I’ve be a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America for over 10 yrs. I’ve served as a Den Leader, Webelos Leader, Pack & Troop Committee Chair and Secretary, and Unit Commissioner. I’ve served as a Trainer for adults and Den Chiefs. I have been on staff at Wood Badge (this will be my 5th year). I have been on staff at Family Camp and Trailblazers. None of my sons earned the Eagle Scout award, but what they got out of Scouting is even better.
I was a single mom with three sons when my Boy Scouting career came to be. There were no consistent adult males in their lives who could show them how to be excellent men. When we started in Scouting, my youngest two became a Webelo and a Bear. I knew nothing about the Boy Scouts, what was expected from us, what the structure was or anything. When we began, we had no “religion” (according to the Webelo leader) because we were Wiccan. The bulk of the leaders in our Pack were Catholic and had no idea how to work with that. But, the BSA policy said that they couldn’t ask us to leave because we did believe in a Higher Power and that is all that is required by BSA policy.
My sons were exposed to some excellent and not so excellent men. I would say however that because of this exposure, my three sons (teehee) have become excellent men themselves.
As I’ve already stated, over ten years ago, our family lived by Wiccan standards. We celebrated the seasons, prayed to the Goddess for guidance and protection and lived each day with the axiom “Do harm to none.” We accepted all people in our lives for who they were, both good and not so good. Everyone was welcome as far as I was concerned. Then of course it happened. Fast forward a few years and I met a man. One who exuded faith. You could see it in his countenance, he shined with it. We fell in love and he offered me the opportunity to share his faith. After over two years of investigating, I made the decision to accept Jesus as my Savior and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, it’s a big leap to go from Wiccan to Mormon, but I definitely have been a better person because of it.
The LDS church has used the Boy Scouts of America program for it’s young men for about a hundred years now. The units are run a little differently and I’ve had a hard time adjusting to it. When my sons became Boy Scouts, I did everything with them. Attended meetings, worked on merit badges, went camping, everything. Imagine my dismay when we went to our very first meeting at an LDS unit, I showed up with my son, I was in uniform and I got the most evil glare imaginable from the Scout Master. At the time, I had no idea that women did not work with the young men aged 12 – 18. Things went down hill from there. My oldest son had already aged out, my middle son joined a different community unit as a Venture Scout, by my youngest decided to stay with the LDS unit.
Eventually, my youngest quit going. I offered to help him find another unit, but Scouting just wasn’t what he wanted anymore. I do blame the leaders for not keeping the unit active, fun and a desirable place to be. The boys played basketball every Wednesday night instead of working toward the Eagle Scout award. I would have gotten bored too.
I continue to work in both the community units and LDS units. The community units are more successful for one main reason, passion. A leader in a community unit is there because they want to be. They volunteer. They are there for the good of the youth who they serve. It is that desire that makes the program in a community unit more successful. The leaders in an LDS unit are ‘called’ by their Bishopric to fill the leadership role. Now, I’m not saying that ALL LDS leaders lack a desire to serve youth through the BSA program. I’ve known quite a few that share the same passion as other volunteers. I’m one of them, I want the best the program has to offer to the youth I serve. However, there are many that don’t share that passion and the program and youth suffer because of it.
Now on to the newest issue, the BSA National Council has postponed the decision on a policy change that would allow people with different sexual orientation to be Scouts and Leaders.
So here is my opinion on that. I am LDS, however I still live by “ALL ARE WELCOME”. When I have a conversation with you, I don’t care who you are sleeping with, it’s just not important to me. When I go camping with you, all I care about is that you know or are willing to learn what to do in the wilderness. Again, who you are attracted too is not my concern. If you have a skill to teach that will help the youth I serve, what you do in the privacy of your own home (or literally out of sight of the youth) just doesn’t matter. I am also aware that homosexual does not equal pedophile.
Small note to all those concerned parents, church leaders and politicians, the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual males.
Should there be a policy change, the local councils will then have the decision to allow LGBT Scouts and Leaders to participate. It even goes deeper than that, each unit gets to make that decision. Each unit has a chartered organization (church, school, community agency), by receiving a charter from the Boy Scouts of America, the chartered organization agrees to conduct Scouting in accordance with its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the BSA. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/Relationships/TrainingtheCOR/03.aspx
Which means, that if it is against the chartering organizations policy to allow LGBT Scouts and Leaders, then they don’t have to, simple isn’t it?
Boys are boys, many love to hike, swim, tie knots and be prepared for life. The Boy Scouts of America and it’s programs for youth from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts to Varsity to Venturing to Explorers is an excellent way to give each youth who wants it the opportunity to gain skills in leadership, service and life skills.
How many more youth can be served by changing the policy? How many more chartering organizations can be gained by a change in this policy? How many more youth can grow, learn and be better prepared for what life has in store for them? How many more parents can know the joy I’ve known and have the satisfaction I’ve had by being a Scout leader? How many more youth can stop hiding who they are if this policy changes?
This is just my opinion. I actually grieve for those who can not participate because they happen to be gay. I grieve for that one boy, the one who is afraid to join because he knows he likes other boys. I grieve for that one parent who wants so much to participate in his son’s life, but can’t because his partner happens to also be male. I grieve for those who could get so much out of the Boy Scout program but are excluded because they are attracted to the same sex.
I know that there are hundreds of thousands who do not agree. There are many who site the line in the Scout Oath, “Morally Straight”. My morally straight perhaps is not the same as your morally straight, but that does not mean that we can’t find a common ground. It does not mean that the one boy who happens to be homosexual can’t work just as hard on his Eagle Scout as the boy who happens to be heterosexual.
If your interested, here are other points of view
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-cautions-against-speculation-on-scouting-decision
National Catholic Committee on Scouting. http://www.nccs-bsa.org/BSAComment.htm
The Inclusive Scout Network. http://www.inclusivescouting.net/media/press-releases/2013-02-06-statement-on-bsas-decision-to-postpone-any-action/
Episcopal Church http://www.scoutingforall.org/data/layer02/aaic/010202.html
United Church of Chirst http://www.ucc.org/news/commentary-boy-scout-policy.html