My shame at having been a Boy Scout

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From the Associated Press, July 17, 2012:

After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, ruling out any changes despite relentless protest campaigns by some critics.

An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” the organization’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press.

Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion — preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since…

Since 2000, the Boy Scouts have been targeted with numerous protest campaigns and run afoul of some local nondiscrimination laws because of the membership policy.

One ongoing protest campaign involves Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio mother of a 7-year-old Cub Scout who was ousted as a Scout den mother because she is lesbian.

Change.org, an online forum supporting activist causes, says more than 300,000 people have signed its petition urging the Scouts to reinstate Tyrrell and abandon the exclusion policy. The petition is to be delivered to the Scouts’ national headquarters in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday.

I wish there was some way to officially renounce one’s former membership in the BSA and have it mean something. Certainly if I were a public figure, I would. It’s the only hate group I’ve ever been a member of, though of course I didn’t know it then. And, hey! world!, here I am renouncing it now. I got a lot out of my Boy Scout (and Cub Scout) experience, but this is far more important.

I will say that one of the guys in my troop — a good friend of mine in school, as well — was, in retrospect, as gay as a person can be at 12 or 13; though at that time and place my gaydar wasn’t working. And it would have made no more difference than than it does now.

Also, though the Boy Scout Oath mentions “God” and one vows to keep “morally straight” (along with “physically strong” and “mentally awake”) religion was never forced on our little group; and I don’t think they meant “straight” in the sense of “not gay.” At least that’s how I read it.

The Scout Motto is “Be prepared.” But not, it appears, for the 21st century.

* * *

Maybe it’s just that I was raised right, though by example rather than having the Golden Rule (that’s what we’re talking about, ultimately), lectured at me. In 1957, I attended a Boy Scout National Jamboree, held in Valley Forge, PA. A bunch of us boarded the train in Los Angeles and took the scenic route, stopping in various cities along the way and back. In New Orleans, someone — one of the scoutmasters, clearly — decided that what our bunch of rowdy early teenagers would really appreciate wasn’t a po’ boy, muffaletta,  or even gumbo, but a dinner at Antoine’s, then and now one of New Orleans’ oldest and fanciest restaurants (hell, they still serve baked Alaska!).

. It being the deep South in 1958 (as it would be for several more years), one of the scoutmasters — a black man; from, as I recall, Santa Monica — wasn’t allowed to enter the restaurant, let alone dine with the whites. A few of us decided we’d rather eat somewhere else, too. Several others decided to honor local custom. I don’t recall any discussion of what was “right”; just that various of us had different opinions of what that might be.

Eventually, and with a bit of prodding, much of the rest of the country came around.

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One comment on “My shame at having been a Boy Scout

  1. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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