association. Another list of "scout-like" organizations, some of them actually more conservative than the BSA or GSA.

Scouting For All, alas, seems to have had no updates since 2008.
posted by dhartung at 4:29 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never know what I should say to the Boy Scouts selling homemade fudge in my local T stop. Usually I don't say anything, of course, but they will buttonhole people with their plates of free samples, so I have to avoid them actively. I wish I could let them know why I'm not interested in buying without seeming cruel.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:35 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is wrong with people? I don't even.
posted by newdaddy at 4:36 PM on January 27, 2013


When I was a Boy Scout Explorer, in the late nineties, my post openly welcomed "The Three G's: Godless, Girls, and Gays". We were free to interpret the "be moral" clause as being moral, rather than assuming that meant anything to do with being gay (or I wouldn't have signed it). I'm disappointed that the leadership can't seem to catch up.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:07 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Parks and Recreation was all over this.
posted by bardic at 6:29 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Homemade fudge? Those scouts had some better leadership than the local troop(s) around here. The poor boys stand out in front of grocery stores, trying to sell giant tubs of popcorn.

See, inside of the grocery store, you can also find popcorn, but it's better, because 1) it comes in a smaller container, 2) it's unpopped and won't be stale by the time you open the container, and 3) you can probably find a popcorn selling company that isn't as homophobic as the BSA.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2013


Make the eponymous jokes all you like, but I've taken to telling BSA troops who hit me up for popcorn or whateverthehell that I don't support organizations that discriminate. Plainly, nicely, with a half-sad smile on my face. And mostly they just look puzzled...so have fun explaining, troop leaders!

So not cool. I got thrown OUT of Girl Scouts and I still like *them*!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:51 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The solution is simple. Change the policy to: "Pack 442 WILL NOT discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, or ability. In compliance with Boy Scouts of America policy, Pack 442 MUST discriminate against individuals and families based on sexual orientation."
posted by BentFranklin at 8:20 PM on January 27, 2013


dhartung, thanks for that list. On it I found the American Heritage Girls, who are partnered with the BSA, and whose oath and promise are worth reading beside the official Girl Scout promise and law.
posted by brina at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2013


...For instance, you had to affirm belief in a higher power to be promoted past a certain level, if I remember right. - posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:16 PM on January 27

Yeah, that's why they wouldn't let ME be a Boy Scout, over 40 years ago. I felt excluded and left out, and I still wonder what I missed out on.

On the other hand, that experience helped make me more sympathetic to others who have also been subjected to bigotry and discrimination. (AND given me a lifelong dislike for the BSA.)

So there's that.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:37 PM on January 27, 2013


you had to affirm belief in a higher power

Non-thiestic Buddhists and the like are alright, but I understand what you're getting at.

Some googling turns up the following in a .pdf from my local council: "The council does not discriminate or limit participation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, age and/or sexual orientation other than enforcing applicable age and gender requirements for participation in the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Venturing and Exploring programs."

This document is not linked anywhere on the council website. I've inquired as to the official policy.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:56 PM on January 27, 2013


Buddhism and Hinduism would seem to violate the Boy Scout oath and it would be interesting to learn how this works out from anyone's first hand experience. This blog post has a comment on it that seems to explain that a more theistic flavor of Buddhists are behind the Buddhism badges.

In any event, illogically including some groups (semitheists and polytheists) but not others (agnostics and atheists) just highlights the hypocrisy inherent in BSA's leadership. Clearly they're not interested in preserving some kind of inherent tradition. It's culture war, plain and simple and that's really sad. When you look at the totality of the values in Scouting, inclusiveness and generosity should be more important than this petty stuff.
posted by Skwirl at 10:46 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is clear, the BSA does not embrace true American values. Simple as that, plain as day. Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

Let's boot them off our military bases and cease all manner of public support. As flag-wavers, they are especially dangerous because they take on false color. They are not an organization of upstanding morality. They are immoral. Without change, they deserve only our disdain.
posted by Goofyy at 12:54 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


This makes me so sad, not so much because I miss the regular Scouts (I loved Cub Scouts and Webelos, but "regular" Scouting was a bit too Lord-of-the-Flies for me, because of bad leadership in my troop), but because the later experience I had in Scouting was so formative for me.

I can be fairly described as nerd-adjacent in that I love nerdly things, but am not smart enough to have ever proceeded into a nerdly career field. I was able to hang in with the math team by cheating, and was able to hang with the computer nerds in being several steps past digital illiteracy and possessed of an ability to speak with authority and the illusion of deep knowledge on subjects that are really beyond me, and when my high school non-sexual man-crush, a demented Lithuanian with issues and the ability to bang out an English Suite #2 like you wouldn't believe, suggested I come to his Explorer Post meeting, I went along for the ride.

Explorer Post 1275, based at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was just about paradise for the nerd, nerd-adjacent, or flier of a freak flag, and as I embodied the latter two characteristics, I felt instantly at home even though I often ended up as sort of an amusing or enraging (depending on who was making the assessment) team mascot. I edited the Post newsletter for a long stretch, caused the traumatic marshmallow disaster of '83, got us all in trouble in Philadelphia by ringing the Liberty Bell, and otherwise was awkwardly content in a way that had been alien to me my whole life.

We were amazing, too. Our Post was the main coordinator for Project POSTAR, which put a set of experiments on board the Shuttle (albeit after a long delay, triggered by the Challenger disaster). I was worthless on that project, except in the process of cleaning and oiling things, but I felt and feel like I had a sense of pride in ownership nonetheless. We were based in the sprawling campus of NASA's giant facility for unmanned projects, and I got hands-on time with monstrous VAX-11 computers that sat in air conditioned rooms and communicated with enormous vector terminals (on which I played Colossal Cave, but still). We were able to visit the spectacular test facilities where giant machines bashed satellites half to death to ensure they'd survive their trips, and, in that pre-security panic era, had a bit of free range to just explore.

Our Post was co-ed, covering the range of pimply teens with scraggly desperate mustaches to the leaders, which included white-shirt NASA long-timers who'd been there for some of our most amazing scientific breakthroughs. Many of the kids went on to bigger and better things, in NASA and elsewhere, and a number of them graduated into leadership. It was a glorious, dorky wonderland. One of my favorite fellow Posticians, a gangly hippie prone to wearing robes and other fanciful regalia, Andy Looney, went on to start a successful game company. It was a time and a place that had a lot to offer to people who were otherwise marginalized, and I felt at home there.

The Post disbanded this year with the retirement of our sponsor at NASA GSFC, and I went to the last round-up picnic feeling a bit glum. I'd been out of touch for decades, not sure if I'd even be remembered there, and made a bit blue by the fact that if I wanted to be involved with something like that today, as an adult who wanted to share the great things I got from my time in Explorers, I would not be allowed to do so because of who I am, even if I toned down my agnosticism and just played along. It was good to see old friends, and good to make a few new ones, who'd come along after my time, and still, I wonder if we'll ever see a day when something great could be great again.

In most things, I'm an optimist, but I really don't see a way that the BSA is ever going to do anything but become more of an arm of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, existing to promote their virtues, values, and prejudices, and that's a loss for a culture. For myself, I take that as a call to action, to make myself available as a mentor in the smaller settings where I can make a difference, offering up my outdoors skills and virtues of self-reliance and ingenuity where I can, but it shouldn't be this way.
posted by sonascope at 7:31 AM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sadly, the pack caved in to the BSA.

I am often at odds with my husband's bestie about the BSA. He's a Scout Leader, his son is heavily involved in Scouting, and he always gets very upset with me when I won't attend any of his son's Scout activities or support his fundraising activities. He tells me that their troop doesn't discriminate, and I tell him that as long as their troop sends money to the national organization, they're complicit in the BSA's discriminatory policies and I won't support them.

He has a very hard time wrapping his head around that.
posted by MissySedai at 10:00 AM on January 28, 2013


He has a very hard time wrapping his head around that.

To be fair, it is really, really hard to be in this position.

I volunteered for the Red Cross for years, and one small part of the many, many things the Red Cross does is sponsor blood drives. So here I was, working mostly toward finding money and volunteers for disaster response services, tabling at a blood drive event every once in a while.

I, personally, was on the receiving end of a lot of bile and vitriol from people who were upset at how discriminatory the Red Cross' blood acceptance regulations are. Even though it wasn't me, it wasn't my little club of Red Cross volunteers, nor was it even the American Red Cross putting those restrictions in place. (It's the FDA, and there are ARC representatives actively working to lift the ban on gay men.)

Anyway, my point is, you can choose not to support the local troop--and that is completely fine--and you can tell them why. But ultimately it does nothing. The best way you can show your disapproval for the organization's rules is to write a letter to the organization that makes the rules explaining that you'd love to contribute, but do not feel right doing so because of [reasons].

But stopping your explanation for why you're not supporting them at the troop level is going to do nothing at best, and lead to hurt feelings at worst.
posted by phunniemee at 10:22 AM on January 28, 2013


NBC News: Boy Scouts Close To Ending Ban On Gay Members, Leaders.
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


NBC News: Boy Scouts Close To Ending Ban On Gay Members, Leaders.

Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please...
posted by phunniemee at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2013


Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please...

Seconded.
posted by ambrosia at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2013


This is so interesting; I wonder if it's true, and if it IS true, why the Pack 442 thing was such a big deal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2013


NBC News: Boy Scouts Close To Ending Ban On Gay Members, Leaders.

Wasn't that the buzz last year, only for them to reaffirm that yes, they are anti-gay?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


That NBC news article is so very, very hazy.
The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.
Ooh, "actively considering" in "internal discussions"? Fantastic!
“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.
Deron Smith, you mush-mouthed fellow, why won't you say anything clearly? Oh, because BSA is still beholden to powerful/rich homophobes? Why didn't you just say that in the first place? It's much less wordy.
Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.
Let me guess, certain areas of the US will be surprisingly devoid of local units who are supportive of "the needs" of that sort of family and/or scout. But that's OK, because you and your family can just move somewhere that there is a unit more to their liking. Try heading towards the coasts.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, it is really, really hard to be in this position.

I wish I could sympathize with him, but I really, really can't. Not even a little. I mean, he'd have every right to be upset with me if I were doing what people did to you when you volunteered with the Red Cross or if I were egging his house or calling him an asshole or whatever.

The thing is, I don't. I simply say "I'm sorry, I really cannot in good conscience support that organization in any way." And I have explained why, in detail, kindly and multiple times. His kid seems to understand it better than he does. (Pretty sure kiddo participates because it makes his old man happy.)

I've written the letters, and I've explained until I'm blue in the face, and frankly, I'm pretty offended that he keeps after me about it, insisting that I should make an exception. Especially since one of my sons would not be admitted to the Scouts because of his orientation, and he knows it! I'm not going to slap my own kid in the face just to mollify my husband's friend. (Wouldn't do it for my own friends, either.)

Wasn't that the buzz last year, only for them to reaffirm that yes, they are anti-gay?

Yeah, I'd like to get excited about it, but I am dubious. I'll believe it when it actually happens.
posted by MissySedai at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2013


Yeah, it's right there in that statement that they're concerned about the groups that will withdraw support and funding if they change their stance on TEH GAYZ. And it's easy to see why; those groups are traditionally the most offensively vocal and nasty about their oppressive ways.
posted by elizardbits at 11:32 AM on January 28, 2013


But that's OK, because you and your family can just move somewhere that there is a unit more to their liking.

Yeah, I mean, why not just come right out and say "separate but equal"?
posted by elizardbits at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also from that article:
Only seven months ago, the Boy Scouts affirmed a policy of banning gay members, after a nearly two-year examination of the issue by a committee of volunteers convened by national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, known as the BSA.

In a statement last July affirming the ban, its national executive board called it “the best policy for the organization.”
They spent two years trying to figure this out? Any buzz from last year was false hope at best.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2013


Hey all, instead of visualizing a world where a separate scouting organization is created to allow gay friendly and gay folks, what if we visualize the opposite...

Where the bigots lose and have to create their own bigot-scouting organization...

(hey, one can dream, can't one?).
posted by el io at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2013


Yeah, it's right there in that statement that they're concerned about the groups that will withdraw support and funding if they change their stance on TEH GAYZ.

I think the economic tide is turning, with no lack of organizations with deep charitypromotional pockets who would be willing to throw their cash at the BSA if the BSA didn't violate their own non-discrimination policies.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs

I'm surprised it took the BSA this long to figure out this dodge- they get to say they're open and the heat falls on the sponsoring groups instead.


Gonna be a lot of Lone Scouts in Utah, I guess....
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 12:53 PM on January 28, 2013


"Scouting, with its three-fingered salute and oath of honorable conduct, has for generations of boys and leaders held itself out as a place of high moral conduct and quasi-military upright bearing. Outdoor skills and experience were bound up, the organization preached, with the values of character. But revelations about sexual abuse by scout leaders, which have increasingly emerged in recent years with some victims and parents saying the organization shielded predators and tarnished the group’s reputation as always protective of youth.

The ban on gay leaders created a kind of crosswind of criticism: Would removing the ban alienate tradition-minded families who might fear gay leaders and see them as potential abusers or boys? Or would lifting the ban attract a new generation of scouts whose families no longer feared gay leaders?

Meanwhile, a pressure for change was coming from within. A California chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, Reuters reported on Monday, is directly challenging the ban on gays by formally recommending that an openly gay former scout be awarded the top rank of Eagle." *
posted by ericb at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2013


Scouts. That's what the name of new better-than-BSA scouting organization should be. I see no reason to include any gender tag whatsoever. Maybe the Girl Scouts should run it, because they're sane, and maybe there should be some gender-segregated events, based on it being better for girls in our current patriarchal society to have girl-only environments.

But the name? Scouts.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the NBC article: The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters. If approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the BSA's national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting.

Anyone have contact information for these folks? Google is being unhelpful. Or I'm not doing it right.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 2:09 PM on January 28, 2013


I consider a ban on gay kids the moral equivalent of a ban on black kids or jewish kids, and I judge people who affiliate with the Boy Scouts accordingly, including Eagle Scouts who refuse to return their badges.

I wholeheartedly agree with the first part of this and saddened by the second part. I earned my Eagle Scout badge back in 1976 and; if I knew where they were, I wouldn't return my badges. I respect those who've chosen to return their awards and I have no problem with that.

I know many other Eagle scouts who are writing letters, joining organizations like Scouts for Equality (mentioned above) and working within the organization to make a change. I think these actions are every bit as meaningful as sending your badges back. Is a war vet implicitly supporting war because he doesn't return his Purple Heart? Are you a climate change denier because you filled up your gas tank?

When I was a scout, I learned a lot about respect for nature, tolerance of others and their opinions and I made a lot of good friends who I still have today. I understand the angry backlash over this but please don't paint those of us who keep our medals as gay-haters, or take it out on the local scout troop trying to raise money to go to Philmont or the Boundary Waters.

I hate the direction the BSA has taken. I'm not supporting the organization's anti-gay policy by not returning my awards. I don't feel they deserve them.
posted by jabo at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'll believe a policy change when it's announced, given that we went through this song and dance of the BSA "reconsidering" the policy last year.

The announced "reconsideration" strikes me as smoke and mirrors. They punt to chartered organizations, but still control those charters. They take a step back from one flavor of religious bigotry, while affirming another. I suppose I should feel grateful that I'm now "not an appropriate role model" on only one dimension now.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2013


Scouts. That's what the name of new better-than-BSA scouting organization should be. I see no reason to include any gender tag whatsoever.

That's how it works in many other countries. I think the US may actually be the outlier, if you break it down by countries rather than by membership, in having completely separate organizations for what's basically the same thing for girls vs boys.*

And aside from just being not-in-a-good-way-retro, it strikes me as pretty wasteful. Why should the BSA and GSA have completely different and duplicative fund-raising organizations? Why separate administrative arms? Most of the uniform and badge creation is farmed out to the same companies that do both anyway. Even if the middle through high-school organizations were kept separate at the local level and did separate activities (because there is some value in that, readily admitted), there's a lot of resource pooling that could happen, which seems like it would be good for the actual kids involved. (Though I'd imagine the Girl Scouts leadership wouldn't be remotely interested at present, for good reason.)

I think it's also interesting to note that on the UK Scouts and Australian Scouts pages, there's a lot of high-profile corporate sponsorship of the type that you don't see in the US. And while I'm sure that corporate money can be a double-edged sword in some situations, none of the companies seem especially offensive (The Adventure Company, B&Q, Coleman, etc.). And I'm sure they'd be happy enough to sponsor a US Scouting organization that was built around inclusion. I find it hard to imagine that corporate America's marketing departments couldn't cough up more than the Mormons, given the chance.

A "big tent" Scouting organization without the creepy religiosity or sexual-orientation intolerance would be something that a whole lot of people and institutions could get behind.

* Although in some countries, notably Germany with its 150+ Scouting organizations, the Scouting landscape is fragmented along all sorts of lines, particularly religious ones.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:59 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


After years of heartache, gay Scouts and supporters react warily over proposal to lift ban.
posted by ericb at 7:56 PM on January 28, 2013


An all girl environment for Girl Scouts is a must. Adults often reinforce gender discrimination without realizing it - calling on boys more often, etc.
posted by agregoli at 7:17 AM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bryan Fischer: Boy Scouts' Gay Policy Debate Is A 'Suicide Mission,' Compares Gays To Pedophiles (w/ video).
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2013


Boy Scouts' Gay Policy Debate Angers Religious Right, Conservative Pundits.
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on January 29, 2013


I probably shouldn't even respond to a homophobic bigot like Fischer, but one of his tweets says that a gay man shouldn't be in a tent with young boys, just like a straight man shouldn't be with girls -- so what he's saying is that straight women also should not be Scout leaders, but lesbians are hunky dory.
posted by jb at 1:48 PM on January 29, 2013


just like a straight man shouldn't be with girls

My first Brownie troop leader was the dad of one of the other girls. Somehow he managed to get us all through three years of scouting without diddling any of us. It's like, I don't know, maybe there's some factor other than sexual orientation at play when it comes to whether or not a grown person is going to be inappropriate towards a young person.
posted by phunniemee at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Boy Scouts Taking Phone Calls, Email Feedback on Gay Ban.
posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on January 29, 2013


Takei stand!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:13 AM on January 30, 2013


'BATTLESTATIONS!': Call-in war waged over Boy Scouts' ban on gays.
posted by ericb at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2013


'Gravely distressed': Religion looms large over Boy Scouts decision on gays.
posted by ericb at 8:28 AM on February 4, 2013


Obama Super Bowl Interview Addresses Boy Scouts' Anti-Gay Policy (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2013


Rick Santorum says allowing gay scouts and leaders into the organization will destroy it.
posted by ericb at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2013


Today, the Family Research Council and other hate groups took out a full-page ad [PDF] in USA Today urging the BSA to retain its anti-gay policies.
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2013


A full page ad in USA Today. That makes me nauseous - that people would place such an ad, and that USA Today would accept such an ad. Jesus. I'm speechless.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2013


and that USA Today would accept such an ad

As they clearly have no submission policies regarding human decency or offending material, I think it's about time I published a full page ad consisting of a hastily-drawn cartoon of Jesus and Rick Santorum fighting each other Jedi-style with comically oversized dildos while eating poop. Because why not.
posted by phunniemee at 11:23 AM on February 4, 2013


From the ad: As the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) confirmed as recently as last July, “the vast majority of the parents” of Boy Scouts reserve to themselves the right to introduce and give guidance on sexual topics.

The existence of homosexuals is no more an attempt to teach kids about sexual topics than is the existence of heterosexuals.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


CNN's Carol Costello Takes on FRC Leader's Boy Scout Bullshit.
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2013


As they clearly have no submission policies regarding human decency or offending material, I think it's about time I published a full page ad consisting of a hastily-drawn cartoon of Jesus and Rick Santorum fighting each other Jedi-style with comically oversized dildos while eating poop. Because why not.

I do not doubt that there is an amount of money that would cause the USA Today editorial board to not only accept this ad, but to do so while smiling and shaking your hand and then invite you to a nice round of golf, or if you preferred, giant dildo Jedi fighting.

I mean, that newspaper is mainly a giveaway dumb thing they charge you 50c for until you tell them not to at chain hotels as far as I can tell; they've got to be one step up from the Clamato guy in terms of doubting their own business model at this point.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:16 PM on February 4, 2013


Will the BSA have a jamboree to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of that loophole in civil rights law that they seem to consider to be just as important as their oath and law?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:25 PM on February 4, 2013


Boy Scouts: We need more time for decision on gay membership.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on February 6, 2013


An end to the national ban on gays, which the United States Supreme Court said in 2000 was legal free speech by a private organization, would create a huge new moment of risk, experimentation and change by people on both sides of the issue said. The proposal floated last week would allow local scouting councils to decide membership rules for themselves.

The proposed change create multiple fracture lines. Some supporters of the ban said they feared a wave of departures by conservative church-sponsored troops, while supporters of the change said that scouting, with fewer boys every year donning the forest green uniform to work for merit badges, would be revitalized. Scout leaders who favored a complete about-face on gays — prohibiting discrimination everywhere in the organization — said the compromise position by the Executive Board would still leave scouting open to charges of homophobia by its critics, since discrimination on the basis of gender orientation would still be allowed locally.

Other Scout leaders and parents said a fracture between conservative scout councils and liberal ones could create walls — troops still banning gays disdaining gay-led troops, and vice versa — or could open the door to a new dialogue about difference and diversity.

The debate over the issue, according to scout leaders and parents, was shaped by two great historic forces that have defined scouting for decades: The huge role played by churches in sponsoring scout troops, and the tradition of local control that scout chapters, or councils, have had in shaping the flavor of scouting, which can differ greatly from urban downtowns to rural farm country, and from roughing-it-in-the-woods to environmental cleanup on the beach.

Maintaining local control became a crossroads of the debate. Although many of the church sponsors — almost 70 percent of local scout units are backed by a religious-based group — are culturally conservative, and might in some cases be opposed to open acceptance of gays in society, they also hugely cherish the right to make scouting a cultural adjunct of their respective belief systems. In Mormon-led scout troops, a Mormon prayer usually opens and closes a troop’s meeting, while in a Catholic group, it might be the Lord’s Prayer. *
posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on February 6, 2013


The Guardian : The Boy Scouts need to move beyond the gay issue, for their own sake -- "Ending the ban on gay membership doesn't put scouting in jeopardy, it reaffirms the values of a proud tradition.""
posted by ericb at 8:28 AM on February 6, 2013


Bill targeting Boy Scouts' tax exempt status draws criticism.
posted by ericb at 1:38 PM on February 21, 2013


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