Thursday, February 7, 2013
Boy Scouts and Gays
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.