Boy Scouts Still Embrace Discrimination

The pledges of the Boy Scouts of America to follow the nation’s laws and to befriend those who are different are increasingly at odds with the club’s continued rejection of gays and people who don’t believe in God, discriminatory policies that former Eagle Scout John LaForge protests.

By John LaForge

The camping and knot-tying club Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its discriminatory exclusion of about 10 percent of all boys — the gay ones — and of any out lesbians who volunteer as Cub Scout den mothers. The BS’s flagrant bigotry is rationalized and accepted, “unanimously” we are told, by its military-style leadership based in Irving, Texas.

BS policy, renewed in July, says, “we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” Sorry boss, but discrimination, homophobic bias and the avalanche of negative press distract from the mission.

Eagle Scout patch from the Boy Scouts of America

Today — after the U.S. military has ended its official policy of lying (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) which kept thousands of service members in permanent fear of outing and expulsion — a large group of Eagle Scouts are publicly disowning their awards and returning their medals in protest of the prejudice. If I could find mine, I’d happily add it to the pile of discards in Texas.

Ever since I accepted my patch from Minnesota’s Troop 22 in 1974, I’ve received an annual invitation to contribute to the Eagle Scout Banquet Fund. I reply to this request every year with an invitation of my own. I remind the BS that I will donate after first reading of a public renunciation of both the group’s official homophobia and its pious intolerance of non-religious free thinkers, and then only after I see in print a public apology to the GLBTQ and agnostic and atheist communities for Scouting’s long-standing discriminatory policies along with an new and open membership invitation to one and all.

While current and former Scouts have all promised to be “loyal,” as well as trustworthy, thrifty, helpful, etc., the group’s directed embrace of discrimination, as Sam Stites wrote in Willamette Week, begs the question: Loyal to the Texas Chain of Command, or loyal to the protection of constitutionally protected civil and human rights? The BS Oath’s pledge to be “Obedient” says clearly: “A Scout … obeys the laws of his … country” which today generally forbid discrimination.

While map reading and orienteering are two of the most interesting and challenging joys of scouting, the BS looks today like a Flat Earth Society claiming the sun revolves around us. While the country as a whole is embracing inclusion and respect of all people, BS executives in Texas have decided “to teach division and intolerance,” as Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said.

By its own definition of loyalty, the Oath says a Scout is “true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school and nation.” If this list is prioritized, it’s clear that Texas demands loyalty to its bizarre, archaic edicts before a Scout should think of his country or the law of the land. No. Scouts need to make a choice for fairness and inclusivity, even in the face of official BSA ignorance and paranoia.

The Oath says Scouts are to be Brave: “He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.” Reverent: “He respects the beliefs of others.” Kind: “He treats others as he wants to be treated.” Friendly: “A Scout is a friend to all. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.”

Until Texas gets it right, Scouts everywhere should follow their Oath and rebel. Every Scout in the country should refuse all further meetings, volunteer work, honors, contributions or fundraising until the commanders’ exclusionary bigotry is apologized for and made null and void.

Former Eagle Scout John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin.

 

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18 comments on “Boy Scouts Still Embrace Discrimination

  1. A Boy Scout is to be Obedient.

    The Germans in the 1930′s were people who in large part had learned to be obedient.

    • Macpappy on said:

      The Nazis were also a predoninatly homosexual organization.

      • If there was one distinguishing attribute which characterized the Nazis, besides unquestioning obedience to authority, it was the fear and hatred, and categorical and wholesale judgment, of people who are in some way “different”, and deeming such people to be less than human.

      • The Jews were not the only group of people marked for extermination. Critics of the Third Reich also had warrants for their arrest as well as homosexuals and other groups of people who did not fit with their philosophy. From what I have read about this time period. It is a blessing not to have lived in it.

      • Macpappy on said:

        I’m sorry, I meant the SS.

  2. Matt Palmer on said:

    Abort Texas, the Israel of the United States. Let them go. Start your own kid scout organistion. If they change the rules, refuse to play their game.

  3. Macpappy on said:

    In Texas we don’t care for perverts wanting to hang out with our kids. the Scouts know full well what the ulterior motives are. were the homos to have their way the Scouts would be little else than another YMCA public shower.

  4. Bernie Kuhlman on said:

    This is an inflammatory article of extreme left-wing nonsense that goes beyond the pale. The BSA is caught between polar opposite points of view, and finding the middle ground has been very hard for them. They cannot please the extremists on either side of this issue.

    Furthermore, no study shows that 10 percent of all American boys identify as homosexual — barely 5 percent would possibly say that they are “questioning” or bi-sexual. In any case, there are no documented instances of the BSA expelling youth members for sexual orientation, because the BSA actually avoids labeling anyone according to orientation (or anything else of similar nature, such as religious belief), and the Scout leaders want to include youth, not exclude them. The author would have you believe that tens if not hundreds of youth have been told to leave Scouting, but there are none you can name. The only people asked to leave Scouting are adults who openly advertise their homosexuality at Scouting meetings.

    This article is trash written by a man who has lost contact with Scouting and real-life situations. Hard to believe he is an Eagle Scout, because Scouts are supposed to be courteous and kind. If someone disagrees with BSA, fine — make your point in a thoughtful manner, not hyperbole, distortions, exaggerations, and out of this world comparisons.

  5. dahoit on said:

    Nambla approves this message.

  6. Donald Eckhardt on said:

    I have no problem with the Boy Scouts of America, as a private organization, discriminating against gays and freethinkers. But to substantiate that status: the BSA should renounce its Congressional charter; charitable contributions to the BSA should not be deductible from federal taxes; and public facilities should not be provided to the BSA at no cost – unless that is the policy toward all private groups.

  7. Bob Loblaw on said:

    It appears that among all my straight friends, the only ones who experimented with gay sex was on scout campouts.

    • Macpappy on said:

      Straight people don’t experiment with homosexual sex. That is another lie the homosexual community tells regularly.

  8. hARRY WAGNER on said:

    Scouting was organized to provide an association with other boys and leadership into the main stream of life in the formative years of youth …for many years it has been successful. it suffered some problems over the years, ie….during WW 2 the Nazi youth in uniform, one religious group wanted total control,and with the expansion of TV and high school athletics scouting loss membership.

    Whether gaye or perverted characters they have no place in the developing years of youth, Scouting is and has been a great character building neighborhood organization; for those who claim it discriminates against +/- 10% of population….form your own organization. scouting BSA, is a national and world wide organization for boys, organized around leadership at the neighborhood or church level. accept the code or go away.

    In the 74 years I have been connected with Boy Scouting I have never asked a boy if he was gaye or his religious preference. I have escorted gaye men who had shown up to get involved troop activities to the city limits and advised them not to return. however I have gaye associates that choose to associate in different surroundings than mine and this does not create any problems.

    My father was the first American to be actively involved in Boy Scouting from age 12 t0 65 and retirement, also established the first Boy Scout Council in the US. I have a vast amount of experience in Scouting from Troop 2, Camp OYO, as a Mayor of a Texas city, and Scouting with the Vietnamese in Vietnam 1966-1968.

    Conclusion: The American always wanting what they want and expect the 96% to change just for their 4%. What gaye or others do on their own time and turf I could care less; mine I care. I think Scouting will become more active as the world and USA adjusts to future economy conditions.

  9. First off, I think this idiot needs to look up the word Reverent. Second, the government says we, as a whole, have to respect the rights of these abnormal homos. If any normal person has the audacity to say anything at all about the gays we are labeled homophobic. Well, I am sick to death of these homos running around like a bunch of little school girls whinning about there rights. What about the rights of normal peaple who don’t want to see a couple of gays kissing in the mall while they are shopping with their kids? Scouting is the last hope for all the normal people in this country. I don’t have to worry about a couple of male leaders making out in front of my son. I am all for the BSA and its code. I was a Scout in my youth and now am a Scout leader. If the day comes that the BSA destroys itself the way the US Military has been destroyed by giving into the homos is the day that I leave the organization. And while it is obvious that the initial writer of this article is pro-homo, he is also VERY uneducated and obviously did not earn his Eagle award so it should not matter if he “gives it up”.

  10. It is my understanding that many of the “good” German people who went along with Hitler were also “REVERENT” as well as obedient. I.e. many were “good” Christians.

  11. Heather on said:

    Really? It’s a private organization … get a life and start your own organization. When you realize that forcing others to accept you is just as discriminating as them not accepting you, then you might finally realize the beauty of freedom.