BSA for all boys.
May 23, 2013 3:17 PM   Subscribe

By a vote of 61%-38% the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America has finalized a decision to lift sexual orientation from the criteria to discriminate for youth membership. Previously and previously.

The change in policy will not apply to pack leaders or trans youth.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (103 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Half a step forward, but a step forward nonetheless.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:19 PM on May 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


The change in policy will not apply to pack leaders or trans youth.

Christ. Baby steps, I guess?
posted by ORthey at 3:19 PM on May 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


(I should have noted that the title of the post is meant to be ironic, sorry)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:20 PM on May 23, 2013


The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but Christ I wish they would just open their organization and their eyes.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


!
posted by schmod at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2013


Isn't this nearly meaningless since individual scouting groups are still free to exclude anyone they wish?
posted by Gin and Comics at 3:26 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The change in policy will not apply to pack leaders or trans youth.

So, basically, you're welcome to be a gay (cisgendered boy) and be a cub scout, a boy scout, become an Eagle scout - but don't you dare try to help guide the next generation of scouts. That's just unacceptable.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2013 [25 favorites]


Practically, including gay leaders had no chance of passing.
posted by smackfu at 3:28 PM on May 23, 2013


This is still good news.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let me get this fucking straight, because I'm no boy scout. It's fair to say the BSA promotes from within, letting scouts become leaders one day, and this resolution expressly prohibits homosexuals from doing so? On the basis of what? On what basis are gays allowed entry into the BSA but should be excluded from promotion?

I'm no activist, but what a fucking shit show.
posted by phaedon at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more than I was expecting at this point.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't call it meaningless Gin and Comics. Progress isn't complete success, but it still has meaning.
posted by Drumhellz at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good news, good news. But so little, and so late. Boy Scouts gave me a lot of good things, but tolerance was not one of them.
posted by clockbound at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


At some point they'll have to let gay adults in; can you imagine the outrage when an 18-year old Eagle scout is forced to quit rather than be allowed to become an ASM or scoutmaster?
posted by armage at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gay Kid Excited To Be Made Fun Of For Second Thing: Onion
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:32 PM on May 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


I realize that there is a lot more for the BSA to do, but this really was a big step for them, and I'm happy they were able to make it. It's hard for some organizations to make the leap to do the right thing, no matter how obvious it is to the rest of us.
posted by blurker at 3:34 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well done (finally, partly)!
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:35 PM on May 23, 2013


So they are only like 10 years behind the Girl Scouts now? That's an improvement...
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:38 PM on May 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


The change in policy will not apply to pack leaders or trans youth.

Says BSA: "A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place."

Does anybody have further breakdowns of the vote? (ETA, yes, there's a statement, but I'm interested in seeing specific voting results, if that info is made public.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2013


Isn't this nearly meaningless since individual scouting groups are still free to exclude anyone they wish?

Maybe, but what was happening more often, I think, was individual groups were allowing it. Or just not caring/noticing. Then if the BSA found out they would step in and lay down the law.
posted by OwlBoy at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The vote was 61.44 percent for the proposal, and 38.56 percent against, from a voting bloc of 1400 representatives, so the post title is a little off.

I'm glad to see this step taken, though I had hoped they would allow gay adults as well. Those scouts turning 18 will still get the boot under the current policy.
posted by jazon at 3:40 PM on May 23, 2013


jazon, sorry, I forgot the % signs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:41 PM on May 23, 2013


Welcome to the late 90s, BoA.
Watch out for the rap-rock.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:43 PM on May 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


Going from Eagle Scout to adult leader isn't a promotion. If you want volunteer with a troop, prior scouting experience is not required.
posted by mkb at 3:44 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


This process has the feel of standing in calf-deep water during a flash flood. It doesn't look like it should be able to carry you, your house, and your car away - but it does. I'm glad to see the direction the current's flowing.
posted by Mooski at 3:44 PM on May 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Does anybody have further breakdowns of the vote?

If what I was reading was accurate, the votes are secret. Which was actually something that the BSA president disagreed with in a widely distributed editorial he wrote. There is some decent backstory in this article. Not a lot, but some.
posted by jessamyn at 3:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me get this fucking straight, because I'm no boy scout. It's fair to say the BSA promotes from within, letting scouts become leaders one day, and this resolution expressly prohibits homosexuals from doing so? On the basis of what? On what basis are gays allowed entry into the BSA but should be excluded from promotion?

It's not really accurate to say that the BSA promotes from within. For the most part, the adult leadership consists of the parents of the current scouts. I only know of one person who went directly into BSA leadership after being a youth scout. (He was drummed out of his troop on suspicions he was gay though so......)
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 3:46 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, this is a very small step forward, so good for that. However, I'd love to see a much more important issue with the BSA be addressed--the corrupting influence of religion into what really should be a secular, humanist, naturalist organization. If the Girl Scouts can do it, so can the Boy Scouts. And it's what Seton wanted anyway, but Baden-Powell (and later, West) forced their fundamentalist Christian belief system into the development of the organization.

In my opinion, the best BSA troops are the ones led by adults who don't view the BSA as an extension of their local church's Sunday school program. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Our youth get enough indoctrination and proselytizing in our society, they certainly don't need more as they learn Scouting values.

Yes, I know it's a pipe dream, but if I'm going to hope for change, I may as well hope for the best change possible.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 3:48 PM on May 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


[Added % signs to the post, hope that's okay]
posted by jessamyn at 3:49 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I should have noted that the title of the post is meant to be ironic, sorry)

You know you've been in lab too long when you're like, "wait, what about bovine serum albumin?"
posted by en forme de poire at 3:50 PM on May 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


A lot of Scouts move into an "Assistant Scoutmaster" position when turning 18, though they are still considered a youth member if they are registered with a Venture Crew. I have a young man in my troop that is going to college nearby; we made him an ASM when he turned 18.

Under the policy change, any gay scout could not be registered in any adult position after turning 18. If any troop has gay scouts, they will be losing potential roll-up leaders.

But others are right, there is no requirement for scout leaders to have scouting experience as a youth.

I had hoped that the resolution would have allowed each unit to decided who could be an adult leader. My troop had already talked with our chartered organization and they said they would support our selecting any leader regardless of race, gender, or orientation. Still, things are moving in the right direction.
posted by jazon at 3:50 PM on May 23, 2013


So, minimal participation by LGBT* parents, or youth once they "graduate." No, volunteering with a troop as an adult didn't require prior experience, but continuing to stay involved in your social networks as adult volunteers was encouraged both through assistant scoutmaster roles and OA.

Of course, I'm still persona non grata for my lack of theistic belief and, to a lesser extent, the religious groups I'm involved in. So still no popcorn money for them.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:51 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an Eagle Scout, I'm overjoyed to hear this. There's a long trail ahead, but the path is clear.
posted by ColdChef at 3:54 PM on May 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Hey gay kids, you can be one of us. At least until you inevitably grow into an adult queer pedophile.

That is what they are telling kids. You are still damaged and less than. We will tolerate you for now, but you are so fundamentally broken you are not safe to be around kids.

Fuck them.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:54 PM on May 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


When I was a scout, I only remember one Eagle Scout hanging around after aging out, and he only really stuck around long enough to graduate High School and join the Army. Other than that the leaders consisted entirely of parents of current scouts and parents of former Eagle Scouts. I think it's generally assumed that if you can make it to Eagle, then after you graduate HS you've got better things to do than hang around with your old scout troop. Or maybe I was in a hurry to get out of my crappy hometown and I'm just projecting.

Anyway, a positive yet underwhelming step.
posted by ckape at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2013


First, bully for the BSA making this step. Some here are saying it is small, but for the boys who will directly benefit from the decision, it is not. For those complaining they didn't go far enough, please note that they did not vote one way or the other on gay leadership; the possibility has not been foreclosed, and I'd even say that this is an example of getting the camel's nose under the tent on the "big gay scouting issue" so that they can move on to the "big gay scout leader" issue. Let's give them some time and not risk appearing to be churlish. One of the more respectable parts of Scouting has been the mentoring relationship of leaders to the boys; let's see whether the idea of gay leaders takes root perhaps on the basis of the need for good mentoring of gay Scouts.

Second, an anecdote regarding the whole "BSA as religious nutcases" idea. I know it's probably not typical, but my experience was the polar opposite. My troop (440, Crossroads of America Council, Indianapolis) was anything but religious. We met in my public junior high school gym, and every aspect of the operation seemed totally secular to me. Sure, religious piety was a part of the official BSA story (like the line in the Oath about "duty to God"), but that was just window-dressing in our troop. (A troop actually full of a bunch of schnooks and ne'er-do-wells that alienated me from the scouting experience enough to quit at Star Scout ... but that was my experience). YMMV, of course.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The change in policy will not apply to pack leaders or trans youth."

The line my org's talking points today is that "Being a gay scout now comes with an expiration date."

(Which is part of why we're pushing a bill that would include "sexual orientation and gender identity" into the anti-discrimination law that currently governs state sales tax breaks for youth orgs.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


The leading group that was opposed to the policy change was the website onmyhonor.net.

Their website is now announcing the following:
"Despite this setback, we will look to the future. I am pleased to announce that OnMyHonor.Net along with other likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members, are announcing a coalition meeting that will take place next month in Louisville, Kentucky. There we will discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys. While the meeting will be private, your voice is very important to us and will be represented there."

onmyhonor.net is run by John Stemberger, who also runs the Florida Family Policy Council, a group that started as an offshoot of Focus On The Family, with close ties to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Here is Rubio, speaking before the organization in 2010 before he became a Senator, at their policy awards dinner. He later loaned his name to the Florida Family Policy Council’s Ignite plan, which called for spending $300,000 to mandate that women view an ultrasound before having an abortion and for efforts to ‘defeat the radical homosexual agenda.’”


Anything that has the word gay on it . . . is inappropriate for kids.
posted by markkraft at 4:16 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gay kids are now allowed. Atheist kids may continue to go fuck themselves, however.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:18 PM on May 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


(Which is part of why we're pushing a bill that would include "sexual orientation and gender identity" into the anti-discrimination law that currently governs state sales tax breaks for youth orgs.)

That's good; some outside pressure might speed things up. Seem to be making progress in California. How much does BSA and individual troops benefit from the sales tax exemption? Is this enough to shut them down, or just make them suffer a little; or is it more of a moral statement?
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:18 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gay kids are now allowed. Atheist kids may continue to go fuck themselves, however.

Or, they could tell BSA to go fuck themselves, and join one of these other respectable alternatives. That said, I agree that it does not seem fair that atheists cannot fully participate in the "big league" boys' scouting organization. Maybe with some more pressure, BSA will look at the religion issue, too. As I posted above, my particular troop had just about zero religious education or religious testing going on; I don't think they would have rejected an atheist, or even bothered to ask in that troop, as long as you were willing to pay your freight and show up for meetings. And that was over 30 years ago.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


For the atheists, trans-gender youth, gay adults who wish to be leaders, and others who aren't comfortable with an organization who doesn't allow such folks into their flock (er, pack), here's the Wikipedia article on non-aligned Scouting and Scout-like organizations, and lists of non-aligned Scouting organizations from around the world. Note: some may be more restrictive than the BSA.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:32 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article's ending is a little unclear on whether this means the Mormons will be leaving scouting en masse or not. Still, there are some not-entirely-negative responses from the LDS, which is better than I'd expected.

I think this is an unambiguously good change— it's a step in the right direction and it will make further steps easier and more likely to happen.
posted by hattifattener at 4:32 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


And as has been brought up by myself and others in past BSA threads, not all boy scout troops are so concerned with the official stances, as they are with the broader structure of the oath, law, and slogan of the BSA. Some groups are more interested in the outdoor stuff (hiking, camping, backpacking and so forth), while others are geared up on getting their badges.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:37 PM on May 23, 2013


This change will make a big difference in the lives of so many young people.

"Mom, dad? I want to join the Boy Scouts!

*Mother gasps, starts weeping inconsolably*

Dad: No son of mine is going to join them librul Boy Scouters! Bigot Scouts or nuthin', young man!
posted by markkraft at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Mormon Newsroom
For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.

The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.

The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.
posted by subversiveasset at 4:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty honest statement from the Mormons, yet also pretty strategic. Here's my take on what they are saying:

"We don't object to being gay or discriminate against gay boys. We don't specifically object to or discriminate against gay sex (or at least, our general position against gay sex is not relevant in this limited context). We do, however, object to any extra-marital sex, especially sex with children. So, as long as these unmarried young men are not having sex with underaged girls, with each other, with the Scout leaders, or with anybody else for that matter, we're cool with them being Boy Scouts."

Anybody might disagree with the basic premise (e.g., atheists) , but if you accept the "no extramarital sex or sex with kids" thing the logic at least appears unassailable. Also, the fact that the only types of sex most Boy Scouts (gay or otherwise) could have would be (a) against the law because of their age and (b) canonically opposed by basically every Western religion, makes it an easy position to take. Good work loving the sinner and hating the sin, Mormon casuists!
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:55 PM on May 23, 2013


Well done, BSA. Moving in the right direction.

I was an atheist scout, no one cared. Our troop only required that you believe in something greater than yourself. Somehow, I retain my faith in people, so that was good enough.

I mean, the BSA is explicitly ok with Buddism, so religion is a big tent with them.
posted by BeeDo at 5:08 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


JimInLoganSquare,

Although it really depends on Priesthood Roulette (e.g., who the local Bishop or Stake President is in your ward/stake), typically, the application of For the Strength of Youth/Law of Chastity isn't just sex. There definitely still are inequalities here.

So, for example, the 16 year old Boy Scout who is dating (of course, only at 16! And then only in group dates!) a young lady is OK. Of course, celibacy is expected. And of course there are all sorts of things that would be inappropriate that probably wouldn't be called "sex" too. Of course.

But there are still a number of things that a couple might do.

Take instead a 16-year-old Boy Scout who is dating a young man. Even if he is celibate, if his leaders are aware of *his* relationship, then they have the discretion to find that relationship out of accordance with For the Strength of Youth, etc.,
posted by subversiveasset at 5:14 PM on May 23, 2013


That's a pretty honest statement from the Mormons, yet also pretty strategic. Here's my take on what they are saying:

As I understand it, that's pretty much been the Mormon Church's public view on homosexuality in general, including for adults. People who happen to have "same gender attractions," as the LDS often call it, are fine and deserving of respect according to Church policy, but any homosexual actions are right out. Wikipedia's article on the subject conflates the timeline of various views a little bit, but isn't a bad overview. Of course, actual reality on the ground may be different.

Jimmy Hales (video) discussed his experiences coming out as a Mormon at BYU.
posted by zachlipton at 5:20 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that, subversiveasset. The Mormon's press release was intended for the general public. I certainly had no idea about any of the concepts you have presented above; I am embarrassed by how little I know about the LDS church and its practices and language. You, as one with some insider knowledge (I presume) are able to parse out what is really being said in that press release and, more important, read between the lines and understand what it really means in practice for the Mormon leadership and layity. I see how I, as a member of the general public not fully familiar with Mormonism and the structures and systems of its organization, might not understand how the official position presented to the outside might be tailored to satisfy their expectation, yet leave open opportunities for chicanery within the organisation. Happens all the time in corporate and legal world; I get it.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:26 PM on May 23, 2013


"That's good; some outside pressure might speed things up. Seem to be making progress in California. How much does BSA and individual troops benefit from the sales tax exemption? Is this enough to shut them down, or just make them suffer a little; or is it more of a moral statement?"

So, I'm not a lawyer, and the Franchise Tax Board has to make the final determination on how it's all administered — basically, the Youth Equality Act just adds "sexual orientation and gender identity" to the list of things that any youth org isn't allowed to discriminate against and still receive the sales tax exemption, so it can vary.

But my understanding is that for individual troops, it will matter very little, if at all. Most of them are chartered through a sponsoring 501(c)3 and use that org's tax status, which this doesn't really touch. But the folks that it will hit are the councils, basically the bureaucratic apparatus of the Scouts. Those are incorporated as non-profit entities on their own, and the real hit for them — dependent upon the Franchise Tax Board — would be that corporate donations at the council level would then be subject to sales tax. Weirdly, it wouldn't impact any of the donors — they'd still get the full write off — but it could have a significant impact on the councils themselves.

For all of that, though, keep in mind that tax law is really complicated and that the bill is also written with a broader intent than just the BSA — it would apply both to any of those splinter scouting groups that come off of the BSA, and to some other conservative groups that run their own youth programs.
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The message is if you're a Scout who happens to be gay, you should reach for the stars, because unlike the Scouts, NASA doesn't discriminate
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most astronauts were Boy Scouts :/
posted by klangklangston at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2013


Most astronauts were Boy Scouts :/

Other than Sally Ride, of course.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, the fact that the only types of sex most Boy Scouts (gay or otherwise) could have would be (a) against the law because of their age and (b) canonically opposed by basically every Western religion, makes it an easy position to take. Good work loving the sinner and hating the sin, Mormon casuists!

Well, I personally believe that, say, two competent and consenting 16-year-olds can get busy together if they want to, preferably with protection please, and most states don't consider that situation to be illegal (California is an odd exception, as two minors having sex is illegal, but not subject to mandatory reporting, though any enforcement is a pretty contentious issue) Religions are free to declare it immoral (as many do with all pre-marital sex) and the Boy Scouts may prefer it banned during their events, but ultimately there's not a lot they can do about it, as it is clear that a large portion of the population disagree. Consider also the large number of people who consider themselves to be practicing Catholics who use some form of artificial contraception.

If you're talking about an adult leader of any orientation engaging in sexual acts with young scouts, that's certainly a different issue, well covered by existing laws. Even the BSA has been clear in this process that they do not believe that child sexual abuse is linked to homosexuality or an issue in this decision.
posted by zachlipton at 5:42 PM on May 23, 2013


I'm a little surprised by the general internet burble of DADT parallels and other great injustices here, in that this is pretty much a decent proof that the higher-ups at BSA know that the culture has turned against them and are letting the whole thing fall under it's own weight without being seen to demonstrate agency in the process.

Run a batch of gay boy scouts through and see how long the leadership ban lasts when the last holdouts of the ugly old world have to stare a legion of Eagles down and say "sorry, you're just not good enough."

Why, pray tell?

Maybe it's me, but I'm placing my bets now.
posted by sonascope at 5:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that demands for new groups of more inclusive scouting (BPSA and their ilk) have never been higher and I think this is just a reaction to the BSA losing membership and revenue to competitors.

But let's be honest as long as the BSA continues to be the semi-official LDS youth organization (I can't remember what percentage of active troops are LDS affiliated but at least in many states it's the dominant affiliation) the membership will continue to be "antiquated" in their viewpoints. I suspect the same is true in Catholic affiliated troops.

It's a step forward but I'm definitely going to withhold praise until they are more inclusive.
posted by vuron at 5:47 PM on May 23, 2013


Someone let me know when atheist kids get the same accommodation. I might consider donating or volunteering again. Until then though, not one dollar and not one moment of my time.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:52 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Someone let me know when atheist kids get the same accommodation.

In principle, I agree, but the idea of 'atheist kids' strikes me as an odd one. I mean, personally I very strongly felt from the time I was... I dunno, maybe 8 years old or so... that religion was a scam and the idea of a god or gods was foolish, but it took me 20 years or more after that of reading and thinking, and wavering back and forth, before I felt anything like informed enough to think about plumping down on one side of the question. Hell, it's twenty years after that now, and I still don't label myself 'atheist', even though I'm certainly not a believer of any stripe. I'm not sure there are a lot of scouting-age kids who can sensibly call themselves atheist, but perhaps I'm wrong there. Things have no doubt changed after all these years.

But that's just an aside. This vote is a good thing, even if, yeah, it doesn't go far enough.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Scout is:
trustworthy,
loyal,
helpful,
friendly,
courteous,
kind,
obedient,
cheerful,
thrifty,
brave,
clean, and
reverent,
getting better.
posted by Fizz at 6:24 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


How large is Boy Scout participation at the ages where sexual orientation starts to be a thing?

In my outsider experience, I only knew a very few boys who made it all the way to Eagle Scout, and by high school I don't think I could name a single active scout. Though I suppose since troops weren't organized through our school (and are apparently organized along much more religious lines than I realized, which may be a factor in my experience*), maybe there were a bunch of guys who all went to scout meetings and hung out with twelve year olds and I just never knew about it.

I guess my question is, how many young men will be affected by this ruling? It strikes me as a token move, since the age at which people start coming out is also the age at which people stop participating in organizations like the boy scouts. Scoutmasters/adult staff is really the bigger slice of the pie, because it effectively excludes entire families from participating meaningfully in scouting.

*I grew up Protestant in a predominantly Catholic area; our boy scout troops were organized through the local Catholic diocese and meetings were held in the town Knights Of Columbus hall. Needless to say despite the fact that I have three brothers, boy scouting wasn't nearly as much of a fixture in our house as the girl scouts were.
posted by Sara C. at 6:26 PM on May 23, 2013


If you want the direct link to For the Strength of Youth, it's right here.

And I'm sorely tempted to hunt down old LDS blog posts from the era when liberal Mormon bloggers were going on (endlessly) about how annoying it was that the youth program for boys was "just Scouting" whereas girls got a custom program - generally the opposing view was that the girls' program was lame and it was so annoying that they didn't get to go camping and setting things on fire. The general conclusion was that it was stupid to be so tied up with Scouting (and the church actually sponsors more troops than any other single organization, as far as I know.) Also, nearly everyone hated how pink the Personal Progress program for girls is (this is something I think even the most conservative LDS bloggers would tend to agree with.)

Noting also that these days, the LDS youth program for boys isn't nearly as tied up with Scouting as it used to be. The husband of one of my friends is one of the scoutmasters; they only spend one out of every three or four weeks on an actual "scouting" activity (something that would earn badges.) The content of the rest of the meetings is pretty specifically church-related.

(I have the completely unsubstantiated hunch that a lot of the liberal bloggers I know were kind of hoping the church would be all "and we're done with scouting" just so that the church's youth program would no longer be all scout-y; this really was a huge goal/desire a few years ago for a lot of people. I have been observing the gradual shift in the Duty to God program with tremendous interest, thinking of those bloggers every time it changes to become less like Scouting.)
posted by SMPA at 6:28 PM on May 23, 2013


I remember the Cub Scouts. Our troop leader did ridiculous, embarrassing things, like inspect our fingernails for cleanliness. What? Still, there was some fun.

Uncharacteristically, and for what reason I don't know, I got into the miniature soapbox car races. It was the first and last time that I exhibited an interest in woodworking. Seriously, I can still see my boxy racer in my mind's eye, painted the mustard yellow of my dad's '57 T-Bird.

I remember the Boy Scouts. That's when what little fun there was in scouting came to an abrupt end. My first and last camping trip was a grunion run on the California Coast. I got punished for being found on the beach without my buddy. Of course I did. I hated that shithead. Plus, it was impossible to sleep in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard ground, without a pillow.

Now, as a gay adult, I know that God invented houses and nice bed linens for a reason, and this insight has stood me well.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:31 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


the idea of 'atheist kids' strikes me as an odd one

Huh? My parents never imparted me with any religious, well, anything, so what would that make me other than an "atheist kid" (at the time)?
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:36 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: active Mormon families tend to want their boys to get their Eagle. When I visit the Scout booth at the state fair, the list of Eagles (on the big wooden display thing) whose surnames I recognize is REALLY high considering how small a portion of the population we are in Ohio. Every young LDS man in my parents' ward has his Eagle well before he ages out, including the ones who hate camping and the outdoors (I still have no idea how one of my little sister's good friends managed it, since I'm not sure I ever saw him do or talk about anything other than school and video games/popular geekdom.)

The pressure is somewhat similarly on to get your YW medallion; it always irritated me that boys with their Eagles get scholarships, whereas no one gives money to LDS girls who get their medallion. It's my experience that most boys who are active at all in church past the age of 13 (here in this part of the country, where that's a high bar) get their Eagle, and all the girls who graduate from Seminary get their medallion; girls aren't rewarded as highly socially - no court of honor, etc. - and it seems like the "oh, I didn't get it" thing is much less bad for girls (which is also how it's been with serving a mission.) You're also allowed to get your medallion after you turn 18 (like, as an adult,) which as far as I know isn't an option for Scout leaders.

I don't actually know any adult men under about 50 who have their Eagle, except for Mormons and the volunteer Scouting leaders who aren't Mormons.
posted by SMPA at 6:37 PM on May 23, 2013


I guess my question is, how many young men will be affected by this ruling? It strikes me as a token move, since the age at which people start coming out is also the age at which people stop participating in organizations like the boy scouts.

I think there are a few assumptions in this statement, but maybe my confirmation biases are just different. I grew up in rural New England and while scouting wasn't huge I knew a few guys in my immediate friends group (and not Mormons, in case that matters) who got their Eagle.

And the big deal about making Scouts not homophobic towards kids (and I'd also question at what age kids know they are gay, but that's a "cites please" conversation for another time) is that it allows kids to ask questions and think about their sexuality in a wider variety of ways. Kids already have enough to worry about as far as their folks and friends being judgmental if they are different. It would be nice if one of the larger organizations for healthy outdoors activities wasn't actively going to kick you out if it turned out you were gay. I don't see this as a token move at all, if it were a token move I think it would not have met so much active and aggressive resistance.

I dropped out of girl scouts when I was in elementary school mostly because I couldn't stomach the idea of being a cookie salesperson, but scouting generally was big where I was, all the way into high school.
posted by jessamyn at 6:53 PM on May 23, 2013


Huh? My parents never imparted me with any religious, well, anything, so what would that make me other than an "atheist kid" (at the time)?

No, nor did mine, though they were nominally 'christian'.

Perhaps your reaction is a difference in definition. The way I understand atheism (or religious belief) is as an informed choice. That may be different from the way most people approach the term, I admit, but I don't think it makes sense to describe kids as 'atheist' if what they are is simply devoid of any considered-to-the-extent-they-are-able-to-do-so personal position on the matter.

I actually think that applies equally to adults, for that matter. But again, that's a tangent.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:57 PM on May 23, 2013


"My understanding is that demands for new groups of more inclusive scouting (BPSA and their ilk) have never been higher and I think this is just a reaction to the BSA losing membership and revenue to competitors."

One of the consistent things we heard when we reached out to local troops was that the local troops REALLY wanted to end the policy because it meant that they were having trouble recruiting enough kids. Even if the kids weren't gay, enough parents didn't want their kids in organizations where gay kids couldn't also join, or that would kick the kids out if they came out later.

"I guess my question is, how many young men will be affected by this ruling? It strikes me as a token move, since the age at which people start coming out is also the age at which people stop participating in organizations like the boy scouts. Scoutmasters/adult staff is really the bigger slice of the pie, because it effectively excludes entire families from participating meaningfully in scouting."

Quite a few, actually. About 50 percent of American boys are in the Scouts at one period or another. In my high school, a whole bunch of the dope smoking theater kids were also Eagle scouts. If you had a cool troop, you could do a lot of sweet stuff, especially if you liked being outdoors. It's more a suburban and rural thing than an urban thing, I think, but a ton.

And remember, it's not just the gay kids who are affected by this — their families too (what if your brother is gay? Still wanna scout? Maybe not so much), as well as allies, etc.

As a side note, from working with a lot of LGBT folks, scouts are pretty wildly over-represented in the gay rights movement. (My hypothesis is that the scouts actually teach a lot of good planning and organization skills, so scouts end up as good activists, and the whole anti-gay policy meant that a lot of them got pushed toward activism.) But pretty much every blond dude in the office with a square jaw, from our dev. associate to our ED, is an Eagle scout.
posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on May 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


As an Eagle Scout, I'm overjoyed to hear this.

ColdChef, have you returned your Eagle Scout badge yet? I know you've talked eloquently about it in the past, but I'm curious what you think about the idea now.

There's a long trail ahead, but the path is clear.

Because, with enormous respect, I'm sitting here kind of thinking that now would be a *perfect* time to ramp up the Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges campaign. That "clear path" you're talking about seems to me to include an awful lot of Eagle Scouts responding to this half-assed, blatantly discriminatory move with one simple statement:




"THIS IS NOT FUCKING ENOUGH."
posted by mediareport at 7:16 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just had a baby a few months ago, and I was really surprised to find out that they put her in a wing of the hospital reserved for atheists. All the other newborns there were also atheists.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 7:17 PM on May 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


And the big deal about making Scouts not homophobic towards kids (and I'd also question at what age kids know they are gay, but that's a "cites please" conversation for another time) is that it allows kids to ask questions and think about their sexuality in a wider variety of ways.

No, I get why it's a good thing that they made this ruling.

It just seems, to me, as an outsider to the BSA, to be such a small tokenistic patch of ground to give.

(FWIW I definitely agree that people tend to realize that they're gay long before puberty, I just don't know how much that would impact after-school activities like scouting.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:23 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nevermind, I stand corrected.

I honestly did not know how many guys continued to participate in scouting after ~10 years old, which is when it started to drop off among most kids I grew up with.

Interesting to know.

Literally the only guys I knew who even went for Eagle were super-clean cut very religious boys from conservative families who grew up to be military officers. I thought it was a super specific thing to be into, leading directly into Jr ROTC, ROTC, military academies, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on May 23, 2013


I grew up with a glowing opinion of BSA. My older brother made Eagle Scout, and I was always jealous and stealing his handbook and reading Boys Life. They camped and built stuff and made potato guns.

My older brother is an atheist, as is the rest of my family, but it was never an issue. I hung around a lot of events and meetings, and never encounted a lot of religion or God, and it wasn't until much later that I learned just how messed up BSA is as an institution.

Granted I grew up in a small, liberal town. I guess my older brother was spoiled. I'm glad to hear that BSA as a whole is making baby steps towards becoming as awesome as the troop I interacted with as a kid.
posted by Grandysaur at 7:41 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


How large is Boy Scout participation at the ages where sexual orientation starts to be a thing?

For some people, it's not enough to control and shame adults. The indoctrination starts in childhood and whispered fears about so and so's orientation are heard by young kids. The evangelicals who send their kids to scared straight camps are paranoid that other people's gay kids might influence the sexual orientation of any other human being.

So I'd say that among very conservative groups, sexual orientation is a thing as soon as you become aware that it is. Even of that awareness is just a bare minimum of 'some desires are wrong and evil. And the people who act on those desires are sinners who can't be trusted with children.'

(as for the other parsing of that question, some kids are aware that they are gay and have gay crushes on other kids very young. Other kids don't figure it out until high school. Some kids don't figure it out until 40 or beyond....)
posted by bilabial at 7:43 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I'd say that among very conservative groups, sexual orientation is a thing as soon as you become aware that it is. Even of that awareness is just a bare minimum of 'some desires are wrong and evil. And the people who act on those desires are sinners who can't be trusted with children.'

(as for the other parsing of that question, some kids are aware that they are gay and have gay crushes on other kids very young. Other kids don't figure it out until high school. Some kids don't figure it out until 40 or beyond....)


Again, guys, I know all that.

I was really and truly ONLY curious about the number of boys who continue to be active in scouting as folks go through puberty, start actually facing hard questions about their sexuality, coming out, etc.

And it looks like the answer is "a lot", actually. Which is all I wanted to know.

I'm bi, identified as lesbian for a long time, took queer studies courses in college, an am super duper down with LGBTQ issues in general.

It's the boy scouts as a group that I know little or nothing about.
posted by Sara C. at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2013


The Scout policy on atheism was a great instructional tool in teaching me what living with a dark secret and hiding one's true self was about. The Scouts continue to make this a sticking point to the point of declaration:

"The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts from the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of leadership."

Unfortunately my home was irreligious. Also, I call bullshit that athiests are back-of-the-bus citizens. I mumbled through the requisite Scout's Own, lead reasonable grace services and still squirmed like hell through my Eagle board when I was not let off the hook with the stock, "I'm avoiding this question please," answer.

A Scout is Trustworthy, except when oppressed.

I'm glad that my excluded brothers are now welcome formally in the fold and wish that someday the Scouts realize that perhaps those of us on the outside need Scouts almost more than those with other moral compasses in their lives.

Alternately I think they should start applying the Oath and Law more stringently and with equality and kick out dirty, physically unfit, unfriendly, unhelpful and uncheerful Scouts and Scouters. This will make most Scout camps exceptionally quieter.

PS -- Please stop making the uniforms look like NASCAR outfits. Also, those new pleated breast pockets. Yikes.

Yours in (an inclusive) Scouting (future)...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:45 PM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


@stavrosthewonderchicken

I see what you're getting at. But for the sake of keeping this simple and sane, let's just say there are kids raised without religion and for the sake of simplicity, we'll call 'em atheist kids. The alternative is a pretty serious derail about whether kids can even really make philosophical choices of that ilk on their own or if they can, to what extent and at what age. Considering the unkind things likely to come out of that conversation and that it's two tangents out from the main thrust of the FPP, I'm thinking we should let it go. But I do definitely get your point.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2013


I had one good year of scouting. Out of about 4 years total. In that one good year our troop was about hiking, camping, and doing fun kid stuff in a town that really had nothing to offer kids. No one was pushed about religion or sex or any of the stuff we really weren't thinking of. Our uniform consisted of a shirt, or a neckerchief, or possibly a hat, what ever part your family could afford. And we had a great time. When I think of scouting I think of that year. I don't think of my cub scout troop, that seemed to be about salesmanship and bullshit, or the other 2 troops I was involved in later (which sucked mighty ass). Scouting shouldn't be about what religion you are or your sexual orientation or any bullshit like that. It shouldn't be about indoctrinating kids. It should be about teaching kids how to set the woods on fire, or break into your scoutmaster's car and steal his food. you know, fun stuff.
posted by evilDoug at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And FWIW, while I give the BSA a modicum of credit for this, I'm still pretty disillusioned with them in general, as the loudest voices in their organization continue to hold to the belief that Boy Scouts is some kind of finishing organization for a particular kind of Judeo-Christian, conservative, rural or suburban middle class white person. While I don't doubt there are plenty of fine troops out there with a more diverse makeup and outlook, the persistence of the aforementioned types still gives me a bad taste in my mouth.

I grew up in a Scouting family, but my kid will be joining Navigators USA when he's old enough.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


ColdChef, have you returned your Eagle Scout badge yet? I know you've talked eloquently about it in the past, but I'm curious what you think about the idea now.

mediareport: I understand the gesture. Nearly twenty years ago, I sent a letter of complaint to the National Office saying that because of their discriminatory practices, I no longer wished to be affiliated with their program and that I'd like to be no longer considered for their fund-raising. (I may have even mailed AN Eagle Scout Patch to them, but when you participated on a local, regional, national, and international level of Scouting like I did back then, you had literally dozens of Eagle Badges). I never got a response.

Here's the thing, though: this afternoon, I communicated with half a dozen Eagle Scouts (we had a very active troop and almost my entire peer group made it to Eagle. A huge accomplishment, if I do say so) and every single one of them had the same response to today's ruling: "About damn time."

The program will change, but change comes in steps. Do I wish they'd made all levels today gay-friendly? Of course. Is that a realistic goal? Probably not.

But it's like one of my friends said this afternoon: "You know who doesn't like gay people? You know who really, really HATES gay people? Someone who doesn't know any gay people and doesn't interact with any gay people." It's easy to be a bigot when you don't know the person you're hurting. But when these boys go through the program and become men through the program, and the Scouting leaders realize that "gay people" aren't an abstract concept but the children that they've loved and instructed, those walls will come crashing down. It will happen. Today was the first step towards a better program. One that lives up to the oath "On my honor, I will do my best."

Scouts aren't their best yet, but they're better than they were yesterday.
posted by ColdChef at 9:01 PM on May 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Sara C.: as of December 2010, apparently there were ~800,000 boy scouts between 10 and 18, and 225,000 Venturer Scouts aged between 14 and 21.
posted by jacalata at 9:01 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The alternative is a pretty serious derail about whether kids can even really make philosophical choices of that ilk on their own or if they can, to what extent and at what age.

A thorny and fascinating one, but I agree, this isn't the thread for it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:02 PM on May 23, 2013


But for the sake of keeping this simple and sane, let's just say there are kids raised without religion and for the sake of simplicity, we'll call 'em atheist kids.

I also think this is an important distinction to make, not on a philosophical level, but on a social/practical level.

There's a bit of a difference growing up in a nominally Christian family that doesn't practice religion and growing up in a family where the parents are explicitly non-religious and there's nothing to prop up in a "keeping up appearances" sort of way.

My hometown BSA troop/council/whatever they call it met in a Knights Of Columbus hall. I didn't feel comfortable going there as a kid, as a Protestant. My very tangential* experiences with boy scouts are one of the few experiences of religious exclusion I have, as a member of one of the most widely accepted religious groups in the USA. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a boy scout if your whole family was explicitly nonreligious.

*I have a crap load of brothers and was always getting dragged along to BSA functions for the year or so that my brothers participated.
posted by Sara C. at 9:09 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way I understand atheism (or religious belief) is as an informed choice. That may be different from the way most people approach the term, I admit, but I don't think it makes sense to describe kids as 'atheist' if what they are is simply devoid of any considered-to-the-extent-they-are-able-to-do-so personal position on the matter.

Ok, but then surely it doesn't make sense for kids to be described as "theist" either, right?
posted by naoko at 9:23 PM on May 23, 2013


Correct. But I'm feeling bad this is turning into a derail, so I'm out.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on May 23, 2013


They're still discriminating. I don't know why people don't just leave the damn organization. Take their kids out. Go join something else. There are other options. Money talks louder than anything.

Whatever it is, it is not worth being in it and supporting the people who support these archaic and harmful ideals. Your money feeds them. Stop it.
posted by Malice at 9:26 PM on May 23, 2013


> You know you've been in lab too long when you're like, "wait, what about bovine serum albumin?"

Heh, I always read it as "Baltimore School of the Arts" for a second before the context kicks in. Habits, old or new, die hard.
posted by desuetude at 9:55 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The saddest thing to me is the suspicion that the Boy Scouts are actually as tone-deaf as they appear to be here.

Okay, we give in, we get it! We'll stop disallowing "gay" youths* from scouting!

Wait, wait, what do you mean, "what about scout leaders?" This has something to do with scout leaders? We were supposed to understand that? But, it's like a totally different issue! I dunno, I guess maybe someone could appoint a committee to start thinking about that. What do you mean by "use logic?"-- we use logic all the time, duh, that's why we know how to light a campfire with sticks, hello.

*We're pretty sure that statistically speaking it's such a tiny practical issue (c'mon, the majority of our scouts are waaaaay too young to be Engaging In Homosexual Activities) that all we really had to do was pay the shame fee of "changing our minds" which we can totally milk for PR anyway.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 PM on May 23, 2013


I am very happy about this. Despite their many flaws, I still believe the Scouts do far more good than harm. There aren't really any competing organizations with anywhere near the same scope and resources, and they improve many many lives. Gay scout leaders will be allowed soon enough, now that the ball is rolling.

I am not and have never been a Boy Scout.
posted by miyabo at 10:33 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I nevre thought I'd see all this happen in my lifetime. Amazing.
posted by homunculus at 1:16 AM on May 24, 2013


Not tone deaf so much as having people of starkly opposite political persuasions involved. That tone you don't like is loved by others.
posted by smackfu at 4:42 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


1: Teen participation in both religious congregations and exploring atheism and agnosticism is a done deal. Many religions hold their religious coming-of-age ceremonies between the ages of 12-16 (bar/bat mitzvah, confirmation, and volitional baptism come to mind). Kids also make choices to explore other philosophies. Treating spiritual development (either self identity or social) as if it's a PhD thesis doesn't make a lot of sense. (Kids are also taking their first steps in career development at this time, including steps that might lead to a PhD thesis.)

2: The BSA has justified both discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and religion by using a loophole written for them in Civil Rights laws that were passed in the 60s and 70s. I don't think clinging to that loophole makes a lot of sense, no matter what your opinions of adolescent development.

3: This historically has caused some friction between the BSA and non-theistic or non-creedal religious groups. So the discrimination is also about adult leaders and at the institutional level.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:05 AM on May 24, 2013


It's also interesting to me that the same arguments are raised against both self-identified LGBT teens and self-identified atheist teens. Since teen sexuality and spirituality is developmental, kids shouldn't be taking about their own views in these matters until much later.

That doesn't make sense to me because development doesn't really stop until death, it just reaches certain plateaus where things become temporarily stable. And the argument usually isn't made when it comes to sexualities and spiritualities that are part of or accepted by the dominant culture.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:36 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm an Eagle Scout and I'm pretty happy about this. No it isn't perfect, but man, I had more or less given up thinking this would ever happen.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:11 PM on May 24, 2013


Once upon a time, same-sex marraige was illegal everywhere in the US; now, there are what, thirteen states that allow it? Sure, thirteen isn't as good as all of them, but it's better than zero.

Same with this: it isn't as good as the BSA getting out of their members and leaders' bedrooms, but it's better than nothing. Here's hoping that one day soon, we can stop counting the baby-steps forward.
posted by easily confused at 3:44 PM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will never support scouting until the get rid of the neckerchief and collar look.

They need to return to the the shirts with no collars to be worn with neckerchiefs!

It just looks stupid to have them both, the kerchief, and the stupid fucking collar flapping on top of it.
posted by Megafly at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2013


Megafly, that varies by troop. Mine did not use neckerchiefs.

Jeez, why is Madonna wearing a Cub Scout uniform with all the wrong patches? Weeeeeird.
posted by mkb at 4:56 PM on May 24, 2013


Having spent the day interacting with people on the BSA facebook page, my opinion about the future of scouting in the US has changed. My family had cut all ties with the BSA after a long relationship (Eagles, OA, Philmont Employees) based on the relatively new policies requiring the expulsion of gays and atheists, our friends and family.
My first thought upon hearing this news was "Good, but too little, too late."
But listening to the troglodytes (and I apologize to the good cave dwellers among us) spew bile and invective and declare their intention to quit the org, remove their kids and choke off the funds . . . well it made me realize that now might be the time for me and my kid to get back in.
With the religious right gone, it is only a matter of time before they reverse the exclusionary policies, especially if those of us who were driven away return. For years the religious right used their money and numbers to drive us out, if they want to drive themselves out by being backwards and bigoted, that's a win for the good.

And there were many of people who feel like I do. The late-'80s to early-'90s saw a purge in the Scouts of anyone who looked, acted, or felt different or supported the rights of their gay brothers and sisters. When the Scouts went downhill, we left and didn't return.
Most of my friends (degenerates, hippies, punks and weirdos all) were Scouts and have been fighting the internal battle over whether to allow our kids to join, especially since we have so many great stories that we continue to tell (Really, are their people who go around intentionally stashing porn, beer and/or cigars in the woods for scout troops to find? How do I tell stories of chasing bears while leaving out the boy scout bits?).
Maybe it's time to give our kids the chance to be degenerates and derelicts, geeks and losers, outcasts and weirdos, just like we had. Shit, my kid his almost six and our discussion yesterday was whether we should join the cub scouts to fight for his Aunts' rights from the inside!

(Yeah, it wasn't all sobriety, crew-cuts, pathways to the military, church, hetero-normative behavior and all that bullshit for many many many of us.)
posted by Seamus at 1:33 AM on May 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Scalia resigns post as scoutmaster
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who for the past forty-seven years has served as a weekend scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, angrily resigned from that position yesterday, effective immediately.

Justice Scalia quit his post in a terse resignation letter that read, in part:

“Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined. Ruined.”

Shortly after sending the letter, Justice Scalia destroyed his scoutmaster uniform in the blazing fireplace of his Supreme Court office.

Later, he went across the hall to share his decision with his close confidant on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, telling him, “There’s nowhere I feel safe anymore, Clarence. The military? The N.B.A.? Nowhere. I guess the only place I still feel safe is the Supreme Court. This is still a safe place, isn’t it?”

Justice Thomas said nothing in reply.
(Borowitz Report)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wasn't brought up in a particularly religious or irreligious household. We were, however, exposed to religion from outside the family and my parent allowed us to make our own choices. By the time I transitioned from Webelos to Boy Scout, I knew that I didn't believe in a god or higher power. The Oath made me uncomfortable (I'm supposed to be honorable but hide my true self) but religion was never a big deal in my scouting experience (and neither was sexuality).

My point? That there are, indeed, child atheists and I was one of them.
posted by melt away at 3:40 AM on May 26, 2013


Late to the party, but my son wanted to be a scout. His Cub Scout troop hasn't brought up the religion thing, although if he wants to go further than cub scouts it is likely to be an issue since the local troop is held by the ginormous mega church that everyone but us seems to belong to. The gay thing was a make or break for me in that I said I would no longer participate in BSA if they voted against gay kids. My son has grown up surrounded by the gay, so he agreed that discrimination was not for him. When or if the religion thing raises its ugly head, we will deal with it then, it this is a good step, and I'm glad to see the BSA take it.
posted by dejah420 at 4:09 PM on May 26, 2013


Malice: "They're still discriminating. I don't know why people don't just leave the damn organization. Take their kids out. Go join something else. There are other options. Money talks louder than anything."

A lot of smaller places there aren't any choices. One can sometimes bootstrap something but that involves much more effort than joining an active troop.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 PM on June 1, 2013


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