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  • Helping Scouts With Objections

    I was kinda hoping I wasn't the first to post along this line, but it has to be someone ...

    A dear friend approached me about a scout (age 17, on track for Eagle) who now wants to leave the BSA because of the changes in membership policy. I made myself available to talk to the boy. Being of the conservative ilk, I figured I could share with him (as I have with members of my crew who asked) why I'm not making plans to leave the BSA. If the meeting actually transpires, I'll let you know.

    In the meantime, I thought I would open a thread for anyone else who is now dealing with this. If you are now facing youth (of any age or sex) who have strong objections like this, how are you handling it?

  • #2
    Tell him that if he will only associate with people who agree with him 100% he will be very lonely in life. You have to take the bad with the good in most cases. There are all kinds of immoral behavior that we don't kick people out of scouting for...love the sinner, hate the sin, and so on.

    Comment


    • ThomasJefferson
      ThomasJefferson commented
      Editing a comment
      Being gay is not a sin. Being gay is at worst a birth defect, and at least a intermittent mutation among many animals as a response to stress during pregnancy or overcrowding. I mean mutation in the scientific sense, not the "gross! a mutation!" sense. Instead of continuing to teach children that gay people are bad people, why not just teach them the truth: Bigotry is a stupid, old-fashioned, outdated, foolish mindset that smacks of the uneducated rural folk missing teeth who fly confederate flags in their yards.

    • Scouter99
      Scouter99 commented
      Editing a comment
      Did you pick "ThomasJefferson" as your username for the humorous irony of your childish petulance being associated with that name?

    • AZMike
      AZMike commented
      Editing a comment
      As the real Thomas Jefferson wrote a bill that called for homosexual men to be castrated, your choice of a screen name is weirdly ironic.

  • #3
    If he's prepared to walk away from earning Eagle for his beliefs then tread lightly. Don't say anything that directly contradicts his belief system and do not, under any circumstances, call him a bigot.

    If you or he want to be cynical; if he makes Eagle before 1/1/14 then it will be under the old membership policy.

    Comment


    • ThomasJefferson
      ThomasJefferson commented
      Editing a comment
      Really?!? Are we going to say it is politically incorrect to tell someone they are acting like a jerk if they cloak it in faith. My personal faith in God teaches me to steal small electronics. Don't call me out on it. You are disrespecting my faith.

      Tip-toeing around what is wrong is not leadership.

      Let's also be clear that there is nothing faith-based about resentment of homosexuals. The same people citing obscure old testament verses for their beliefs are skipping over the ones that also condemn wearing of cotton, women serving as teachers, eating pork and other unclean animals (deer, anyone?) and a host of other things such as being required to stone your wife to death when she backtalks you.

      If the bigots in our society were some sort of retro-militant amish faction, I could see the faith-based argument if they tried to embrace the entire bible literally. But they don't. They ignore huge, huge swaths of it, and only adopt the parts they like. Then run around screaming, "The Bible says!" But you point out what else the Bible says, and they suddenly shake their heads and then say on those particular verses, you need master interpretation by a guru.

      In 1000 years there will be no religion among humans. I firmly believe we will one day outgrow superstition.

    • Huzzar
      Huzzar commented
      Editing a comment
      Your post is an excellent example of bigotry. Way to go...

    • King Ding Dong
      King Ding Dong commented
      Editing a comment
      TJ,

      That went a little over the top. You do a disservice to our viewpoint when you act just as bad as a televangelist.

      You may be right about a 1000 years from know but I doubt it. People are very uncomfortable with their mortality and will always seek peace with it. Science will never have all the answers to our existence and people want answers. Others provide those answers, I cannot disprove all of them nor do I want to. They may be right. Science does not have a solid explanation for something out of nothing.

  • #4
    Tell him that if he will only associate with people who agree with him 100% he will be very lonely in life. You have to take the bad with the good in most cases. There are all kinds of immoral behavior that we don't kick people out of scouting for...love the sinner, hate the sin, and so on.

    Comment


    • #5
      qwazse, I deleted your duplicate thread for you.

      Comment


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks sr540b! I had no clue this one took and was humming away. You are a super moderator!

      • Scouter99
        Scouter99 commented
        Editing a comment
        You missed the 2nd duplicate in the Working With Kids subforum.

    • #6
      You could tell him that BSA didn't start actively removing gay youth until the 1990s. As far as I can tell, before that, gay youth were only liable to removal if they engaged in sex acts during scouting activities. I base that on this quote from the 1972 Scoutmaster Handbook (the oldest one I have access to):
      "Sex Curiosity
      ...You may discover or hear about incidents of sexual experimentation among troop members. How should you handle such matters?
      ...Incidents of sexual experimentation that may occur in the troop could run from the innocent to the scandalous. They call for a private and thorough investigation, and frank discussion with those involved. It is important to distinguish between youthful acts of innocence, and the practices of a confirmed homosexual who may be using his Scouting association to make contacts. A boy of 15 of or so cannot be assumed to be acting out of innocence, and should be separated from the troop for the protection of younger boys..." (73-75)

      To me, that reads that even a boy who was known to be gay ("confirmed") could be a member without issue unless/until he engaged in sex acts with members of the troop. Frankly, regardless of national policy, that's pretty much the way 99.99% of troops have handled gay kids for the past 20 yrs, anyway. Your boy in question doesn't know that, so he thinks gay kids have always been outright barred regardless of whether or not they're acting inappropriately.

      The boy should also be made to understand that only recently have the vast majority of troops been chartered to churches. Before 2002, schools, police- and fire departments, military bases, juvenile detention centers, and even the Department of Housing and Urban Development chartered troops, but in 1998 the ACLU sued Chicago Public Schools, Housing and Urban Dev., and the military because when a gov't employee/agency required a boy to say the Scout Oath, he was forcing the boy to do his "duty to God" and that amounted to a breach of the first amendment. HUD, the military, and Chicago Schools all settled, the military holding out til 2002.
      At that point, rather than screw around with it anymore, BSA simply stopped issuing charters to gov't institutions, and those units were forced to move to churches, "Friends of XXXX" LLCs, civic institutions like Rotary Club or Moose Lodge, or even private businesses. Units currently meeting in schools are not chartered to those schools, they have a CO with no space, and a school that's willing to let them use its space.

      What this has amounted to is a drastic change in the demographics of BSA, to an institution cornered into churches, and no wonder more socially conservative than it used to be. It's easy for a 17-yr-old to misunderstand BSA as a religious institution; BSA was pigeonholed into churches before he ever entered Scouting.

      Comment


      • #7
        The same way I would address this with a family that was thinking about walking away...

        Pointing out that this really changes nothing, except that National is no longer forced to kick a boy out because of his orientation. That gay youth and adults have been here all along, and that they might even be friends with them, but don't know that they are gay. It sets things back to the way they were before the 1990's, when sexual orientation wasn't even part of Scouting.

        This really has no affect on the straight youth and families whatsoever, but keeps Scouting open for all youth that need what Scouting has to offer. They are not being asked to become gay (which might be against their religious beliefs), but to allow another youth to follow THEIR own beliefs. Its a matter of fairness, and who are we to say that these youth don't deserve Scouting. They are free to follow their own conscience with regards to their own beliefs, but that Reverence goes both ways. They need to respect other people's beliefs, as they would want their own to be respected.

        Comment


        • #8
          The first thing I would do is validate his feelings and his right to those feelings and emotions. He's not a bad kid just because his belief system isn't in line with popular culture. I would address that fact that the membership rules aren't changing until 1/1/14 so there's no need to make a rash decision at this point. I'd point out the value of the Eagle award and how by completing what he started he can be a guide for other like-valued youth. FWIW, I'll be having this discussion next weekend with parents of a couple of my Jamboree youth.

          Comment


          • #9
            I agree with dcsimmons, don't put him on the defensive. Listen to him. Ask him about his scout history. Is he proud of what he's done? Do the younger scouts look up to him? Is he a role model? Is he proud of his Eagle project? Read him an Eagle charge and ask him if that resembles him. When he gets to "yeah, but ..." have him read the first line of the Scout Oath. Ask him if he's doing his best to God and his country. All you can do is your best. There will always be people you disagree with. There will also always be people you agree with. You'll likely marry someone that you don't agree with all of the time, but you'll love her anyway. You do your best and focus on that.

            Comment


            • #10
              He's probably a pretty smart kid. He'll be able to tell pretty quickly that his Duty to God does not include turning away from people who need his leadership. He should know that the best way to show that his faith makes him strong is to be the best example of an Eagle Scout that he can be. He can see the inclusion of homosexual Scouts as something that undermines his explicit example of morality, or as something that makes his great implicit example of faith and leadership as more necessary. There is a need for Scouts that set great examples. and I can already guarantee that no Scout that makes sexuality central to their life can set as well of an example as a Scout that chooses not to be distracted by those things at that point in their life.

              Comment


              • #11
                I am glad folks are offering advice. I am stunned one or two are making this scout's belief systems out to be irrelevant. I have two scouts that have approached me. One was leaving based on religious beliefs, the other on a more prejudice belief. For the former I merely listened to him, discussed that the policy does not go in to effect until next year and noted that he does not have to agree with the policy to still be part of scouts. He responded as I expected and I respected that. Unlike Thomas Jefferson, I did not mock what he believes. I accepted his point of view and asked him to look at both sides. I told him if he walks away it should be a decision he takes time to think about because (due to his age) walking away will be permanent. For the latter scout, we discussed discrimination and how that affects society. We discussed the dangers of discrimination and how that drove WWII and the 60+ years of current problems in the Middle East. Unfortunately, this scout is getting his hatred from home so there is not much that we as scouters can do about that. @Qwazse, I'd be interested to find out what the scout says/said (if you feel you can share) when you talk to him.

                Comment


                • #12
                  I certainly would not bring his religious beliefs into question. That would be a big turn-off for a religious 17 year old. Personally, I agree with TJ in thinking that most anti-gay people are that way for reasons that have nothing to do with religion and use it as a justification, but that doesn't necessarily apply to a young guy like that. Talking about the fact that he will pretty much have to associate with people who have different beliefs of all kinds in his life would be a better approach. Certainly associating with people who are openly gay is going to be a bigger issue as time goes on, so preparing kids for that is not a bad objective in Scouting. I just read a local article about Gay Days at Disney World. The article points out how much more accepted they are now than back when they started Gay Days. Disney takes no stand on Gay Days, but they sell a lot of red and rainbow merchandise during this time of the year. It was mentioned that a straight parent was quoted as saying they purposely brought their kids during this time of the year just to expose them to the idea of tolerance. Who'd have thunk?

                  Along the lines of this issue, I keep hearing about the lack of anti-gay policies "back in the day,"

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by Krampus View Post
                    Unfortunately, this scout is getting his hatred from home so there is not much that we as scouters can do about that...
                    How do you know his objection is "hatred?" I did not see that in the OP.

                    Comment


                    • qwazse
                      qwazse commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I thought K was referring to the scout (one of two) he actually had to deal with, not mine who I never met (who, by the way, I have yet to hear from).

                  • #14
                    How about this: Tell him the truth - that this was the result of an extremely divisive vote, and that some adults in the organization voted to change the traditions of the BSA. It was a political decision, as factions within the BSA who felt it was the right thing to change the policy, contended against those who felt the traditional policy was correct and should remain. As a result of the vote, many friendships have been ruptured, many good men and women and scouts will be leaving the BSA, probably forever, and we will almost certainly see a net loss of leadership over the years. Those who support the inclusion of openly homosexual scouts also mostly support the inclusion of openly homosexual leaders, and this will probably almost inevitably happen, sooner or later. This will probably also cause a greater loss of adult leaders and scouts. Those who support the inclusion of bisexual men, homosexual men, and transsexual men in the BSA see their cause as such a worthy goal, that they consider the loss of all those people and the traditions of scouting as an acceptable price to pay. Many of these supporters also support the loss of your scout's friends and leaders as they think it will purify the BSA of people who don't think like them and don't share their values, and will lead to a more homogenous BSA. No pun intended.

                    Your scout's religious beliefs are in line with the vast majority of all religions on the planet, and they are nothing for him to be ashamed of. The fact that he holds his moral beliefs to be more important than being a member of an organization, or holding a title or a rank, or wearing a uniform, however hard he has worked towards those goals or however attractive they might seem to him, already means even if he chooses to leave scouting, he has already learned the most important lesson that the "old" scouting program had to offer him - that is, to do what he thinks is right even if it isn't popular, or if it isn't in accord with popular culture. He has fulfilled the goals of scouting in a manner far better, and far more impressively, than becoming an "Eagle" or anything else could do - he has become a Man, in the truest sense of the term.

                    Obviously, it is not your purpose, and it would be extremely objectionable, to try to argue him out of one of the tenets of his religious faith. That is not your role, or the role of anyone else in that scout's life except his family or his religious leader. I know no one on this forum would consider trying to do that.

                    But...

                    You may also consider telling him that as this was a political decision, it can also be changed... as a political act. This is one of the lessons of citizenship that we try to teach. If an organization (or a government) does something with which you disagree, you can quit...or you can stay and work to change it from within. Should he choose to stay in scouting, if he feels strongly about his beliefs, then he should make his goal to restore scouting to what he thinks it was, and could be once again.

                    You should tell him that this will be an extremely unpopular position to take, both with many adult leaders who feel that this is now the status quo as well as some scouts and parents, and certainly with the media, and that the decision to change the policy, in the words of the scout executives, will not be revisited. For many on the left, the feeling is that "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is...negotiable." Tell him that this, of course, is self-serving nonsense - nothing in politics is ever finally decided, and the landscape of American politics is littered with the shattered remains of ideas that were once held to be "settled." If he chooses to go this route, he should talk it over very carefully with his parents, but if he chooses to go forward with it, great! He will remain in scouting and still be true to his ideals. It will be a hard trail to take, and he should remember that, as James Thurber said, you should never wear your best suit when you go forth to fight for Truth and Justice.

                    You could recommend that he decide quite clearly what his goals are, and how to present them in a way that is consistent with the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the best ideals of citizenship and participatory democracy, and also how to present them in a way that is not needlessly hurtful or cruel to others. It will probably be more helpful, and honest, to frame the issue in terms of religious freedom and freedom of association, as those are constitutional principles that are directly applicable and with which most Americans are familiar. Suggest he decide what changes in the new policy he would like to see, at a council or at a national level, whether that is complete revocation of the new policy or modification. He should research how a member of an organization can effect change within that organization - the Citizenship in the Community merit badge handbook is not a bad start - and reading, and really understanding, Roberts Rules of Order is also helpful. He should educate himself on the administrative structure of the Boy Scouts, at the Council level and at the National level. It would be helpful for him to read some books on participatory democracy. Copies of Robert A. Heinlein's handbook on running a local political campaign, "Take Back Your Government" can still be found on Amazon or in Kindle edition, and it is still relevant as well as being a fun read. He can also probably find several books on how students with a traditionally religious or conservative background can effect change at a local level. He should also probably look at the other side's rulebook - Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," if he's old enough enough to read it, can be an enlightening read.

                    One should always look at what the other side has done to see what can be learned from their successes, as well as where they faltered. The homosexual political pressure group "Scouting for All" made good use of social networks like Facebook petitions and Twitter campaigns, a tactic that was not really tried by those who wanted to keep traditional values in scouting. Your scout has the advantage of being young, so he grew up with, and is probably quite familiar with, digital media in a way that old fogies like you and I are not.

                    You could further advise your scout that if he feels strongly enough about his values to stay in the organization and fight for change, he needs to find allies. If other friends have left over the issue (and that's hard to deal with - we lost three scouts at last count, plus their parents, over this issue), suggest that he can call his friends who have left the troop, or boys he knows who have left other troops, or friends who have not been in scouting but share his values, and see if they would be interested in returning or joining to fight for what they think is right. As the well-publicized former eagle scouts who pushed (and continue to push) for adding a homosexual focus to scouting found strong allies in Scouting for Choice, GLAAD, and the ACLU, he should research legal foundations that are directly concerned with religious freedoms. He may need their help at some point.

                    Will he succeed? Perhaps not. But he won't know until he tries, and at least he won't ever feel like he didn't give his best. As the former Chief Scout Citizen once said, it is better to spend oneself in a worthy cause, knowing that if at worst, if he or she fails, one at least failed while daring greatly. And encourage him to stay in scouting as an adult leader, past Eagle.

                    Plus, it can be grand fun to be a burr under the plush saddles of the politically correct. Trust me.
                    That may be (and probably is) way more than your scout would consider. He may simply choose to quit and focus on school sports, or finding a summer job, or just stay home and play video games, or something. But here's hoping he doesn't. We need to retain people with high ideals in scouting.

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Nothing under this new policy compromises HIS faith or beliefs. And from a very practical standpoint, it doesn't change his relationship to Scouting nor his relationship to others Scouts. SHould there be any gay Scouts whom he meets in his troop, he need interact with them just like any other scout -- and certainly in Scouting neither boys religion or faith or sexuality should impact the Scouting program. If it does for either him, or his fellow gay Scouts, that's not how it should be. Scouting should support his faith life, not define it.

                      Comment

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