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Boy Scouts Blazing a Better Trail Towards LGBT Acceptance

Boy Scout SealGrab your field guide and your penknives! Strap on your knapsack and shiny canteen. Pull on those white, knobby-knee revealing khaki shorts, America, because a-scouting we will go!

Last year, the Boys Scouts of America loudly proclaimed their intentions to continue to ban gay people from participating in their programs. It seems that change is happening, right before our eyes, in a relatively short time, on issues related to fighting bigotry.

Good people pushed back. Activism is really just good thinking stated out loud, and it creates change. Change like this is happening so fast now because we can hear other good people’s thoughts and calls to action by reading them on the Internet.

The BSA announced that they are on their way to removing the national policy ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders, leaving the decision about inclusion to local packs. From the New York Times:

“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents,” said a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith, in a statement. “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

Scout officials gave no timeline for making a formal decision, or for putting the policy into effect, but a spokeswoman said in an e-mail that discussion was anticipated at next week’s national executive board meeting. Board meetings are private and closed to the public and the news media, she said.

It’s only a step in the right direction, but it’s a strong, certain, public step.

This is happening because parents said “this is wrong” and because outcry rallied other parents to uncomfortable awareness while becoming a PR and funding nightmare forcing reconsideration by the Boy Scouts of America.

It is happening because of parents like Sarah Braesch of Sarah and the Goon Squad, who spoke out by writing Why, Boy Scouts, Why?:

 What seems wrong is that the Boy Scouts say that “focus is on reaching and serving youth to help them grow into good, strong citizens.” Well, how can we do that when we are teaching them policies of intolerance? That doesn’t make sense to me.

And because of parents like Morgan Shanahan of The 818 who wrote in Boy Scouts, You Are Wrong:

We MUST teach our children tolerance.  BSA is displaying out and out bigotry and appalling doesn’t even cover it.  Given, my daughter doesn’t stand to lose friends and an opportunity for valuable life experience based on my conviction, but I feel very strongly that I wouldn’t support an organization with such a policy in any way.

And because of parents like Elizabeth McGuire of Peace, Love and Guacamole, who wrote in Scout’s Honor:

My husband and I had been quietly discussing our options and had finally decided we were done justifying, done shaking our heads, done waiting for new leadership to bring compassion and common sense to the 102-year-old organization. Though we found our local den and troop open-minded, we couldn’t support the narrow-minded policies from the national level. Our conclusion? Our family was quitting scouts.

When the Boy Scouts put this new policy into place, all of the good people who had hard conversations with themselves, their spouses, their children, their social media circle, all of these people can share share the victory news as a living example of what happens when you speak out about injustice. Standing up to bullying, bigotry or oppression can make even the most staid institutions pause and re-think. It can create real change when we simply say “something is seriously wrong if all people are not welcome here.”

I’m looking forward to celebrating that new policy. Looks like a celebration is perfectly timed with the annual fundraiser for a GOOD organization I’ve long felt great about supporting: it’s almost Girl Scout Cookie Time.  Maybe someday soon the Boy Scouts will catch up with the Girl Scouts on issues of anti-oppression, LGBT inclusion and overall radness. In the mean time, I’ll happily share my Thin Mints with the BSA. They are moving forward, and that’s a good thing.

Updated: The Boy Scouts are accepting public opinion comments as they consider changing this policy before February 6. You can call or email them to tell them you are FOR changing the policy at:  972-580-2330 /nationalsupportcenter@scouting.org


 

 

Check out some of my other posts on Babble Voices: 

Parents as Gender Warriors

Gay Marry Me: We’re on the Right Side of History

Watching Gay Parents on The New Normal

Coming Out with Anderson and Megan

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