Jump to content

BSA should learn from its own history

Recommended Posts

I know this issue gets done to death, but a new Cub Scout mom shared this article with me on Facebook, and its one of the more level-headed calls for change that I have read recently.




Boy Scouts of America should learn from its own history by Brad Hirschfield, Washington Post, For God's Sake, 07/20/2012


"The Boy Scouts of America reaffirms its commitment to their own version of dont ask, dont tell when it comes to gay members and leaders, those most expected to support the decision did so, and those most expected to oppose did the same no real surprises in either case. The surprise, and I would say the wonderful surprise, is by two very influential BSA national executive board members who have publicly spoken about their opposition to this conclusion without breaking from the organization.


"Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, both advocates for full and equal inclusion regardless of sexuality, will likely continue to argue for that policy even in the face of this new affirmation of the current policy.


"As a statement released by AT&T said, We dont agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable.


"I dont know that change from within is the only way to go, or that there isnt also a useful role for outside agitation for the change that is sought. In fact, history tells us that there is. But it also tells us that the combination of the two is typically the most successful and durable approach to creating positive change. And in this case, the history to which I refer is none other than that of the Boy Scouts of America.


"Americas first Negro Boy Scout troop was founded in 1911, but not until 1916 would there be a troop which was officially recognized by the Boy Scouts Council, and even then it was a racially segregated troop and fights continued about the propriety of black Scouts wearing the tan uniform. Struggles over the place of African-American boys and young men in scouting continued, not surprisingly especially in the Deep South, right up through the 1970s.


"In other words, scouting mirrored the struggles faced by the rest of the nation. And that is precisely where the organization is on the issue of full inclusion of gay members and leaders today. The real question is what lessons can be learned from that past lessons that will serve both individual scouts and the scouting movement?


"For starters, we see that Scouts has been a fairly conservative organization one that followed social trends rather than lead them. That has been, and continues to be, both strength and a weakness.


"While pushing for many good values, including those that may seem old fashioned to many, Scouting has championed the value of service, moral strength, commitment to community and to family. That same conservatism has also made the organization slow to appreciate how broadly those categories can be understood without any loss of integrity.


"Past experience indicates that with time, the organization is likely to become more, not less, inclusive. Given that, it would be helpful for people to follow Turley and Stephenson, and think about what could be done to encourage the organization to ask how it might become more inclusive of gay people without violating what it sees as its mission. In fact, they could come to appreciate that such inclusivity might actually help them to fulfill that mission. That is very much what happened with the integration of black scouts.


"Ultimately, Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and they have the right to construct their membership rules as they see fit. They have the right to be wrong. But one hopes that they will not simply bask in that right, ignoring their own history in the process --- doing that, will simply reduce a truly wonderful organization to an ever-shrinking club which is increasingly relevant to itself only.


"In fact, like all great organizations, the Boy Scouts will maintain their vitality and their relevance not by simply protecting the status quo, nor by doing whatever is asked of them even by those with whom they disagree. They will accomplish the most by learning from those with whom they disagree and by incorporating those lessons, and those from their own organizational history, in ways that respect their past while embracing is presidential lessons for the future"

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Another friend of mine on Facebook made a similar post on Facebook when the announcement was made on Tuesday except that he included the following with his post: "and this is why my son will NEVER be involved in the Boy Scouts organization... " That really hurt my feelings because our sons are friends and I had invited him to a pack meeting and he had said that he might check it out. He didn't show up, and I didn't bring it up again, and now I'm really glad I didn't. This is one conversation I would not like to have with him (or anyone, really). I can't really defend the BSA position, but I'm still recruiting for the organization because in spite of this failing, I still think scouting has too much going for it to sit on the sidelines and wait for them to catch up on this issue.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, hmmm.... We've moved from da New York Times to the Washington Post now? Ho hum.


I think we've been round and round this dance a few dozen times, eh?


Just curious, howarthe, what your feeling is on da atheist issue? When we give up "morally straight", should we also delete "Duty to God?"


I know some folks who won't let their sons join the BSA because of its nationalistic / militaristic views. Should we also be more inclusive by deletin' "Duty to Country"? Some folks view oaths and flag worship as bein' "wrong". Do we drop da Pledge of Allegiance?


Da BSA now lives in a nation with an epidemic of youth obesity, and yet its activities and required badge work ask for a level of fitness and improvement in fitness. Do we drop "physically strong" so as to be more inclusive of the obese?


And that leaves out da Big One, eh? Do we admit girls, and wipe out GSUSA?


In short, I wonder if "inclusiveness" trumps all other virtues and practicalities? Is it OK to make this change knowin' that not many gay leaders are goin' to join, but lots of traditional-values families will leave? A rough guess would be a third to a half of da membership, dependin' on da actions of the major partners.


Are yeh ready to close half of the BSA camps in the nation?


There are some things, like slavery and racial apartheid, that are absolutes. But if we're honest, they are few. Not every issue can be cast in those terms. And even for slavery and racial apartheid, being "right" does not justify all tactics, eh? Some tactics are still foolish, or even morally repugnant.


Perhaps, just maybe, the end doesn't justify the means all the time, eh? ;) Viewin' yourself as "right" isn't always enough. And perhaps, just maybe, millenia of moral teaching around the world might be more sound than this decade's fad among a few well-off westerners. A small touch of humility before we assume that history is always goin' to trend da way we think?


Just a thought. ;)




Link to post
Share on other sites

Why does the atheist issue always get dragged into this issue. I don't see the connection. If you really want to know what I think about that issue, please ask me in another thread. I do not believe we have to give up "morally straight" in order to include gay members and leaders. The morality of homosexuality is subject to individual interpretation. The Boy Scouts of America does not, to my knowledge, attempt to define morality. The social morals of our society have changed since 1910. For example, it no longer appears to be consider immoral to live with your intended for several months or a couple of years before announcing your engagement to be married. Do you know of any examples of any scout or scouter being excluded from scouting because of immoral behavior?


The issues surrounding the pledge of allegiance and obesity and coeducation are also unrelated to the issue of including gay members and leaders. I believe each of those issues is best discussed separately. No, I do not believe that inclusiveness trumps all other virtues. I believe that homosexuals are being excluded for reasons of hatred and bigotry.


Yes, it OK to make this change knowing that not many gay leaders are going to join, and many traditional families will leave. Of course its OK. Was that a serious question? It is always OK to do the right thing. That is what "morally straight" means.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the years as the BSA slowly changed and became more inclusive, e.g., racial integration (I saw only a small part of what that editorial mentioned), allowing advancement alternatives for the disabled, allowing women in leadership roles (well most CO's anyway). Over these changes, I have seen some old scouters and traditional families leave, but over the discrimination of atheists, agnostics, and gays, I have seen more turned away or turned off from joining.


Change is coming.


My $0.02,(This message has been edited by RememberSchiff)

Link to post
Share on other sites

The social morals of our society have changed since 1910.


And one fine day, we will stop persecuting boys who bring pornography to camp.


I won't be forced to drag an adult female along any time a girl in my crew wants to overnight.


And the whole sex segregation thing! Please give us one less tent to haul ...


The age segregation! My 21 y.o. co-advisor deserves to have the pick of any youth in my crew.


Let's stop the hatin' and tell parents they need to teach their kids how to really live in the 21st century.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Howarthe, here's the link in a 'hot' form for anyone who is interested:

The Article


I think you make a good point. I disagree with Beavah's contention that the moral status of slavery and racial apartheid are 'absolute'. He should know better. If they were absolute they wouldn't have been openly debated, even defied (and continue to be in some places) in such widespread manner by thoughtful persons until very recently. If they were absolute, no less than champions of Beavah's 'natural law' would not have justfied slavery, at least, and by extension apartheid, on that basis.


Moreover, we should reject the contention that the moral status of slavery and apartheid are absolute because by doing so, we risk becoming complacent not only to what DID occur in the recent past and which still occurs less openly today, but we also risk loss of the understanding of the real reasons why most of us reject those things today. In the view that such things are settled moral absolutes, we risk substitution of a thoughtless 'pronouncement' for a reasoned decision. Beavah should know better.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, the old slippery slope argument. "Well, my goodness, if we allow blacks to be free, soon they'll be votin'! And buyin' land! And marryin' our womenfolk! And then, societal chaos! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together!"


Y'all are smarter than the antebellum racists. Come up with a better line.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Shortridge, you do know don't you, that THAT is related to what is behind the 'Voter ID' laws? It's not limited to 'antebellum' times.


Edit: BTW, 'Ghostbusters'...nice touch!(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

Link to post
Share on other sites

My .02:


BSA will go one of two ways. It will either bend and change with the times--allowing openly gay scouts and leaders--and lose the religious/righteous OR it will become more secular and enclosed in its rulings and ideals, and it will chase away the more liberal, open-minded adults.


Either way, the BSA will lose some good people. And gain some others.


I would rather they bend and change.


Mary and Nikki should have the same right to marry as Mr. CC and I do. I believe that MORALLY--it is important to show that solidarity of marriage between two people who love each other and are committing to a relationship together.


I teach my kids open-mindness, kindness and compassion. If people can't understand that, well, that's their problem, not mine.



A quick Hmmmm????


The mayor of Boston is fighting to not allow Chik-Fil-A in the city, because of the strict beliefs of the company--will they work to remove the BSA as well?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mary and Nikki should have the same right to marry as Mr. CC and I do.


Who said anything about marriage?

In fact howarthe made the usual specious case in favor of fornication. And it's thinking along those lines that lets our COs keep a lot of their unmarried non-celibate leaders. In fact the language on the application was phrased the way it was for that reason.


We are talking about opening the organization to every manner of sodomite except pedophilies (for now). Well, maybe CO's will want the person to be a little less promiscuous than the average sports coach, but that will be their call. The thinking being that some of those forms of affection should be modeled for our boys nationwide.


And, let's not belittle the slippery slope arguement. This discussion is about one marginalized class riding on the coattails of the success of a formerly marginalized class. Like Pack said, no absolutes.(This message has been edited by Qwazse)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why does the atheist issue always get dragged into this issue. I don't see the connection.


Well, I reckon Merlyn does. ;) Da connection is that atheists are just another group of folks yeh can accuse the rest of us of "hating" because we happen to think they wouldn't make da best leaders in an organization that teaches kids to pledge Duty to God.


The morality of homosexuality is subject to individual interpretation.


All morality is subject to individual interpretation. Jerry Sandusky hasn't expressed a lick of remorse, eh? Da thing of it is, individual interpretation can be wrong.


For example, it no longer appears to be consider immoral to live with your intended for several months or a couple of years before announcing your engagement to be married. Do you know of any examples of any scout or scouter being excluded from scouting because of immoral behavior?


If yeh live with your intended in a tent on a BSA campout, yeh are in violation of da coed tenting rules and can be removed from da organization. Only married couples can share tents.



The mayor of Boston is fighting to not allow Chik-Fil-A in the city, because of the strict beliefs of the company--will they work to remove the BSA as well?


Do yeh feel that's right, CCbyTrickery? Is it OK for da government to try to destroy the business and livelihood of a citizen because the citizen happens to disagree with those in office? Remember, Chik-fil-A is happy to sell to gays, to have gays in its store. Its only "crime" is that da owner happens to have a traditional religious perspective on morality. For that, it's OK if da government tries to destroy his business? This is where the liberal argument runs off da rails and becomes truly despicable.


The BSA has never attempted to get LGBT groups de-funded. It has never brought suit against LGBT groups to try to block their access to public lands and institutions. It has never started petition drives to get LGBT-only clubs or support groups to open up their exclusive, hateful, bigoted membership policies. The BSA, despite your implication, has never taken a stand either for or against gay marriage.


All they have asked for is the right to quietly express their own viewpoint in terms of their private membership, preferably without harassment or what so many liberals in other contexts would call "bullying."


At the point when yeh are willing to conflate that simple request to be left alone with bigotry and hatred, at the point when yeh want da State to take away folks' livelihood because of their religious beliefs, I reckon da import of the slippery slope argument is pretty obvious. ;)



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Spiral scouts or Baden Powell service Association is always an option for those who want scouting and have an objection to the no atheist or gay policies.


No wait, That's right you want your son to earn the Eagle. That is the only reason to be a member of the BSA, Recognition . Spiral or BPSA to advancement is recognized by no one, College or business recruiters......


Well the other reason is Spiral or BPSA are pretty much DIY scouting programs.....No resident, day, High Adventure Bases, Jambo's, Roundtables or easy help......




So in a nutshell, Stop whining about it and do something if you object to it that much........



We are starting a BPSA group for the sisters in the troop and Pack. Now just to get the parents off the sideline.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...