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Update on DEI Merit Badge from latest BSA Office Hours


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Found here in the Scoutbook forums https://discussions.scouting.org/t/update-on-dei-merit-badge-from-latest-bsa-office-hours/22884

Because everyone was asking about the DEI merit badge, this is a transcript from the February 2021 BSA Office Hours

https://www.scouting.org/program-updates/scouts-bsa-office-hours-session-february-25-2021/

The first mention was from 2:00-3:00

The introduction of the proposed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion merit badge is being delayed. Until further notice, all Scouts working on the Eagle Scout rank should continue to use current rank requirements. Once the Eagle-required Diversity, Equity and Inclusion merit badge is introduced, Scouts in the process of earning the rank of Eagle Scout will be given adequate time to earn it. Updates regarding the merit badge will be shared with councils directly and via Scoutingwire. Specific questions are welcome via email at Officeof.ChiefDiversityOfficer@scouting.org

The second mention was 19:00 to 22:00. Scott Berger is asked why the DEI merit badge is delayed.

Scott, can you tell us a little bit more why the DEI merit badge is delayed. Sure and by the way in the chat, I noticed a lot of questions and I’ll try to answer them all with this one answer. The merit badge was developed and there were requirements put together and before releasing it we wanted to make sure that it had buy-in and a wide audience and a lot of eyes on it because it could potentially be controversial. Although we certainly didn’t want it to be Scouts should never be political in nature and should never do anything against their family or their religious values. So we wanted to make sure that a lot of people saw the requirements before the badge was launched. When that happened there were a lot of comments that we received now, of course, not everybody in the scouting program was given an opportunity to look at it. But Scout executive certainly were many high-level volunteers and various councils were and there was a lot of feedback really really good feedback and because of that we want to pause, delay, but not cancel the merit badge so that those comments could be evaluated and dealt with because this is an important issue and we wanted to make sure that nobody was offended by anything that the scouts was doing again because we are not looking to push any agenda whatsoever. Somebody had written in earlier as soon as the meeting started. You know, what about a chartering organization that might differ with some of the aspects of the merit badge. The merit badge will not ask a scout or their family to do anything as I said, that would be against their family or their religious beliefs that has that can include their views on sexuality or sexual orientation or whatever. There will always be an alternative for them to do or just things for them to consider but it does not push an agenda. So while there is no date yet set for a release of the merit badge. I’m hoping that it’ll come soon. I don’t think it’s going to come before the spring. Because right now there are many things that the scouts are dealing with on a grand level such as the bankruptcy which is still being dealt with and things such as that. So I hope this in a kind of broad sense answers that question but you should know that just like anything else in the scouts we will release the badge in a way that should be very acceptable to everybody.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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I think one thing worth noting is the use of the phrase "alternative".

When the draft requirements leaked last November/December there weren't any "alternatives" to any of the requirements.

Also, and this came from my Council advancement chair, that as much as the focus of attention had been the DEI merit badge might raise concerns over critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, etc. that it was the issues related to sexual orientation that really threw some Councils, and especially COs, into a tailspin.

 

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4 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

I think one thing worth noting is the use of the phrase "alternative".

When the draft requirements leaked last November/December there weren't any "alternatives" to any of the requirements.

Also, and this came from my Council advancement chair, that as much as the focus of attention had been the DEI merit badge might raise concerns over critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, etc. that it was the issues related to sexual orientation that really threw some Councils, and especially COs, into a tailspin.

 

Wonder if any of them were reading our forum for the ideas we generated?? ;) 

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I appreciate Scott's comments on the DEI merit and respecting everyone's conscience and beliefs, and I surely hope alternatives will be available so my boys don't have to undergo what I see as a required diversity course just to get their merit badge. Sexual identity, orientation, and Black Lives Matter (which BSA capitalized in their first letter, so I'm assuming they're talking about the organization and not just the idea) have become highly politicized, so it's interesting he's implying that scouts is trying not to get political. We'll see what the requirements turn out to be. 

Edited by AMRC18
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53 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Even if they read it, I doubt it changed a single mind.

There are some that read it.  This site has been mentioned in the past by Surbaugh (not in a positive light).  I believe Richard Bourlon reviews content and he has responded to various topics.  While many on the site may not agree with all of his responses, I think its great that he pops in from time to time.  I would welcome other National leaders.

I'm not sure if anyone involved in the DE&I MB look at this site, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.  They should look at scouter.com and the FaceBook page comments from scouters.  That doesn't mean they should be paralyzed by the comments nor never proceed with controversial changes.  They should use the feedback to get a better idea of lay of the land that may get filtered by professionals. 

 

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1 minute ago, Eagle1993 said:

I'm not sure if anyone involved in the DE&I MB look at this site, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

This was something that I saw came up in the Office Hours video and in FB.

The only people who have been allowed access to even a DRAFT of these are

1) Scout Executives

2) Handpicked volunteers/yes men and women who are simply going to nod their heads up and down and do what National tells them

When people asked during the video (via Zoom chat I would guess) if they could be part of the review team or even see a copy, they were told no.

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9 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

This was something that I saw came up in the Office Hours video and in FB.

The only people who have been allowed access to even a DRAFT of these are

1) Scout Executives

2) Handpicked volunteers/yes men and women who are simply going to nod their heads up and down and do what National tells them

When people asked during the video (via Zoom chat I would guess) if they could be part of the review team or even see a copy, they were told no.

I would love to see the requirements.  If they are reading our comments, I would highly recommend not making it Eagle required out of the gate.  Release it and let MBCs and Scouts ramp up.  Adjust requirements after a few years.  If it really adds value, then make it required (but I would ask to relook at ALL required MBs before you do that).

I'll hold off judgement on the actual requirements until I see them.  I do have a lot of questions.  If you allow too much flexibility, would you allow someone like my Uncle be a MBC who believes blacks should not marry whites?  Would the badge be pointless?  Or, if it is too inflexible, how do you deal with different belief systems that are considered acceptable within today's society?  Also, how do you adjust as society changes? For example, my uncle's view against interracial marriage is not considered accepted today, but it would be considered the majority view in the in 1950s and 60s. 

My grandmother would refuse to eat in a restaurant with a black man present ... but my sister is married to a black man and has interracial children.  Clearly society changes in these areas and in general, we trend to more acceptance of diversity and inclusion, but there are always controversial areas.

These are very tough topics for adults, let alone 11 year olds attempting to earn Eagle by 12. 

 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

I'll hold off judgement on the actual requirements until I see them. 

Here's the problem.

1) By that point it is too late. There isn't going to be a public comment period.

2) I agree, this is going to be driven by the MBC's personal beliefs. For example, when this came up last fall I know some people talked about "Sure, I'll take about systematic racism (which was in the leaked drafts). I'm going to use videos from Prager Univ. and Ben Shapiro to show how it doesn't exist."

Edited by CynicalScouter
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1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

This was something that I saw came up in the Office Hours video and in FB.

The only people who have been allowed access to even a DRAFT of these are

1) Scout Executives

2) Handpicked volunteers/yes men and women who are simply going to nod their heads up and down and do what National tells them

When people asked during the video (via Zoom chat I would guess) if they could be part of the review team or even see a copy, they were told no.

He said "high level volunteers"...guess I am a "low level volunteer"???  LOL

Just so you know your value to the people running things ;)

Start at 19:55

https://vimeo.com/521149532

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

guess I am a "low level volunteer"???

Yep. You are "low level". Den Leader? ASM? Committee chair? The people on the ground, day in, day out, who are actually delivering the program? "Low level".

This is the mindset. This is the attitude.

EDIT: I know I've suggest this for BSA paid staff and it probably is illegal condition for employment, but we can absolutely enforce for volunteer leaders.

No one is eligible for a position above the district level unless they have been a registered UNIT leader in the last X years. 1 is too short, 5 is to much. 3?

Point is, before they look their noses down at us "low level" volunteers, they best step up. Oh, you were a den leader in 1988? Great. Cute. You have no idea what you are doing.

Edited by CynicalScouter
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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Sadly the DEI merit badge will be the straw on the camel's back for many volunteers / scouters. 

Every change always results in some people walking away. Allowing homosexual scouts. Allowing homosexual scout leaders. Allowing girls into Scouts, BSA and Cubs.

The question is how many?

What I suspect is: not that many, especially if the requirements are so mealy mouthed and vague that a MBC can twist them to avoid things they don't want to talk about or in a way they do want to talk about.

I'm getting the feeling that what made them hit the pause button was NOT issues related to race/Black Lives Matter/critical race theory that made them push the pause button. Look what Berger talked about/defended: "sexuality or sexual orientation" "religious values""religious beliefs".

THAT is what has them in a panic.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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52 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Every change always results in some people walking away. Allowing homosexual scouts. Allowing homosexual scout leaders. Allowing girls into Scouts, BSA and Cubs.

The question is how many?

What I suspect is: not that many,

 

Agree, likely not that many, but, how many times can there be not that many?  Sort of death by a thousand cuts?

At the end of the day, the BSA is an organization that "sells" the program to the "customers" who are adults and youth.  If a business puts in a change that may alienate some current customers, that is weighed against how many new customers will come and what will the net change to the customer base be.  Also will the change improve the profitability of the customer base, helping the health of the business.

Change and updates are inevitable and necessary.  How they are handled, communicated, and embraced is what defines the success of an organization.  The BSA track record is poor at best.  BoyPower Manpower in the 70's; Improved Scout Program in 74, reversed in 81; Flip Flopping on the homosexual acceptance that was handled poorly; Opening the program to girls, where the rollout was poor and survey justification thin to name a few.

Bottom line is membership, for many many reasons, is likely less than 1,000,000 youth members right now.  Official numbers show that from 2017 to 2020 (4 years) the membership of Cubs, Scouts, Ventures, and Explorers DROPPED 47%.  That is over 1,083,177 youth (and their families) no longer involved with the program.

Every action that BSA and the "High Level" volunteers take should be laser focused on how is that trend altered or changed.  Without that focus, the DEI Merit Badge rollout will be a moot point and if ever presented, it will be to an empty hall.

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The question came up how can they accommodate religious concerns/objections especially in the context of sexual orientation/identity.

I think they can do it using the existing draft that got leaked. There are three places where sexual orientation are discussed

Draft Requirement 3

Quote

Discuss with your merit badge counselor how your unit can create the most welcoming environment for every person who wants to be involved with your unit. Tell what more your unit can do to ensure anyone can participate regardless of their ability, ethnicity, faith, financial background, gender Identity, race, or sexual orientation. Review the plan with your counselor and then discuss with your unit's leadership how you might implement your plan

Solution:

Discuss with your merit badge counselor how your unit can create the most welcoming environment for every person who wants to be involved with your unit. Tell what more your unit can do to ensure anyone can participate regardless of their ability, ethnicity, faith, financial background, gender Identity, race, or sexual orientation. Review the plan with your counselor and then discuss with your unit's leadership how you might implement your plan

Draft Requirement 8

Quote

Describe how generalizing people by identities such as ability, age, ethnicity, faith, financial background, gender, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation can be harmful. Tell how stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination.

Solution: Describe how generalizing people by identities such as ability, age, ethnicity, faith, financial background, gender, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation can be harmful. Tell how stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination.

Quote

9.b.    For EACH of the following scenarios, tell your counselor what you can do to be an upstander and not a bystander.
Scenario I: In the school cafeteria, a friend accidentally knocks over a bowl of food. The student next to her gets angry and yells a slur offensive to people with disabilities. Another friend at the table has a sibling with a disability, but everyone else just laughs and goes on with their meal.
Scenario 2: Your friend John confides in you that some of your peers in school are making insulting comments about his perceived sexual orientation. He tells you that a group of students created an imposter account to impersonate him online. Posing as
John and using his contact information, they start posting messages on the site.
Scenario 3: A new student in your class was born in another country and has immigrated to the United States. Your friends make racist comments to
the student, mock the student's speech, and tell the student to "go back home where you came from."

Solution: Give scouts the option to NOT select the one dealing with sexual orientation (Select ONE of the three scenarios)

Of course, there will be an ENORMOUS push back that this waters down the DEI badge itself, but it may be one way to address concerns

 

 

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