Fix Opinion

Scouts Must Do Their Duty And Accept Gays

Boy Scout Oath
 
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.
 
By Eli
Winter
Reporter
And Isaac
Winter
Junior
Reporter
HOUSTON, Texas,
U.S.A. – As former Boy Scouts, we know the Scout Oath by heart, but over our
six years spent in scouting, its meaning faded for us.
Many other boys don’t
have the choice we did whether  to put on
the Boy Scout uniform – the tan Scout shirt, the muddy olive green Scout pants –
or have a chance to say that Oath themselves.
The Boy Scouts of
America recently announced that they would review their long-standing policies –
unwritten rules to some – forbidding gay boys from becoming members, and gay
men or lesbians from becoming adult leaders.
At first this may
seem a breath of much-needed fresh air for the Boy Scouts, who have seen their
membership dwindle during the last few years, in part because of these
discriminatory policies.
But then you realize
– it’s not enough.
The Boy Scouts have only said they will consider a
partial ban on gays joining the organization – partial because they would
delegate the responsibility of deciding whether or not gays can join to the
religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee local scouting
programs. That means allowing gays or not would be up to each individual
council, district or troop.
This idea may sound good in theory, but
there are some fatal flaws with the reasoning. The troops and area councils
could institute policies which would ban gays from joining that particular
troop or area council or district.
Some, obviously, wouldn’t do so,
welcoming gays happily, with arms wide open; some are more progressive than
others.
But there would still be those troops who
stopped gays at the door. Mormon troops, for example, could be among those
troops that would forbid entry to potential gay Scouts. According to The New York Times, every Mormon boy is
automatically enrolled in Scouting, and most participate.
Mormons account for a third of all Boy
Scouts, after all, and as such they have more clout than most Scouting sponsors
do.
We joined the Boy Scouts of America as Cub Scouts when
we were about eight years old, second graders in elementary school.
Being a Cub Scout was fun. We made Pinewood Derby cars,
went on camp outs and made many friends along the way. Then we bridged over to
Boy Scouts. We had a good time for a while, but as we learned that the organization’s
leaders wouldn’t change its policy and allow gays, we gradually had second
thoughts about being Boy Scouts.
If the Boy Scouts of America want to
increase their membership potential to its fullest extent, they should grant
full membership options to gay boys, men, and women, regardless of which
organization sponsors them, be it civic or through a church or other house of
worship.
Those on the more conservative side of
the spectrum might disagree with this, but we only grow more and more
progressive as time goes by. It wasn’t until 1974 when the NAACP sued the Boy
Scouts and as a result, the Scouts said they wouldn’t discriminate.
Asians had to start troops of their own
as they endured similar membership-related ordeals.
Now it’s difficult not to let Scouts of
all ethnicities join the ranks. While we come from a predominantly white,
Jewish troop, we have many friends of all ethnicities who are Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America is open to
all religions. It is not just Catholic or Protestant, not just Muslim or
Jewish. They let boys of every faith join. If they don’t care about which God
you believe in, then why do they care about who you’d like to marry?
There’s no reason why a boy of any
faith or race should not be given the choice to join the Boy Scouts and gays
deserve that same privilege.
We have a good friend who is a Boy
Scout and who is gay. He didn’t come out to his troop because of fears that he
would be forced to leave. No one should feel that kind of anxiety from doing
something they enjoy. No one deserves to feel that worry.
It doesn’t feel right to deprive a boy
of the chance to become a Boy Scout simply because they have a different sexual
orientation. It is a double standard.
To grant membership to boys who are
straight and not allow the same for gays is unethical, and is simply wrong.
The Boy Scouts of America are carrying
fire in one hand, water in the other.
Sadly, the Boy Scouts are considering
partially removing their ban on gays, yet they’ve said nothing of their
unspoken agreement to ban atheists and agnostics from the organization. Not all
troops follow this rule, and our troop was and continues to be on the
progressive side of the Boy Scouts of America, but it’s a policy that should be
entirely revoked.
Our growing conviction that the Boy
Scouts should open their ranks to gay boys played a major role in our decision
to leave.
The Boy Scouts could stand to take a
look at the Girl Scouts’ example. They desegregated their units fully before
the Boy Scouts did and in 1956, the great civil rights leader the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr. even called the Girl Scouts “a force for desegregation.”
They have programs, such as “Girl
Scouts Behind Bars” for girls whose mothers are in jail. The Girl Scouts also
welcome girls who are in juvenile delinquent programs and don’t discriminate
against lesbian members or leaders.
The Girl Scouts also allow girls to
substitute a word for “God” in their oath if they so desire.
They’re doing just fine.
The Boy Scouts,
meanwhile, have seen their membership decline for years. Reforming their
policies to make them more inclusive to all boys who wish to
join would make their members grow steadily.
After all, if the
two of us can have the chance to join the Scouts and walk away after a good six
years, our gay brothers should be allowed that same opportunity.