Well, what everyone had been expecting the last two years has finally happened, Robert Gates, the President of the Boy Scouts of America and former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, announced that Scouts should drop its ban on gay Scout leaders. Go to 8:40 of the video.
I thought back on my reaction which was to quit Scouting and look for other organizations. I asked my son, who as 11 at the time, what he thought and he did not want to quit as that what he liked and didn’t understand why I would be thinking that. I did explain my rational to him, based on my religious beliefs and that that a Scout should be ‘morally straight’. I looked up what the definition of morally straight was and this is what the Boy Scout Manual says:
…and morally straight. “To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”
So does that exclude homosexuality? It may very well and I suppose open to interpretation.
We also talked at our Troop Committee and the Scoutmaster response was, “we have had closest gay Scouts before and the kids knew how to deal with it”. He didn’t mean that an a vindictive way, rather giving the kids that benefit of the doubt that they were mature enough to react to anything untoward appropriately. So based on what my son wanted and Scout leaders with much more experience than my own, we hung in there.
There wasn’t a mass exodus from our Troop, in fact I am aware of no one that left. As well, I didn’t see any influx of gay Scouts. So being that we as adults have more than likely worked around gay people, I think we know how act.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not simply defending what President Gates did, but I understand why he did it. The truth is, Boy Scouts has suffered from the cutback in funding as a result of its membership policy. Even in our Council, the Boy Scout Camp, which is next to the Girl Scout Camp is dilapidated compared to the much newer and nicer Girl’s one. So hopefully if the policy changes and we do get the money to renovate those facilities which will benefit our program.
So in closing, Boy Scouts like the country as a whole is changing. I know most of us that grew up with more traditional values, lament that fact. Our schools, our politics and our society has changed a lot. But the important thing to remember here is, keep the focus on the kids and the program. Make Scouting the best it can be, and the let the rest take care of itself.