Boston Boy Scouts allow gay leaders

August 1, 2001 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Boston Boy Scouts allow gay leaders
I have many friends who were Eagle Scouts. They all say that there were many openly gay scouts during their time. This whole issue strikes me as purely technical.

What do other Scouts at Metafilter think?
posted by awcole72 (20 comments total)
I think it's fine. Being gay has nothing at all to do with being a child molester. In fact, although I have no stats to back me up, I'd say that most child abusers are actually messed up heterosexual people (men mostly).

As far as fellow scouts goes, who gives a shit? It's the homophobic nature of this nation (especially the religious right) that perpetuates these monster stories.

OT: See, I'm a registered republican but can't stand most of the people in my party. We need a multi-party system.
posted by fooljay at 5:12 PM on August 1, 2001

I grew up around homosexuals (attended a MCC church) and they never were a factor to me. Still, people fear things they don't understand... It's just going to take time until people meet the first decent minority. I know a lot of people who have never really been friends with a homosexual, it's just alien to them.

Growing up surrounded by african-americans was a damn frightening experience for a slim white boy in downtown Buffalo. It took me going to basic training and meeting them out of that environment to realize that they were just people like everyone else, no difference whatsoever. Honestly, I think a lot of the things we blame on race/sexuality are more economic and social than anything else.
posted by revbrian at 5:27 PM on August 1, 2001

I'm an eagle scout, and it was a wonderful experience for me. I loved being a scout, and I wish that I could be involved with the program. However, I have made it abundantly clear when asked to donate both time and money that I will not give either, even though I would very much love to, until the boy scouts as a national organization reverses its' stance on allowing gays in any and every capacity to participate in scouting.

I just hope that the boy scouts change their attitude before I have kids, because i think it's worthwhile....and while they're at it, they ought to admit women as well. The US is one of the last countries to have separate male and female scouting groups.
posted by chacal at 5:53 PM on August 1, 2001

If you didn't see it... Newsweek's cover story. Our local United Way cut funding and the Scouts lost their free use of schools for events because of their anti-gay policies and our city's anti-gay discrimination laws. Unfortunately, as may soon be the case, the national HQ could force the Boston chapter to either follow its national policy or give it the boot. Why not just form an alterna-Scouts... same programs and badges, plus acceptance of others?
posted by gramcracker at 6:31 PM on August 1, 2001

It's a step forward, but it ain't a panacea. I find it very difficult to believe that a heterosexual scoutmaster will be ejected from the Boston Boy Scouts for discussing his sexual orientation; this is just sweeping the issue under the carpet, as it were.
posted by delfuego at 7:09 PM on August 1, 2001

What does "the first decent minority" mean?
posted by sudama at 8:04 PM on August 1, 2001

[What does "the first decent minority" mean?]

Are you honestly confused or just trolling? If you don't know...

The first "decent minority" is the first time someone meets someone from outside his/her normal scope of understanding and finds that person to be nothing like the stereotype they had.
posted by revbrian at 8:49 PM on August 1, 2001

I was an Eagle Scout. I served as Lodge Chief of my OA Lodge and attended many Jamborees (both National and World). I was a vigil honor member. I participated in many of the high adventure programs, started an Explorer post and saw my community benefit from all of Scouting's services.

But, like Chacal, I find myself no longer able to support the program that I loved- the program that made me the person I am today.

Look, simply enough, there ARE active gays in the BSA. And there are ignorant rednecks. And there are urban kids who just want to sleep outside, if for no other reason, just to spend one night without the sound of sirens and gunfire. There are jocks and geeks and lunkheads and losers and some of the country's best and brightest and some of it's...well not so best and bright. They are in the program for one reason: to learn. To learn to be a better person.

But to unfairly choose one group to kick out and prevent them from participating? Why not also kick out the blacks or hispanics? It's obvious that they don't fit the model for "the majority" of other scouts. And what about the Jews? Do I want a Jewish Scoutmaster that may teach my son about Jewish tradition?

Scouting needs to make an about-face, or all the great, wonderful things it stands for will be overshadowed by it's disgraceful anti-gay policy.

When all of this came to a head this spring, I looked into my heart, and the "morally straight" decision I made was to put my feelings into a letter, put it in an envelope with my Eagle Scout badge that I worked for years to earn, and mailed it to national headquarters.

Until the Scouts drop their exclusionary practices, I can't proudly call myself an Eagle Scout. Could you?
posted by ColdChef at 9:35 PM on August 1, 2001

What I heard: a few years ago the Mormons made a concerted effort to gain leadership positions in the BSA so they could shape its policies to match Mormon beliefs. Once they "took over" the BSA, gay scouts were no longer welcome.

Sounds crazy. Sounds conspiratorial. I believe it's true, but I have no links to offer as proof.
posted by neuroshred at 11:24 PM on August 1, 2001

i take objection to the suggestion that only members of scouts have a valid or worthwhile judgement on the inclusion of homosexual people into their organization. furthermore, i think the us military's fumbling on this same issue showed that a small group is a poor arbitrator of the inclusion of homosexuals.

i shamefully admit that i once held the title of scout, sullied by their scout's what could at best be called uncivilized treatment or at worst called the abuse of the human rights of homosexuals.

well done, boston scouts!
posted by will at 2:37 AM on August 2, 2001

What do other Scouts at Metafilter think?

Be prepared. Carry condoms. :)
posted by nofundy at 5:28 AM on August 2, 2001

How dare they ban gays from the Scouting movement? What are they, homophobes and idiots!? ... The Mormons on the other hand... They've taken over the Scout Troops! Burn them all!!

I was a Cub and a Scout here in Canada. So was my sister. It was a terrific experience, but it was the diversity that I most enjoyed. The Canadian Scouting movement doesn't have the same discriminatory policies as its American cousins, and I'm glad. The Scouting movement is a private organization, so I suppose it has the right to do what it pleases, but its anti-gay policy is contrary to the very principles Baden-Powell stood for. The movement's policies should be (and are being) criticized, and any governmental support should be withdrawn, until this changes. Well done, Boston.

But then, the same goes for charities, selon moi, and we all know how that goes.
posted by Marquis at 6:57 AM on August 2, 2001

The Mormon angle is discussed in this Newsweek/ article from earlier this week.

Do I want a Jewish Scoutmaster that may teach my son about Jewish tradition?

The interesting thing is that troops located at Mormon churches generally have Mormon Scoutmasters. Those located at synagogues or Jewish community centers typically have Jewish scoutmasters. It seems fairly typical that if you're in a niche community, the scout troop and its leadership reflects that and its easier to keep your kid in a more "exclusive" troop as a result. The difference is that the predominately Jewish troops and the predominately Christian troops haven't seemed to push their Scoutmasters into overall BSA leadership with a view toward imposing their ideals on the group at large.
posted by Dreama at 8:31 AM on August 2, 2001

Im an Eagle Scout as well. I owe a lot to my troop for the amazing experiences I've had.

at 1st it made me mad when I heard about the ruling. but I soon accepted that it truly is their choice and they do have every right to make that decision.

I think its the biggest mistake they have ever made.

and like the other scouts here, it makes me feel embarrassed to be associated with an organization that enforces policies like that.
posted by Qambient at 8:33 AM on August 2, 2001

I'm an Eagle, and I'm all for letting anyone long as they won't be embarrassed by the knee-high green socks with red tops. *That* should be the litmus test for being a Scout.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:21 AM on August 2, 2001

I often wonder what people think of my being an Eagle Scout...

The atmosphere in my troop on the California coast was one which was very supportive of diversity (sexual preference included). That insight however, is one that unfortunately only I have.

For people other than myself who haven't had the wonderful experiences I've had with the Scouts, the actions of the national organization speak loudly. In the eye of the public, Scouts isn't about a good turn daily anymore- it's about discriminating against homosexuals.

Seeing how such intolerance is definitely not something I support, I too am quite confused and embarrassed to be called an Eagle Scout.

This conflict between what it means to be an Eagle Scout to me (through my personal experience) and what it means to be an Eagle Scout certified by the national organization is something I haven't resolved yet. I hope it doesn't come down to putting my badge in the mail, like ColdChef.

As for the Mormon conspiracy... Come to think of it, my Board of Review was held at a Church of Latter Day Saints...
posted by lpqboy at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2001

i never got my eagle, got bored--only son out of 4 that didn't--but i was Cub Scout of the Year for my district and council. Oh. And i was a mormon scout--back in my long-gone-mormon days. Our assistant scout master wasn't mormon...but his sons were. [they eventually got him though, poor guy.] Mormons are big on scouting. Every mormon kid i knew was a scout, its used part of the church's youth programs. We even had our own jamborees, encampments, scout camps etc....

until american scouting becomes a little more open-minded, and co-ed, i wouldn't want my future children involved.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:55 AM on August 2, 2001

I was a scout, and I find it odd that the issue is even relevant. I don't recall a single time when sexuality of any sort was discussed or dealt with. My tentmates and scoutmasters could all have been deeply into bondage and bestiality for all I knew or cared I guess....
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:54 AM on August 2, 2001

...which maybe explains some of those scary nighttime noises now that I think about it (sorry couldn't resist!)
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:54 AM on August 2, 2001

Of course, in past years, homosexuality wasn't even acknowledged. There was a long time, too, when the Scouts were handling molestation allegations with approximately the same alacrity with which the Roman Catholic Church continues to do so. Then they flipped over to the red zone and decided the best way to prevent molestation was to finger gays ... er, remove gays. (Naturally, any molestation of a scout by a leader is labelled as homosexual behavior; thus only homosexual scout leaders molest, quod erat demonstrandum. Despite statistics showing a whopping 90% of molestors (in society in general) are heterosexual, roughly matching the overall sexual orientation figures, this isn't something that the flyover is likely to have a deeper understanding of any time soon, alas.)

Anyway, the Scouts have staked out a position and taken it to the Supreme Court that they get to decide who's a Scout. They'll probably find a way to kick out the Boston conference (then reorganize it and welcome in a percentage of troops comfortable with the national policy), and the ejected troops will probably go over to the Campfire Clubs or someplace else that's diversity-friendly. This is essentially what's happening in certain mainstream Protestant denominations with gay issues. The Scouts are determined to participate in the marketplace of ideas, and I think the marketplace is going to make them a poorer, smaller organization in the long run, no longer the American institution to which they aspire.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 PM on August 2, 2001

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