I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found out that my kid would not be welcome as a Boy Scout.
I knew that there would be places and people along the way that could pose issues for my child from having been born to same-sex parents. I had done my homework. It was only after a lot of research, thought, prayer, self-torture that I decided to have children by an anonymous sperm donor. As my children began growing up, I prepared myself and them for the day that we might be ostracized. And now, at the ripe age of 6 1/2, the day is here: My son wants to be a BoyScout.
I knew before I had children that being in the Boy Scouts was a likely no-go because of their (shockingly legal) stand on gay people. What I didn’t account for was that my son would want to be a Boy Scout so badly that I’d have to consider foregoing my own moral standards, and consider my son’s desire to be part of an organization that discriminates against his parents.
If you don’t know the back-story, here’s the brief recap: In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled (Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale) that The Boy Scouts of America was a private organization and could set whatever criteria they wanted for their membership. Today, the organization legally prohibits Atheists, Agnostics and Gay people. The organization fought to uphold the right to ban and refuse membership to any of the above. The ruling stands today.
My son is the grandchild of two Eagle Scouts who, by all accounts with the exception of faith, follow the Boy Scout creed and, indeed, are two of the most moral people I have ever known. To follow in their footsteps would be a great honor and my son believes with all of his heart that he will grow up to be like his granddads and obtain the very special honor of Eagle Scout. My first question was to my step dad who told me that the national organization had little to do with the local troops — it was all about the scout master and not about the politics. He might be right.
When I contacted our local troop leader, she replied with the following:
“ Pack *** is a family centered group, our focus and concern is with the child and welcome any boy wanting to participate in scouting. Our Pack does not discriminates against anyone due to their color, race, or religious practices. We encourage active participation of all family members regardless of what makes up a scouts family. We do not address private, personal, or political issues at the pack level. That is not our focus, again, the scout is our focus and concern. I hope to see your son there and look forward to meeting you.”
This gave me great hope, and I planned a date to take my son to his first meeting. That was until I was sent the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Bylaws, which states:
“We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed and homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”
With that creed in-tow, a two-mom family’s son was kicked out of boy scouts in Vermont in 2009. It was followed by a deep decline in membership and loss of sponsorship including the United Way, director and Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg, Levi Strauss, Chase Bank and CVS. Entire states withdrew annual contributions. Religious organizations including the United Church of Christ, the Secular Coalition of America, and the Unitarian Universalists all issued statements indicating that any form of discrimination was against the teachings of Christ.
Despite all of this support, I remain confused about our decision about whether or not to allow our son to participate in Boy Scouts. I never want my child deprived of anything because of my personal choices. My partner and I talked about what to do. Do we want to roll the dice and allow him to participate, knowing that he could get kicked out? Should we try and divert efforts to something like Adventure Guides, the YMCA version of Boy Scouts? I have friends who have refused to be a part of Boy Scouts because it discriminates openly; are we hypocritical if we don’t follow suit?
Last week we sat down with our boy and explained to him the basic facts as cleanly and with as little opinion as we could muster. After he told us that he would karate chop anybody that didn’t like his two moms, he told us simply, “I want to go for it anyway. I know they could kick me out.”
The decision is here, yet I’m unable to make it without reservation. The Boy Scout law states that: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” Oh, the hypocrisy — if only the Boy Scout organization acted with the same vigor of their Law, then my son could have the chance to follow in the footsteps of their granddads and be an Eagle.