This post is the second open letter that I have written involving the Boy Scouts of America since Mothers of Brothers launched in May of 2008. The first, written in October of 2010, railed against the annual popcorn sales that our sons were subjected to – the product was embarrassingly overpriced and the kids were set up to fail miserably. It is one of MoB’s most commented-upon posts; the latest affirmation coming just last week by yet another commenter who was outraged by the prices. Clearly, I hit a nerve. But, in the grand scheme of things, it was a small nerve compared to where I feel I need to go with today’s post.
I do not like conflict or confrontation. I rarely put forth my political beliefs here at MoB or on Facebook. But yesterday I came across this article which told of a Maryland-based Boy Scout troop that had to retract a non-discriminatory pledge they had voted upon after being threatened with losing their recognition by the regional council. Specifically, they were forced to remove the reference to not discriminating against children or families based on sexual orientation. Apparently, this honorable statement was not in line with “the quality and integrity of the Boy Scouts of America.” I wanted to vomit. And then I felt a wash of relief that we are no longer part of this organization.
Noah was never in scouts, and Chase left the program with our full encouragement in 2010. But there are many boys who still remain part of this organization, despite its recent despicable history of discrimination and bullying. My letter is to their parents.Dear Thoughtful Parents of Wonderful Boys: I am reasonably certain that when you signed your little guy up for Cub Scouts, your good intentions mirrored mine. It was an excellent early social opportunity within your community comprised of like-minded families who wanted the best for their kids. As a Scout, your son would learn valuable, life-long skills – fire starting, knot tying, good deed doing, and the like. All his friends were signing up. The pack meetings were fun. As you looked around, you saw your neighbors and your boy saw his classmates. And the opportunities to get involved were plentiful. Perhaps someday, he would make Eagle Scout! It was one of the activities he enjoyed the most; it was as wholesome as you could possibly want. All of these sentiments were good and honorable and true. But as parents of Boy Scouts, we can no longer pretend that our sons are not part of a group that emphatically discriminates and hurts children by asserting that gays are bad people. And that by joining the Boy Scouts, you are endorsing that position. Maybe you aren’t the “bully” that is inflicting all the pain, but you are sure as hell a bystander, watching it all go down and clapping along. It doesn’t matter how far away you are from the national organization; you are a part of the hate. Every kernel of popcorn you sell, every camping trip you take, every badge your child earns is awash in this discrimination. I would expect support for the BSA from homophobes and small minded folk, but here’s the thing: I know many parents who support gay rights AND have scouts, usually with the rationalization that “our troop isn’t like that” or “this is important to my son and there is no other option out there.” So I have to ask you, if your troop isn’t like that, why don’t you form your own group that doesn’t discriminate? Same people doing the same activities, just under a banner of respect and equality? How hard could this be? Call it something else. Be something better. If the Boy Scouts of America, discriminated against Blacks or Jews or Catholics, would you still let your son belong? You would be embarrassed to admit you were a part of a group that did that, right? So why aren’t you embarrassed now? You can’t support gay rights and support the Boy Scouts. It’s one or the other. Parents, you have the right to raise your sons any way you see fit. But if you believe in equality, it’s not okay to immerse your child in a program that spits in the face of respect for all. There is nothing honorable about hate. Telling our sons that they are not allowed to be Boy Scouts because the organization discriminates against gays – and that is WRONG – is a conversation my husband and I are proud to have. We will gladly take them camping, gather their friends for activities, and teach them how to start campfires and tie knots. We will teach them the meaning of good deeds and the value of serving the community. We don’t need to enlist the Boy Scouts of America for that. Because they are, in fact, failing horribly at raising boys who share our values. The price of the popcorn is not the only aspect of the Boy Scouts that is far too high. The cost of their discrimination is exorbitant and it’s time we stopped buying into their hate. It’s time for all of us to quit the Boy Scouts and teach our sons what honor truly means. Sincerely, A Mother of Brothers