Thursday, February 7, 2013

Boy Scouts and Gays

The Boy Scouts of America have delayed a decision on admitting gay boys and leaders into the organization. There have been strong opinions on either side of the question. Here are mine:

First, I was both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout. I have been a Cub Scout den leader, Cub Master, and den leader trainer. I have been an Assistant Scout Master and Charter Organization representative for two sponsoring organizations. Both of my sons are Eagle Scouts. So I write with some experience and perspective.

Boy Scout troops, and Cub Packs to a lesser extent, reflect their Charter Organization, the church, school, or service club that sponsors the troop, plus the attitudes of their adult leaders. The national Boy Scout organization has its rules; the local units pretty much ignore them in their day-to-day operations. My nephew grew up in a Boy Scout troop on an Army base. His unit was like some paramilitary organization; nothing I'd want my sons in. We had troops in town that clung to the fundamentalist precepts of their sponsoring churches. My sons grew up in troops that were more relaxed and focused on boys having fun and growing into responsible men.

Were there ever gay boys in our units? Certainly. Did that create problems? Never. Did any of our gay boys ever earn and receive the Eagle Scout rank? Of course. There never was an issue, and as far as I know no Eagle Board of Review ever asked a boy about his sexual identity.

I'm not aware of ever having a gay leader in one of our units. Almost all of our leaders were parents, but that is no guarantee, of course. The units never worried about that issue. What we did worry about was having a pedophile associated with the troop, and did refuse the application of one young man on well-founded suspicion.

So my two cents worth is: let the sponsoring organizations decide for themselves. The boys will find a troop that meets their and their families' values. They already do that, anyway. It can be a great experience for boys.


  1. I agree that each troop should decide for itself. My husband (also an Eagle Scout) was in a troop that almost never wore uniforms but were great in camping and Indian lore. I doubt he'd have stayed in one of the quasi- military troops.

  2. Before the troops can decide their own policy, there has to be a national one.
    My Scout background is very much like yours and I completely agree with your points.
    I think there are two problems here. One, whether right or wrong, people are tired of this issue, gay rights, always being pushed in there face.
    Two, if more parents actually participated with their kids in these events and organizations, there would be more oversight and less chance for problems.
    I know our meeting were just babysitting for parents night out sometimes for a few.
    Once again the masses have to deal with something created by the few. (Did Churchill say that.)

    Thanks for your post.

  3. Very well presented Jim. I'm definitely in favor of sponsoring organizations making that decision.