In Defense of the Boy Scouts

ScoutsEvery couple of months, it seems a new article pops up about how the Boy Scouts of America did something that’s anti-gay.

Most recently, the Boy Scouts revoked a charter membership held by a Seattle church because one of their scoutmasters was gay.

Back in 2000, there was a legal case that went all the way through to the United States Supreme Court between the Boy Scouts of America and an openly gay scoutmaster named James Dale.

The court decided that the Boy Scouts held the constitutional right to freedom of association, which allows a private organization like the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.”

The Boy Scouts have since relaxed their stance towards homosexuals and effective January 1st, 2014, they allow openly gay members to become scouts, but they still hold that gay people cannot be scoutmasters.

Whenever these cases are in the news, a large group of people get really upset about the Boy Scouts not allowing gay people, and they vow to pull their kids out and protest the Boy Scouts. In 2012, both Intel and UPS revoked their financial support of the Boy Scouts over their anti-gay stance.

On the other side of the coin, many conservative religious groups who support the anti-gay views get all worked up anytime there is talk that the Boy Scouts might change their stance. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Boy Scouts largest supporter, has threatened to completely withdraw all support of Boy Scouts if they allow gay scoutmasters.

Many other groups like the Westboro Baptist Church who are firm supporters of the Boy Scouts have made their opinion well known that gay scoutmasters should be kept out.

Some groups have taken the extreme approach of founding alternate ‘scouting’ organizations like Trail Life USA that explicitly prohibit all gay members and leaders.

Is any of this really a surprise though? Take a look at the top 8 organizations who sponsor Boy Scout charters and 6 of them are religious groups. Numbers 1 and 3 are the Mormons and the Catholics, two very large religious groups who also have problems with homosexuality.

People get really passionate about this topic, and regardless of which direction the Boy Scouts choose to go, I am sure the controversy will extend for many years to come, which brings me to the point of this article.

The people who lose out on all of this nonsense are not the religious or political leaders, or the large corporations that donate money to the Boy Scouts organization, it’s the children who are actually in the program.

I was a Boy Scout for a couple of years as a kid and I loved it. Never once do I remember the topic of homosexuality or sexual orientation come up. Once a week, I met other kids my age, and we did cool projects together. We went camping, we learned how to build a tent, and how to tie knots. We built and raced Pinewood Derby cars, we learned about outdoor survival and how to use a First Aid kit.

We did tons of cool boy things. We celebrated being boys and learned useful skills that actually apply to being an adult. I would go as far as to say that right now, as a 35 year old man, I learned more useful things in 3 years of scouting than I did in all of high school.

To this very day, I still keep in touch with a couple of guys that I met in Boy Scouts, and if you believe in the Butterfly Effect, there is a sequence of events in my life where had I never been a Boy Scout, I wouldn’t have the job I have now, I wouldn’t have met my wife, and I wouldn’t have had my son.

It’s plausible that times have changed, and perhaps now in 2014, sexual orientation is mentioned in scout meetings, but I doubt it. I think that most kids currently enrolled in Boy Scouts have the same experiences as I did.

This whole anti-gay thing is stupid, and shouldn’t be an issue. I know the kids don’t care, yet they’re the ones that are losing out. The more people who pull their kids out of Boy Scouts, the more kids are going to grow up and not have the experiences I did as a kid.

It’s worth noting that the Boy Scouts ban on gays is actually not the largest group of people that they don’t allow. There is a much larger group of people in the general population who also aren’t allowed to be Boy Scouts, and they’re called girls. Maybe that’s OK though because girls have Girl Scouts. Why doesn’t anyone have a problem with this? The Girl Scout curriculum is very different than that of Boy Scouts. What if a parent of a girl wanted their girl to be a Boy Scout and learn about Boy Scout things? No one seems to have a problem with this.

Oh, and the Boy Scouts don’t allow membership to Atheists or Agnostics either. You have to believe in God in order to join.

The Scout Law says:

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

What’s wrong with that? I think all of those qualities are great. Kids these days need to learn to be trustworthy, and loyal, to help others, to be brave, and learn how to respect people.

These days, boys do less and less boy stuff. Where are male children going to experience camping and wilderness, first aid, or fitness?  Who is going to encourage them to help other people and how to have confidence in themselves?

No, instead we have kids that are over-sensitized to their feelings. If a boy has a lot of energy and lashes out, he’s diagnosed with some disease like ADHD. We’re banning activities like Dodge Ball from gym class.

Articles are being written about how masculine values are being discouraged in today’s children and boys with physical energy are being repressed with no outlet.

Today’s boys don’t have any masculine heroes like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong, or Dwight Eisenhower. National Pride is at an all-time low. Athletes are well known for their steroid use (Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun), bad behavior (Terrell Owens, Michael Vick, Carlos Zambrano), or extreme behavior (Shaun White, Dennis Rodman).

Kids are using their imaginations less and less. Instead they’re plopped in front of Satellite TV with 300 channels and given iPods and tablets which bombard their senses with non-stop colorful graphics and sound. There’s studies that show that kids who are overexposed to touch screens at a young age lack the fine motor skills to use building blocks.

The government replaced decades old tried and true methods to teach basic math skills to our children with “Common Core” skills that puzzle parents. Its so bad, that the entire state of Indiana has withdrawn from the curriculum.

No child is ever left behind, even when it might be in the child’s best interest. Everyone gets a trophy and kids aren’t taught how to learn from failure, or to cherish the thrill of victory. It goes on and on…

So, what does any of this have to do with the Boy Scouts?

No organization is perfect, including the Boy Scouts. I think the whole ban on gay scout leaders is a travesty, but it’s a travesty that adults care about. Ask your average 7 year old boy what they think is an important quality in a scout leader, and I doubt that any of them will tell you that having sex with a woman is one.

Going back to the Scout Law, trustworthiness, helpfulness, being friendly, or being courteous are all the things that I think should be in a scout leader, and last I checked, gay people can be all of those too.

But no, most adults out there are taking up this issue because it’s something THEY care about. What they’re doing though is preventing these kids from all of the great things about being a Boy Scout and what else they can learn. Like I said earlier, the whole thing about homosexuality is not what kids take away from scout meetings. There are SO many great lessons and life-long friendships that kids will miss out on the more we boycott Boy Scouts.

Society is so focused on ‘equality’ no matter what the consequence, that we’ve already done a lot of damage to the lines of what it means to be a boy or a girl. Its only going to get worse.

Should we still continue to grow as a society and change outdated beliefs about sexual preference? Absolutely.

Should that come at the consequence of stripping our children of the opportunity to learn how to tie a square knot or how to set a leg splint? Absolutely not!

I think the ban on gay scout leaders is dumb, but it’s a minor issue that rarely effects the kids themselves. The overwhelming majority of what Boy Scouts teach is good and we shouldn’t be turning our backs on it, especially with nothing comparable out there.

Many people agree that family values are lower than they have ever been in the past. Kids need someone to teach them respect, courage, and bravery and until there’s a better option, I’ll still support them even with their stupid rule.

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