A Letter to Boy Scouts of AmericaBeth Anne Ballance
Today I sit here with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat, remembering how you shaped me even though I’m a girl and even though most of my time in your organization was spent with pigtails and my mother. The camping trips where I learned to make s’mores before I could join my own Girl Scout Troop, which became a highlight of my childhood memories. All the Tuesdays nights I spent playing My Little Ponies on the sidelines while my mother acted as Cub Scout Leader for my big brothers. I could recite the pledge before I could recite my bedtime prayers.
I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack. The Cub Scout follows Akela. The Cub Scout helps the pack go. The pack helps the Cub Scout grow. The Cub Scout gives goodwill.
How you break my heart as I read those words alongside press releases and news articles and wonder where we went so wrong.
Do your best. I have seen you at your best, building men out of boys. Teaching them to plan and be brave and strong leaders. Leadership that is fair, with the betterment of society always in mind. This week, you announced that you will continue to emphatically uphold the decision to ban homosexuals from your organization. This is discrimination at it’s worst, overtly telling young men that they are not good enough, not man enough, and certainly not welcome in a long-standing tradition of our society.
Do your duty to God. The real God that is in the streets of a city and the hearts of young men, who tells us to love and be loved and leave the rest up to Him. Your duty is to God, not to act as God on moral issues.
To help other people. Do you realize the opportunity you missed? The chance to welcome boys that may feel lost and confused and alone, to give them a pack where they can be accepted and grow with other men?
The pack helps the Scout grow. Do you see what you could have done for reducing shame, depression, or even suicide by giving these young men a safe haven? Or the education & acceptance that might have occurred for the other boys that don’t quite yet understand?
The Cub Scout gives goodwill. Extend that goodwill in friendship and membership. Show that goodwill is deserved by all men, all people, that none are excluded from this basic human right.
It aches inside because for so long, I held scouting on such a high pedestal and dreamed of the day my own young boy would salute with two fingers, then three and maybe even have an eagle pinned to his shirt. I don’t know yet what this continued decision means for my family and I don’t know what it means for me, but I think about my little boy and how I would love him no matter what and it hurts me that the entire world may not say the same. It hurts me that the place I found the most acceptance, the place where I found myself, is the place that may turn away my own child one day.
With a heavy heart,
photo credit: daveblume
More from BA: