I saw this headline in my inbox today.
I’m sure someone will ask what I think about this, and I’m sure someone else, assuming I agree with them, will complain about the possibility of gay scout leaders or gay scouts (News Flash: there have already been plenty of both, I personally know that for a fact).
Just to be up front, I was a Cub Scout for about 3 weeks. Not having a Dad in my life, my pinewood derby car was basically a log with tacky paint and wheels that wouldn’t roll. Everyone else’s cars (I’m sure it’s still the same today) were obviously made by their Bob Villa fathers. They were awesome, and I was shamed and angry and never went back.
So I’ve never been a scout, but I’ve known people for whom the scouts did wonderful things and I hope that continues.
Back to the question (and if my answer bothers you and makes you think I’m some over the top liberal, please go back and reread it again because I’m not).
If the headline turns out to be true, I think it’s a good thing. In fact, I’ve had a big problem in the past with the scouts excluding gay people- often on the nasty, inaccurate insinuation that all gay people are pedophiles. I’ve always been bothered that my denomination, by sponsoring scout troops, has condoned- or at least never challenged- what I think is discrimination, and this policy has been the primary reason my wife and I won’t allow my own children to join the scouts- to be fair, my wife, whose character is 100% better than mine, has made sure we didn’t buckle.
It’s not that the scouts wouldn’t be good for them; it’s that opting my kids out is the only means we have to express our family’s disapproval.
Back to the ‘I’m not a liberal’ point.
We’re talking about the scouts. We’re not talking about church, marriage, ordination, scripture or theology.
The scouts (despite what some presume) are not a Christian or even religious organization. Just as it seems ludicrous and discriminatory that a gay man or woman would be excluded from coaching my sons’ swim team, it seems prejudicial to exclude them from leading a scout troop, den, pack or what have you. I mean, why don’t we just make them drink from separate water fountains too?
Sincere, faithful people can argue about what the bible teaches about homosexuality.
Sincere and faithful people can debate what should constitute Christian marriage.
And every church tradition must sort out its understanding of calling and ordination. I get that, and my own position is always in flux as I listen to friends on both sides.
But the scouts is a different issue entirely.
For me, it comes down to two questions:
Are all gay people predators from whom we must protect our children? Only a monster who knows only a caricature of ‘gay people’ would argue in the affirmative.
Can children learn from gay people as mentors, leaders, and role models in their lives? Since I have myself benefited from the wisdom and friendship of such people, my conscience requires me to answer yes.
And back to my experience as a Cub Scout. This was me: misfit kid with a gossiped about Dad from an unconventional family who slipped through the cracks of the scout masters’ attention and concern. I’ve got to wonder. Had the ban been lifted decades ago might there have been a leader who also knew what it was like to be a misfit, gossiped about, or from an unconventional family? And might he or she have noticed me?