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Update on new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion MB


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Although I am still in the midst of reading it, I recommend this read to all.

https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Draft-Report-of-the-Commission-on-Unalienable-Rights.pdf

Recommendations to BSA

1.  Change the name to Human Rights Merit Badge.

2.  Rework the content of merit badge to encapsulate perspectives released in the Commission report above.

3.  If you want to provide rank requirements, use an "ages and stages" approach to address increasingly complex views and examples of human rights issues, with regard to the prerogatives reserved to family and faith.

 

P.S.  Report was released to public on 26 August 2020.

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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I have major issues with BSA actively entering the political arena.  By mentioning B. Taylor, they have gone way beyond selling war bonds and into anti-police propaganda.  That is something that they

Likewise. Which is all I'm looking for. But by the chosen phrasing, I fear that this is NOT what we are seeing. If "white privilege"/"check your privilege" or "systemic racism" is brought up

Let's start with the "equity" portion. Equity is an impossible goal to achieve. No matter how we strive we will never achieve equal outcomes. The goal of "equity" is a myth, an impossible achieveme

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7 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Although I am still in the midst of reading it, I recommend this read to all.

https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Draft-Report-of-the-Commission-on-Unalienable-Rights.pdf

Recommendations to BSA

1.  Change the name to Human Rights Merit Badge.

2.  Rework the content of merit badge to encapsulate perspectives released in the Commission report above.

3.  If you want to provide rank requirements, use an "ages and stages" approach to address increasingly complex views and examples of human rights issues, with regard to the prerogatives reserved to family and faith.

The report claims

Quote

Foremost among the unalienable rights that government is established to secure, from the founders’ point of view, are property rights and religious liberty.

This is itself a very political statement that is highly controversial.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/07/20/lets-grade-commission-unalienable-rights/

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6 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

The report claims

This is itself a very political statement that is highly controversial.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/07/20/lets-grade-commission-unalienable-rights/

Agreed.

And I believe you agree with me that the BSA is misguided (at best) in thinking they can address societal issues in any better and more meaningful way if this commission of "experts" and the US government has difficulty getting to the the meat of the matter.

I do find this report, so far, to be a good basis from which to start the scrutiny of our human rights traditions and progress.  I withhold final judgment until I have digested the entire report.  

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If the national BSA wanted to make a statement on racism, then why didn't they make a statement along the following lines...

"Given the increase in racial tensions in the United States over the past year, the leadership of the national BSA wants to give thousands of Cub Scout and Scout BSA units credit for being positive models in our communities. A Scout is kind. A Scout is helpful. A Scout is Courteous. A Scout is Friendly. Every day scouts of all races, genders, etc join together to do activities in the outdoors and serve the communities they are a part of. We are proud of Scouts and adult volunteers for all their work to make this a more diverse and inclusive organization."

Wouldn't this encourage more scouts to join the organization than the actual statement sent out by the national BSA that assumes that everyone is not exposed to diversity, equity, and inclusion principles. It is like national is telling the world that we are a racist organization and that they are requiring training of scouts and adult volunteers to help put the end to that. 

Am I off base here?

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Frankly, the vile I am hearing from the scouters on this forum disgusts me.  

o    The merit badge exists whether you like it or not.

o    The merit badge will evolve over time (all have)

o    The basis of the black live matters movement is sadly based on fact and is an important issue to get addressed

o    We should be encouraging youth to join our movement 

Let's move on to support each other rather than resort to name calling or calling this to be the end of scouting as we know it.  

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On 12/17/2020 at 5:55 PM, qwazse said:

...The sooner you learn to cook well, the sooner you can land a good spouse who's going to make bank so you can indulge your other hobbies -- including scouting. ;)

This worked for me.  Married a girl who became a pharmacist.

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As noted above, "black lives matters" are words that apply to different groups and ideas. 

There is no monolith.  There is not even a national organiation. The was a blacklivesmatter.com website that someone set up, but it does not wrok for me today ("This page isn’t working.")  There is a Black Lives MAtter Foundation, but baru=ious attroney's general have ordered it to cease solicitng funds on the grinds that is is not associated with Black Lives Matters, whatever is meant by that.  Confusing.

 In its rush to meet someone's ideas of expected social values, BSA failed to understand that and to explain what it was supporting.   

Equally, if one "opposes" "black lives matter,"  it is not clear what is opposed.

If Detective Harry Bosch declares, "“Everybody matters or nobody matters." he simultaniously emphatically supports some meanings of "black lives matter" but opposes others, likely the "should have been strangled in his mother's umbellical cord" part for sure.  

Or we can call opinions we dislike "vile" and go on from there. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, mashmaster said:

We should be encouraging youth to join our movement 

Your political movement is free to start its own youth chapters outside of the Boy Scouts and do your own recruitment activities. There are a lot of restrictions on the Boy Scouts in regards to political events and activity. I cannot go door-to-door with my son in our scouting uniforms to campaign for a candidate we like or for legislative initiatives on the ballot. 

Now the Seattle BLM organization has committed to lobbying their state legislature to increase capital gains taxes to give public school more funding. My personal opinion is that states should give minority parents vouchers, so they can send their children to schools that provide a good education. However, I am 99% confident that the Seattle BLM would oppose vouchers to keep minority students in failing public schools. I am also 99% confident that giving failing public schools more money will not improve education. Administration and teachers will be paid more and they will be able to hire more people, but the quality of education will not improve. So who cares more about the education of minority students? Me or the Seattle BLM?

If you are offended about my stance on education funding, then that is exactly why the Boy Scouts should stay out of political matters like this.

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Much of this discussion is being shaped by interpretations of why BSA National issued the statement that it did during the protests triggered by the death of Mr. Floyd.  Reading that statement, I did not see any of the suggestions made in this thread that National was saying units or leaders or scouts are racist on a broad scale.

What I focused on was the statement that BSA had not been sufficiently “brave” about issues surrounding race.  I know that Scouting has had a complicated history regarding race issues, though it was not something that I had searched for information about before.  I had heard a piece on the radio about an African American troop — many years ago — where swimming at summer camp was an activity where their scouts were singled out in absolutely unscoutlike ways.  Swimming is an interesting case to consider, since swimming — because of segregation that prevented access to pools — is a core scout activity where the echoes of past overt racism still lives on as I understand it.  So I dug a little.  

In historical discussion about segregation and desegregation in scouting, I heard things very similar to elements of the discussion we are having here.  One concern about the inclusion of sexual orientation in the MB requirements is that it might spur discussions of that topic.  In an article (written from the perspective of philanthropy that funded some of the early desegregation efforts — https://resource.rockarch.org/story/who-belongs-in-the-boy-scouts/) talks about the question of pushing for the integration of scout troops, particularly in the South, and that some had concerns “that such a move might bring on a racial discussion.”  And so, decisions about integration were largely left to local councils — and as a result, the last segregated troop did not desegregate until 1974, within many of the lifetimes of members of this discussion, myself included.  

I saw the letter from BSA as a rapid response to a set of nationwide events, shaped by the view that the past history of the organization was not unblemished on this issue.  As many in this community have cited, the approach to the issue of sexual orientation of scouts and leaders was initially done similarly to the way BSA approached desegregation, and I have read compelling posts from people on both sides of that issue that the approach chosen ended up with the BSA ending up criticized from all sides.  My reading of the initial letter is that National had reached a similar conclusion about their past efforts, and felt action needed to be taken in the wake of the protests, and that past “leave the issue to the local councils/units” approach would not be viable.  

That historical article linked above also echoed some of what I see a the best ideas of the discussion happening here, that the principles of the Scout Oath and Law can provide the basis for taking on these issues in a productive way, and - as a result - that Scouting could be positioned such to make a unique contribution to addressing these issues even at the current polarized time.  The most dramatic demonstration of this was another story relating the history of a black troop in Virginia that experienced a cross burning at summer camp (quoting from that history): 

Quote

During the 1925 or 1926 encampment at Camp Mishawakwa, an integrated scout summer camp near Stone City, Iowa, a KKK cross-burning attempted to intimidate scouts and camp staff. Rather, the next morning in a show of unity, white and black troops at the camp mounted horses and rode together through the town to show their solidarity and to eliminate any thoughts that the intimidation worked.

I took from this story a productive meaning of the discussion of “upstanding” without any of the negative connotations that some seem to connect to it.  People did something horrible, and Scouts stood together to push back as Scouts.

Before commenters — legitimately — point out that these examples from those articles happened a long time ago, I don’t agree with the suggestion made in many comments here that these are solved problems, as much as I hope there will be a time when everyone in the country is judged as individuals, without bias from their race, creed, sexual orientation, and other factors.  I have heard personal stories from leaders about much more recent events, about the tying of nooses at summer camp, and what that meant when minority scouts found them.  As an ASM of a troop of female Scouts BSA, I witnessed some, thankfully minor, flak incoming to them because of their gender (though I have hear rumors about other leaders who might not be the best choice to send our scouts to for MB counseling, given their opinion on whether young women should be in the BSA).  And I have read secondhand accounts of issues around issues of sexual orientation focused bullying happening within Scouting.  

While many of the stories shared on this thread of very inclusive and diverse troops are similar demonstrations to the story above about the potential power of Scouting and its core ideals to bring people together in diverse groups, I do not believe that all troops meet that standard — no matter what commentators, pundits, or online videos argue that racism and bias are things of the past and that they believe that people who experienced decades of discrimination (even in something as simple and tangible as the swimming example above) wouldn’t reasonably have consequences that persist.  The legacy of past treatment of different groups of people in this country affects all sorts of parts of our society.  To cite an example closer to my professional area, the protections that are in place for all of the people who volunteered for COVID-19 vaccine trials largely exist because of the mistreatment of minorities in the Tuskegee experiments decades ago — and that same legacy shapes the trust of those minority communities in the vaccine itself.   

So, as a result, I do believe that this merit badge could be a positive contribution to a Scout’s career, in spite of it seeming rushed in development.  On whether or not it should be an Eagle requirement, the requirements levied by BSA defines the minimum that a scout needs to accomplish to achieve that rank.  That BSA has included this in that set says they think it is important enough that every scout who reaches Eagle should have this as part of their program.  I don’t think its addition says “the program is lacking,” just as others have pointed out that having Camping and Cooking a required merit badges doesn’t say the program is lacking in those areas either.  But the requirements do define a floor for the amount of those scout activities a boy or girl will have done before they earn Eagle — they are the standards that are the counter to the concern also raised in this forum at various times about standards dropping, merit badge mills, etc. etc. 

As many have mentioned, whether this will truly be a positive will depend on what exactly the requirements end up being and the quality of the MBCs and how they run the discussions involved.  I have had many flavors of diversity and inclusion training over my professional career, and the best experience I had was actually part of scouting... in a discussion moderated by an NYLT trained scout that was part of Woodbadge.  It consisted entirely of questions that we discussed as a diverse group of patrol members, and which let us explore these issues in a really productive way.  If this badge gives Scouts the experience I had there, it will be of value.  Like some others, I fear implementation like that described earlier using commentaries that many view as one sided, and adding blue lives matter to “balance” the fact that the BSA letter mentioned BLM.  Going that route will mean that those at the other political extreme will likely view themselves licensed to bring resources into their MB discussions that could paint specific words used by Conservatives as systematically racist, or pull video of protestors carrying thin blue line flags behaving violently and illegally to paint “the other side” with as broad a brush as they see “that side” using to paint them.  Ironically, that could make more likely the very outcome that many of the commenters on this thread are concerned about.  I frankly don’t believe having competing political flavors of this MB serves the nation’s interest, or will help achieve BSA’s goal of producing future leaders and good citizens.

Finally, in my view some of this thread is not contributing to the chance of BSA coming to a truly productive conclusion here.  Words have been used here like “evil” and such a broad brush has been used to characterize what “the left” believes and the reasons why “they” are doing what they are doing, it’s hard to see some posts as attempts persuade.  In other threads on this site, I have heard many commenters express frustration about how they may be characterized.... whether their using specific words will automatically lead them to be called “racist” or whether there is bias or discrimination against people of their faith, or people of faith in general.  Yet in this thread, the use of single words in BSAs letter or the leaked draft requirements are treated as in incontrovertible evidence of National’s bad faith, political agenda, and more. 

I resist the use of such broad brushes and try to push back on their use by others - right, left and center.  There is an element of the Golden Rule in this... argue unto others as you would have them argue unto you.  If you think citing one internet video by someone on the Right is evidence enough of reality that it should bury someone who disagrees with you, someone posting one from a talking head on the Left is evidence of equal weight and validity and should be expected to bury you.  And then we just end up all buried.

Looking at the history of segregated Scouting, BSA National has been juggling Politics since the beginning of Scouting.  At some points, perhaps people with one opinion were happier with the results of that juggling than others.  I personally think that a “negotiated settlement” around this MB that tried to integrate many perspectives would actually be a valuable outcome, but that assumes that there are compromises that can be made ... and given the number of posts I have read here recently that essentially begin with “I realize this isn’t going to change anyone’s mind” and even my own reticence to even post something, I don’t know what the chances are of that negotiation even really happening.

 

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51 minutes ago, BAJ said:

Much of this discussion is being shaped by interpretations of why BSA National issued the statement that it did during the protests triggered by the death of Mr. Floyd.  Reading that statement, I did not see any of the suggestions made in this thread that National was saying units or leaders or scouts are racist on a broad scale.

What I focused on was the statement that BSA had not been sufficiently “brave” about issues surrounding race.  I know that Scouting has had a complicated history regarding race issues, though it was not something that I had searched for information about before.  I had heard a piece on the radio about an African American troop — many years ago — where swimming at summer camp was an activity where their scouts were singled out in absolutely unscoutlike ways.  Swimming is an interesting case to consider, since swimming — because of segregation that prevented access to pools — is a core scout activity where the echoes of past overt racism still lives on as I understand it.  So I dug a little.  

In historical discussion about segregation and desegregation in scouting, I heard things very similar to elements of the discussion we are having here.  One concern about the inclusion of sexual orientation in the MB requirements is that it might spur discussions of that topic.  In an article (written from the perspective of philanthropy that funded some of the early desegregation efforts — https://resource.rockarch.org/story/who-belongs-in-the-boy-scouts/) talks about the question of pushing for the integration of scout troops, particularly in the South, and that some had concerns “that such a move might bring on a racial discussion.”  And so, decisions about integration were largely left to local councils — and as a result, the last segregated troop did not desegregate until 1974, within many of the lifetimes of members of this discussion, myself included.  

I saw the letter from BSA as a rapid response to a set of nationwide events, shaped by the view that the past history of the organization was not unblemished on this issue.  As many in this community have cited, the approach to the issue of sexual orientation of scouts and leaders was initially done similarly to the way BSA approached desegregation, and I have read compelling posts from people on both sides of that issue that the approach chosen ended up with the BSA ending up criticized from all sides.  My reading of the initial letter is that National had reached a similar conclusion about their past efforts, and felt action needed to be taken in the wake of the protests, and that past “leave the issue to the local councils/units” approach would not be viable.  

That historical article linked above also echoed some of what I see a the best ideas of the discussion happening here, that the principles of the Scout Oath and Law can provide the basis for taking on these issues in a productive way, and - as a result - that Scouting could be positioned such to make a unique contribution to addressing these issues even at the current polarized time.  The most dramatic demonstration of this was another story relating the history of a black troop in Virginia that experienced a cross burning at summer camp (quoting from that history): 

I took from this story a productive meaning of the discussion of “upstanding” without any of the negative connotations that some seem to connect to it.  People did something horrible, and Scouts stood together to push back as Scouts.

Before commenters — legitimately — point out that these examples from those articles happened a long time ago, I don’t agree with the suggestion made in many comments here that these are solved problems, as much as I hope there will be a time when everyone in the country is judged as individuals, without bias from their race, creed, sexual orientation, and other factors.  I have heard personal stories from leaders about much more recent events, about the tying of nooses at summer camp, and what that meant when minority scouts found them.  As an ASM of a troop of female Scouts BSA, I witnessed some, thankfully minor, flak incoming to them because of their gender (though I have hear rumors about other leaders who might not be the best choice to send our scouts to for MB counseling, given their opinion on whether young women should be in the BSA).  And I have read secondhand accounts of issues around issues of sexual orientation focused bullying happening within Scouting.  

While many of the stories shared on this thread of very inclusive and diverse troops are similar demonstrations to the story above about the potential power of Scouting and its core ideals to bring people together in diverse groups, I do not believe that all troops meet that standard — no matter what commentators, pundits, or online videos argue that racism and bias are things of the past and that they believe that people who experienced decades of discrimination (even in something as simple and tangible as the swimming example above) wouldn’t reasonably have consequences that persist.  The legacy of past treatment of different groups of people in this country affects all sorts of parts of our society.  To cite an example closer to my professional area, the protections that are in place for all of the people who volunteered for COVID-19 vaccine trials largely exist because of the mistreatment of minorities in the Tuskegee experiments decades ago — and that same legacy shapes the trust of those minority communities in the vaccine itself.   

So, as a result, I do believe that this merit badge could be a positive contribution to a Scout’s career, in spite of it seeming rushed in development.  On whether or not it should be an Eagle requirement, the requirements levied by BSA defines the minimum that a scout needs to accomplish to achieve that rank.  That BSA has included this in that set says they think it is important enough that every scout who reaches Eagle should have this as part of their program.  I don’t think its addition says “the program is lacking,” just as others have pointed out that having Camping and Cooking a required merit badges doesn’t say the program is lacking in those areas either.  But the requirements do define a floor for the amount of those scout activities a boy or girl will have done before they earn Eagle — they are the standards that are the counter to the concern also raised in this forum at various times about standards dropping, merit badge mills, etc. etc. 

As many have mentioned, whether this will truly be a positive will depend on what exactly the requirements end up being and the quality of the MBCs and how they run the discussions involved.  I have had many flavors of diversity and inclusion training over my professional career, and the best experience I had was actually part of scouting... in a discussion moderated by an NYLT trained scout that was part of Woodbadge.  It consisted entirely of questions that we discussed as a diverse group of patrol members, and which let us explore these issues in a really productive way.  If this badge gives Scouts the experience I had there, it will be of value.  Like some others, I fear implementation like that described earlier using commentaries that many view as one sided, and adding blue lives matter to “balance” the fact that the BSA letter mentioned BLM.  Going that route will mean that those at the other political extreme will likely view themselves licensed to bring resources into their MB discussions that could paint specific words used by Conservatives as systematically racist, or pull video of protestors carrying thin blue line flags behaving violently and illegally to paint “the other side” with as broad a brush as they see “that side” using to paint them.  Ironically, that could make more likely the very outcome that many of the commenters on this thread are concerned about.  I frankly don’t believe having competing political flavors of this MB serves the nation’s interest, or will help achieve BSA’s goal of producing future leaders and good citizens.

Finally, in my view some of this thread is not contributing to the chance of BSA coming to a truly productive conclusion here.  Words have been used here like “evil” and such a broad brush has been used to characterize what “the left” believes and the reasons why “they” are doing what they are doing, it’s hard to see some posts as attempts persuade.  In other threads on this site, I have heard many commenters express frustration about how they may be characterized.... whether their using specific words will automatically lead them to be called “racist” or whether there is bias or discrimination against people of their faith, or people of faith in general.  Yet in this thread, the use of single words in BSAs letter or the leaked draft requirements are treated as in incontrovertible evidence of National’s bad faith, political agenda, and more. 

I resist the use of such broad brushes and try to push back on their use by others - right, left and center.  There is an element of the Golden Rule in this... argue unto others as you would have them argue unto you.  If you think citing one internet video by someone on the Right is evidence enough of reality that it should bury someone who disagrees with you, someone posting one from a talking head on the Left is evidence of equal weight and validity and should be expected to bury you.  And then we just end up all buried.

Looking at the history of segregated Scouting, BSA National has been juggling Politics since the beginning of Scouting.  At some points, perhaps people with one opinion were happier with the results of that juggling than others.  I personally think that a “negotiated settlement” around this MB that tried to integrate many perspectives would actually be a valuable outcome, but that assumes that there are compromises that can be made ... and given the number of posts I have read here recently that essentially begin with “I realize this isn’t going to change anyone’s mind” and even my own reticence to even post something, I don’t know what the chances are of that negotiation even really happening.

 

I deleted my drafted post. This one is better.

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I have another idea for a MB. Rather than try and solve our differences, let's embrace them. Forget the name for now. All of the requirements will be participating in a debate about the various problems in our communities, improving schools, drug additions, police, jobs, homelessness, all the big issues. It will require multiple scouts to do this at a time. As a group they will decide what the debate subjects are. They will need to understand both sides of each subject as they won't know which side they will have to debate until they do the debate. At the end of the debate, if they were prepared, they get the MB signed off. So, absolutely no describe, discuss and explain. It would include a competition. Scouts would be forced to understand both sides. How about Debate and Ethics? I think we just need to figure out how to get an I in there.

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5 minutes ago, MattR said:

I have another idea for a MB. Rather than try and solve our differences, let's embrace them. Forget the name for now. All of the requirements will be participating in a debate about the various problems in our communities, improving schools, drug additions, police, jobs, homelessness, all the big issues. It will require multiple scouts to do this at a time. As a group they will decide what the debate subjects are. They will need to understand both sides of each subject as they won't know which side they will have to debate until they do the debate. At the end of the debate, if they were prepared, they get the MB signed off. So, absolutely no describe, discuss and explain. It would include a competition. Scouts would be forced to understand both sides. How about Debate and Ethics? I think we just need to figure out how to get an I in there.

I = Impromptu. There's a high school and college version of this called Impromptu Debate.

Some of the aspects of Public Speaking merit badge could be modified.

Edited by CynicalScouter
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4 hours ago, mashmaster said:

Frankly, the vile I am hearing from the scouters on this forum disgusts me.  

o    The merit badge exists whether you like it or not.

o    The merit badge will evolve over time (all have)

o    The basis of the black live matters movement is sadly based on fact and is an important issue to get addressed

o    We should be encouraging youth to join our movement 

Let's move on to support each other rather than resort to name calling or calling this to be the end of scouting as we know it.  

Funny people downvoting this, because I suggest people more forward an work together.  I choose to embrace our differences and support my fellow scouters.

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