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Merit Badge Requirement Permission


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A scout turned in a blue card to a MBC for the newly Eagle required Citizenship in Society Merit Badge  with a requirement which reads "with your parents permission, have a conversation with someone with a different trait."

Their parent specifically would not give permission "due to their beliefs."

The kid is almost exactly a month from aging out, so this could be a legitimate thing (I've had many conversations with the dad), or this could just be an attempt to finish up one of his last ER MB before the deadline.

Lots of stuff at play, but I guess if we put any speculation on motivations aside, the question is do you penalize the scout because his parent is pushing his beliefs on the him or do you cut him some slack on this one requirement, which he easily could have just lied about completing.

I don't think I'm looking for a "the book says this" answer. We all know what the book says. I'm more interested to know how you would act in this situation or if anyone has actually encountered this exact issue.

Thanks in advance!

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@IronicallyNamed, welcome to the forums.

There are multiple possibilities:

  • The counselor glossed over the “parent permission” part.
  • The father actually relented in this case, perhaps through the intervention of the counselor.
  • The scout fooled someone either by claiming to have a conversation that didn’t transpire or claiming to have permission when none was given. (Yes, I’ve known 17 year olds to try this.) 

If this is nagging you, you need to get clarity from parent, counselor, and scout. That would be my first step.
If indeed the scout succumbed to breaking trust for a patch then let’s not call it “penalizing the scout.” The scout earned lots of awards and will no doubt be worthy of many others. If the family wants to take some kind of moral stand on this, then the scout has an opportunity to make the same stand. (I mean, he/she could file for emancipation if this award is a be-all end-all in his/her mind.) There’s nothing wrong with aging out as a life scout on your integrity.

If anyone should be penalized, it should be BSA. But even then, I wouldn’t call it a penalty. The Chief Scout Executive was compelled to make a stand knowing it would make Eagle an undesirable badge for some American scouts and their families.

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Considering National has allowed someone in my neck of the woods to become an "Eagle" when there was clear proof that it was not earned because "you do not penalize the Scout for the actions of the adults" or words to that effect, I would go with it.

This is an extremely controversial MB with folks on both sides upset with it. Those on the extreme right say it goes to far, and those on the extreme left say it does not go far enough.

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Considering National has allowed someone in my neck of the woods to become an "Eagle" when there was clear proof that it was not earned because "you do not penalize the Scout for the actions of the adults" or words to that effect, I would go with it.

This is an extremely controversial MB with folks on both sides upset with it. Those on the extreme right say it goes to far, and those on the extreme left say it does not go far enough.

@Eagle94-A1, the forces that motivate the MB are controversial. But, my first round of scouts who completed the requirements they found it to be an enjoyable opportunity. So, the challenge for us all is to focus on the youth. I'm pretty sure the parental permission clause has more to do with protection from abuse than honoring a parent's preference for isolation. But, let's just read the requirement as if it doesn't want us running afoul of parents' social strictures ...

In this particular case, if nothing has transpired to change the opinion of the parents, the youth is in a catch 22 because his/her integrity is at play:

  • Forgo requirement, say you did, and counselor signs anyway ... trust is broken.
  • Talk to a stranger without parent's permission ... obedience is ignored.

What's better for the scout? Earning a badge? Or, beingloyal to family?

What's better for the SM? One more Eagle to his/her name? Or, accepting that this badge isn't right for every family? (It certainly isn't right for families who believe that scouts should have no duty to God.)

However, I believe the SM/ASM should touch base with counselor, parents, and scout to see how they made this work. My reasoning: I think that there are more people in this country with different traits but same ideology than there are people with the same traits and same ideology. (Heck, it's really hard to find someone with all of the same traits as you!) Half the fun of life is hashing things out with a person who you'd think would have nothing in common with you. I'd like to think that the counselor was able to work with the scout and parents to help discover this. That's why I recommend making those inquiries with a positive attitude being prepared to hear good things.

Edited by qwazse
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The requirement says, "With your parent’s or guardian’s approval, connect with another Scout or youth your own age who has an identity that’s different from yours. (This means a trait, belief, or characteristic different from you.)

A trait can be something simple as hair color.  Surely the Scout has a sibling or friend who has a different color of hair than he/shoe does.  Perhaps framing the situation like that will gain the parents' permission.  This approach can effectively nullify any intentions from the MB developer that the parents might have objections to.  I don't know of too many parents who would object to their children talking to each other.  

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Interesting that this comes up the majority of the time when a scout is approaching 18.

My guess is the scout believes his parents gave him permission since there are other Eagle MBs (Cit in Comm, Cit in World, Family Life) (and probably others) that they gave him permission to do the requirement.  If this is a religious objection, did the parent have an issue with Personal Fitness?  You have to be careful not to get between a parent and yourself.  Calmly explain how this requirement can be met as armymutt  said.

The Book answer is is the scout feels that he has met all the requirements for his next rank, he may have a BOR.   I'll offer to sit on it. 

 

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

... than honoring a parent's preference for isolation. ... 

It's slight wording like this that would make me hesitate to give permission.  Asserting a parent wants to be isolated is a biased and belittling view of the parents opinion.  ... I probably would give permission as my son would be boxed in.  I'd truly have contempt for the situation.  I'd reluctantly and grudgingly give permission.  

People can have real differences of opinion while being well informed and connected to society.  I was in a discussion this last weekend.  I expressed an opinion that was based on what I've seen and read.  Instead of discussion and trying to work true the details, it was asserted I must be watching bad news sources.  

 

1 hour ago, Armymutt said:

A trait can be something simple as hair color. 

That similarly subverts the MB and can teach bad lessons.  The scout knows the MB is looking for larger differences.  I'm not sure this would teach a good lesson.  BUT, it would get out of the dog house.

 

IMHO ... scouts has a purpose of teaching how government works.  Scouts should not get into controversial topics.  

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The entire text of requirement 6. 

Quote

6. With your parent’s or guardian’s approval, connect with another Scout or youth your own age who has an identity that’s different from yours. (This means a trait, belief, or characteristic different from you.)

a. Share with each other what makes the different aspect of your identity meaningful/special to you.

b. Share with each other either one of the following: i.

A time you felt excluded from a group. •

What was the situation? •

How did it make you feel? •

What did you do? •

Did anyone stand up for you?

• What did you learn?

• Would you do anything differently today?

Not giving permission to complete this requirement based on "due to beliefs"  is adults going into it having a preconceived notion and they would probably benefit from completing this MB themselves.

To complete this a Scout could speak to another youth

who is of a different religion or belief 

has a physical disability that either limits their experiences or they have been able to do everything they want DESPITE the disability

who is a different ethnicity

there are so many possibilities that are NOT about what gender a person identifies as or sexual orientation or anything of that nature. 

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

That similarly subverts the MB and can teach bad lessons.  The scout knows the MB is looking for larger differences.  I'm not sure this would teach a good lesson.  BUT, it would get out of the dog house.

 

IMHO ... scouts has a purpose of teaching how government works.  Scouts should not get into controversial topics.  

I don't think it subverts the MB any more than almost every single MB "camp" "day" etc does for other MBs.  Why is this one so sacred?  It's the only merit badge that can't be taught to a large group and it has additional requirements to be an MBC, like it's some sort of especially technical or dangerous topic.  I think the other three citizenship MBs are far more important than this one.  

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Last I checked, Friendly/Courteous/Kind are still three points of the Scout Law. If you can't sit and have a civil conversation with someone you disagree or see eye-to-eye with, you really are not following the Scout Law. That's the point I would emphasize.

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3 hours ago, Armymutt said:

The requirement says, "With your parent’s or guardian’s approval, connect with another Scout or youth your own age who has an identity that’s different from yours. (This means a trait, belief, or characteristic different from you.)

A trait can be something simple as hair color.  Surely the Scout has a sibling or friend who has a different color of hair than he/shoe does.  Perhaps framing the situation like that will gain the parents' permission.  This approach can effectively nullify any intentions from the MB developer that the parents might have objections to.  I don't know of too many parents who would object to their children talking to each other.  

Our unit has had some discussion on this requirement.  In our mind the key phrasing and verbiage is "who has an identity that’s different from yours"

At it's most general, the definition of identity is "the fact of being who or what a person or thing is".  This really could quite literally be anyone, other than an internal dialogue.  All of us have some different traits, beliefs, or characteristics than someone (anyone) else.  It is not saying a person of Christian faith must speak with an atheist.  That would be enlightening no doubt, but not required.

They (the scout) should have the conversation with someone else, no more, no less than the requirement asks

Edited by Jameson76
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Yet for some reason we need a virtue signaling merit badge for it.  Every other citizenship MB deals with some governmental structure and the Scout's position in it.  This one is essentially application of the Oath and Law.  You could do the same thing with Scoutmaster Minutes.

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17 hours ago, IronicallyNamed said:

A scout turned in a blue card to a MBC for the newly Eagle required Citizenship in Society Merit Badge  with a requirement which reads "with your parents permission, have a conversation with someone with a different trait."

Their parent specifically would not give permission "due to their beliefs."

Since the requirement states that a parent's permission is required and that permission is not given, seems that the scout has met the requirement.  BSA gave the scout an out with the parent's permission required statement.  Seems reasonable that if 1) the MB is eagle required, and 2) there is this caveat, then 3) the absence of said permission does not negate the entire MB, just that specific requirement. 

Having said that, and adult bias aside, I think the MB is very effective in prompting good discussions on some serious issues. 

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21 minutes ago, Navybone said:

Since the requirement states that a parent's permission is required and that permission is not given, seems that the scout has met the requirement.  BSA gave the scout an out with the parent's permission required statement.  Seems reasonable that if 1) the MB is eagle required, and 2) there is this caveat, then 3) the absence of said permission does not negate the entire MB, just that specific requirement. 

Having said that, and adult bias aside, I think the MB is very effective in prompting good discussions on some serious issues. 

Good insight. Thanks for the help.

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