…even when the tide seems against him.
Coming home from our trip to St. Louis, I’ve been slowly going through the mail and came across the May/June issue of Scouting, the magazine for scout leaders. There was an article inside that looked interesting and on my way to finding it I came across the editor’s Trailhead column entitled “A Family Discussion.” It pertained to the proposed policy change in the Boy Scouts of America that has been on our minds ever since the media bomb dropped in February. The article described how the three main executives of Scouting were trying hard to listen to all sides, understand all views, and “not [push] Scouters to take one side or the other.” This policy change discussion apparently came about because “many unit-level volunteers weren’t aware of the policy barring openly gay Scouters and Scouts.” I’m a little surprised at this because the Boy Scouts have had the same standards for about a hundred years, more or less, and the membership policy is pretty easy to find.
I waded through the plan of action proposed in the article, still wryly bemused by all the “family” jargon, feeling uncomfortable with all the platitudes assuring us that “nothing has been decided,” yet at the same time, we can basically agree to disagree, and “we owe it to [the boys and girls involved in Scouts and Venture] to lay aside our preconceived notions and come to the table with one ultimate goal–doing what is best for the youth we serve.” We’re reminded, and rightly, that a Scout is respectful and courteous.
However, a Scout is also honest. Despite all the reassurances of “A Family Discussion,” our leaders in and of our district found out about the proposed policy change in February the same way we did–on the daily news headlines. If this is really a family discussion, it would have been better to discuss it with the family before enlisting the media. According to the media, the discussion is over, and it’s plain to see which side it is that the media is pushing Scouters and Scouts to take.
Also the editor fails to bring up another rather important aspect of this discussion that we learned through the media: the fact that big sponsors and donors of the BSA have vowed to cut funding if the BSA maintains its current policy. That should enter into this family discussion, shouldn’t it? Because I would like to know what was more of a catalyst in this sudden backpedal of last year’s policy reaffirmation–the volunteers’ complaints or the cold hard cash flow? Or are we just afraid of being called names? Afraid of the ‘bigot’ label?
That certainly adds a sour note to the discussion.
The BSA is being bullied right now, quite frankly. If the answer is to give into the bully, then the executives are not sending the right message to the boys under their leadership. That’s no way to teach our sons to be men.
A Scout is Brave.
All statements in quotation marks are directly from the May/June issue of Scouting.