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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Our most recent Cub Scout Pack meeting has left me in a state of shock, bewilderment and anger.
We were entreated by our pack leader, through several texts and emails, to be sure to be at this meeting for an important discussion. Almost all of our core group of parents were in attendance. The topic of conversation, we discovered, was whether gays ought to be allowed in Scouting. I was so glad that we were going to be talking about this, anticipating that we’d be joining together in a stand for equal rights and an end to hateful discrimination.
I was sorely disappointed.
I heard people say things that made me feel ashamed to be a part of this group.
“I stand by my morals,” said one person. “If gays are allowed in, then I’ll be out.” This is reminiscent of Boy Scout troops in the 1940s that threatened to leave Scouting and burn their uniforms if black Scouts were permitted. However, the consensus among our parents seemed to be that allowing gays into Scouting was “not a civil rights issue,” and completely different from discrimination against African Americans. Because, a parent said, “if they’re in that lifestyle, that’s their choice.”
What an antiquated and fragile rope they are trying to cling to, and using to support bigotry. Most people understand now that being gay is no more a choice than not being gay is. We are progressing, Pack 229. Not only do we need to understand that it is not immoral to be gay, Scouting should celebrate the fact that not all people are the same and that it’s our diversity that makes us strong.
“It’s in the Scout laws that gays aren’t allowed, and they know it going in,” was a sentiment expressed by more than one parent. Since it’s law that no open homosexuals are allowed to be involved in Scouting (as a parent of a Scout, a leader or a Scout himself), it was suggested and applauded that “if they want to be Scouts, they should just start up their own organization. Nothing’s stopping them from doing that.”
Doesn’t that sound a lot to you like “separate but equal?” Should gays have their own schools, too? Their own water fountains?
“It’s a tiny minority trying to change the whole organization for attention,” said one person, with a roll of the eyes.
Of course, some in attendance were more broad-minded. “I don’t have a problem with gay people,” expressed a parent, “as long as they don’t flaunt it.”
“If little Johnny brings two dads to a Scout meeting, that’s just inappropriate,” agreed another. “It’s fine if the parents are gay, but only one dad should come to the meeting. They’re used to that kind of thing, anyway. They should expect it.”
The people are perpetuating hateful intolerance. The Scout Law says that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Please explain to me how discriminating against gays in Scouting is friendly or kind? How is insisting that gay Scouts or leaders “keep it to themselves” encouraging them to be trustworthy? Many people at the meeting agreed that “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be in effect in Scouting. Do they not see that this is a step backward?
Perhaps there were other parents who agreed with me when I countered that this was indeed a civil rights issue, or when I said that forcing gay Scouts and parents to keep their sexuality hidden was wrong. If so, those voices were silent.
My son and I like Cub Scouts and the skills and activities Scouting provides. However, I cannot associate myself with a group of people who hold such shameful views. I hold out hope that other troops in the Roanoke area are more accepting of openly gay Scouts, and that the Boy Scouts of America will soon come to understand that the exclusion of a homosexual boy or parent from Scouting is a hateful practice to be left behind forever.
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