[Edit: Warning, this post is kind of political. Sorry bout it.]
Hey Boy Scout Leaders.
I know you’re in the news again and you’re probably kind of nervous for what’s to come. In case you didn’t know, or forgot, this is what I’m talking about. Basically, in the face of public criticism, fleeing corporate supporters, and eventually even the word of the President, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are meeting this week to reconsider their ban on gays in Scouting.
This comes just less than a few months after a secret panel of super Scouts met for a few days, then came back to decide “yeah, we still don’t want gays hanging out with us”. This decision naturally pissed a lot of people off, especially the ones who realized that being gay wasn’t actually as big a deal as everyone thought in the past. People yelled and companies flinched, realizing they were giving big donations to an organization that all of a sudden was no longer liked by their customers. This chain reaction all eventually led to where we are now, with the leaders nervously looking around and realizing they might be on the wrong side of history.
I want to step in here to formally give my opinion to the BSA.
I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve been in Scouting for a number of years and did all the cool shit that went along with that. I’ve shot guns, climbed mountains, learned to survive with just a knife and tin foil, canoed in Canada, backpacked in New Mexico, gone to numerous summer camps, and picked up more than a few merit badges.
Scouting is the shit.
It’s also built around a generally solid list of principles: treat yourself well, treat others well, respect nature, that kind of stuff.
Given all the emphasis the BSA places on community service and helping others, it baffles me that they still think that there is a boogeyman in gay people that needs to be kept away. I know the BSA is an inherently religious organization, but it’s also 2013. The world’s moved on quite a bit in the 103 years since your creation.
The problem roots itself with the Scout Oath, and the bit of hypocrisy they manage to drag into it. The Oath ends with the lines “To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”. The last two words are the ones that everyone keeps referring to as their evidence that Scouts shouldn’t allow gays to their ranks, missing the entire first part where they’re supposed to help people and be kind at all times. Yeah the Bible says “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (in something called the Great Commadment. Sounds important.), but it also mentioned in passing that you shouldn’t lie near other men.
What if the Bible said “thou shalt not buy foreign cars (carriages? wagons?)”? Would you be a bad person for owning a BMW? A heathen with a Honda? A sinner with a Saab?
Of course not, that’s just my preference in cars and freedom. I like Japanese cars, and that’s what I’m going to buy.
Or maybe it’s not even your choice. Maybe your parents bought you that car, and it really means a lot to you. You didn’t choose that car, but there’s no way you’re going to sell it to appease this book.
Sometimes books need to be updated. There’s like 12 different things you can do to earn instant death by stoning but we’ve moved past those. Maybe we can look over some of the other little parts too.
My 20-year old software textbooks are no longer relevant to modern software systems, why are we expecting a 2000-year old storybook to be relevant to a modern society?
Besides, have the people making this decision ever been around gay people? If I showed them a large crowd of random people, could they pick out the gay ones?
Of course not, there is literally nothing different about them. They’re sneaky like that.
I have straight friends who would blend right in on San Francisco’s Castro Street, and I have gay friends who play water polo and could kick the ever-loving shit out of you. There is no set archetype on what a gay or straight person is, and the only way you’ll be able to truly tell is if you ask them. Somehow that gets lost in the controversy about “upholding traditions”.
So Boy Scouts of America, it’s time to do the right thing. Drop this rule. Open the gates and let everyone in.
I know you talk about not wanting to alienate your more conservative members, but really, you’re better off without them. If losing them means that kids will get the chance to explore the outdoors without being told that their moral fiber hinges on where they stick their junk, then I’m all for this new Scouting organization.
You’re an awesome program. Everyone should join, just for the chance to experience all the things in nature that you probably will never see otherwise.
Sac up and put your big boy pants on. It’s time for a little bit of equality up in here.