What Do You Think About The Boy Scouts Dropping The Ban On Gay Members?

Jason Micheli —  January 28, 2013 — 8 Comments

LUXEMBOURG ? Boy Scouts from Troop 69 Kaiserslautern, Germany, salute as the Star-Spangled Banner is played during a Veterans DaI 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?

Jason Micheli

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8 responses to What Do You Think About The Boy Scouts Dropping The Ban On Gay Members?

  1. So very well said and completely convicting! Thank you for helping me grow~

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Thank you for your post Jason, I couldn’t agree more. We need to take care of people rather than affix a label and pat ourselves on the back when we self-righteously exclude them. I have been a work in progress over the years and didn’t always understand that as well as I wish I had, but I am thankful that my eyes have been opened and I can see the truth as it is.

  3. Yes, I have nothing to add except thank you for expressing my thoughts so well.

  4. Very well said, much enter than I!

  5. Thank you for taking a stand and sticking to it. Very well said. I couldn’t agree more.

  6. I’m not “liberal” either.. but I too support the decision. I am not so arogant as to judge another person for their orientation, their faith or their convictions, especially since I don’t want to be judged for mine. I try to treat each person with kindness and respect and hope I will be treated likewise.. I am often disappointed but then …I am not so arogant as to judge.. 🙂

  7. Rick Hillenbrand January 31, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Jason:

    An interesting post. A few comments and (I prefer “though provoking”) questions for you if I may.

    So if the Boy Scouts of America (which includes many youth and adult females too) were to allow “… chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting” to “accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs” would you:
    1) Register your sons in Scouting (if not why not)?
    2) Not only accept, but advocate for Scouting, since it’s mission “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath(a) and Law(b).”

    If you find it so abhorrent that BSA does not presently allow openly homosexual members such that you won’t allow your children or yourself to associate with them, don’t you find that you are living in personal conflict since the United Methodist Church also does not permit homosexual leaders (The UMC officially will not ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals, nor does it condone same sex marriages. Ref: The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2012)? I find it odd that you won’t associate with one group, but are a leader in another group with similar stance.

    3) Knowing the UMC’s position on homosexuality, how would you advocate regarding the acceptance of homosexuals in the Scout unit that Aldersgate charters and is legally the “owner of?”

    By the way, while you correctly state that Scouting is not a religious organization (technically it is a youth organization), it does have a requirement for members to have a belief in God.

    Finally, rewording your own words a bit, must we must protect our children from all those who don’t think like them?

    I hope I haven’t offended or embarrassed you with these questions as it is not my intention.

    (a) On my honor I will do my best
    To do my duty to God and my country
    and to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong,
    mentally awake, and morally straight.

    (b) A Scout is:
    Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
    Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
    Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
    Brave, Clean, Reverent

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  1. How Are You Not A Liberal? | Tamed Cynic - January 30, 2013

    […] other day I posted my thoughts about the Boy Scouts reportedly changing their policy on gay scout leaders. In that post, I […]

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