Why Scouting?

Hi Readers! At the conference on the importance of play that I went to last week, I met Cindy Wilson, the communications director at Playworks. Playworks helps ensure kids get the chance to play at school every day. Yay! Their “recess coaches” taught some unbelievably fun games at the conference that had me — who literally got a “D” in gym  — running around and laughing and not feeling like the girl who could never touch her toes. (Which I am. But still. Here’s where you can find how to play a lot of their games.)

Anyhow,  Cindy’s husband is a scoutmaster in Oakland, Cal., and here’s the speech he delivered last night at his troop’s “Court of Honor,” where scouts advance to the next level. I loved it, and not just because my boys are Scouts:


Court of Honor Scoutmaster Moment, by Rick Prime

Tonight I thought I would reflect on how Boy Scouts is relevant today, especially in the modern world.  To a certain extent, I am talking to our older scouts tonight. We have five juniors in our troop who are contemplating the challenge of making Eagle rank. I want to address some of the social pressures they will encounter and why staying with the scouts is the right thing to do.

There were three things that made me think of this topic. The first was the story of Steven Fong, a recent Eagle from this troop, on the way to Philmont (which is considered a Mecca of sorts to Boy Scouts).  The second is from a book, Boys Adrift, which I read recently about the wrong way boys are being raised.  And the third is my own personal experience in high school.

I learned the Steven Fong story at our last Eagle court of honor, in January 2009.   We were honoring four Eagles, Steven Fong, Robert Amy, Mark Bennett, and Derrick Breska. Mr. Kelley, who is here tonight, gave a speech about Steven Fong which summarized his accomplishments and touched on his personality. Part of it was a funny story about traveling in uniform to Philmont. We travel in uniform, particularly high adventure, because it is the BSA policy and as such we are covered under their liability insurance. The boys were at the airport on their way to Santa Fe, on their way to high adventure at the Philmont Scout Reservation. Steven kept ducking into the bathroom and Mr. Kelley was wondering if he had an acute case of diarrhea because he kept running into the bathroom. Turned out he was embarrassed to seen by some girl from his high school in his Boy Scout uniform. I am sure Mr. Kelley gave him a speech about being comfortable in his own skin and I am sure Steven is today.

Steven Fong, and any Boy Scout, is in incredible demand in today’s world because people with character are a scarce resource.

To a certain extent, our world needs more leaders. Yet I feel the bar has been lowered as far as the job our society is doing in raising them.

I recently read a book, Boys Adrift, recommended by one of our scout moms, Diane Jacobson. The thesis of the book is that we have the wrong formula for raising boys. This is due to starting school before they may be ready, tending to over prescribe them to ADD drugs, and letting them spend too many hours on video games instead of reality.  The thesis about school is that everything has moved up. Kindergarten is now what first grade used to be like. If a boy acts, well, like a boy, teachers begin to have awkward conversations with parents about medicating them. The book describes how being overly politically correct, we may be stifling creativity in boys. If a boy writes a story that would be akin to a chapter out of a Earnest Hemingway book, he is expelled for writing about guns or violence.

The symptom of these problems with education and using video games as an inexpensive baby sitter is the trend of less boys going to college. 40 years ago, the majority of college graduates were men. Now, it has been reported, 60 percent of college graduates are women. For the first time in our history, we have as many women PhDs as men.  Because our culture has glorified escapism and the slacker anti-hero, we are raising a nation of slackers. I feel even worse about the women. The challenge for women who graduate from college is to date a man that is not still living at home with his parents at age 25.

The boys in this room are fighting this trend.  I know it because I have met some of the scouts that graduated from our troop. Dennis Fong, Steven Fong’s dad, would have an annual Christmas Party that I was fortunate to attend. Some of you may know Mr. Fong because he was one of the adult leaders who gave back to the troop tirelessly. In Mr. Fong’s case, he was our recruiting coordinator.

In any case, Steven and his cohorts, who were other Boy Scouts from our troop that had gone to college, were at the party during their winter break.

I was struck by the quality of the girlfriends they brought with them. But I guess I shouldn’t be. What women wouldn’t want a guy sent to college who already knows how to cook and clean? What can be worse during a romantic moment in front of a fireplace than a man that doesn’t know how to start a fire? I don’t have to worry about it in this room.  In all seriousness, our boys are successful because they understand leadership, have character and they know critical life skills.

My own personal story validates this in an indirect way. Unfortunately, I dropped out of scouts early because I didn’t know anyone in the troop my parents put me in. However, my best friend in high school in Wisconsin was a Boy Scout. I remember in my senior year biology class when the class was planning a field trip to go rafting all day on the wolf river, in northern Wisconsin. It is six hours of class 3 and 4 rapids. We were to split into groups of two to a raft. To my astonishment, the two most attractive and popular girls in the class came up to me and my scout friend and asked if they could pair up with us. In my adolescent mind, I thought that god was wiping the slate clean in one magnanimous act for all the perceived injustices I had endured as a middle school and high school boy.

So we got up a 6 am and took yellow school buses 3 hours north on that cool fall day to the Wolf River outside of Green Bay. It was a drizzling rainy grey morning as we rafted in pairs pass Birch trees with fall leaves everywhere. It was fun but we got soaking wet and capsized on many of the rapids.  One of the girls started to get mild hypothermia.  My scout friend knew what to do. We went into the woods and he put together a roaring fire. I was standing there watching these appreciative girls warm up and it finally struck me what was going on.  My experience wasn’t divine intervention. This girls knew the best one to be with was my Boy Scout friend and me by association.

In closing, I believe in our program of developing leadership, character and life skills because it is more relevant than ever. I suppose there are some things I would change, like make the BSA image more inclusive or outsource the design of the uniforms to REI or Nike.

However, I also see is that the desire for quality men is the same today as it was 35 years ago. What has changed is it is harder to develop good men because there are so many distractions in our world that did not exist like the Internet, electronic devices, and 24 hour media. The world is more complicated because we live more complicated lives. And yet, the demand for leaders is greater because of the challenges we have in the modern world.

It is the same earth, but we have grown in this short time from 3.5 billion to 7 billion people.  The outdoor code, to be conservation minded is no longer quaint — it is part of the solution. To do your best, To be prepared, To have character and leadership… This is what we need.  And this is what I expect. Thank you. — R.P.

210 Responses

  1. There is just one small problem, whish is the religiosity and rampant homophobia and discrimination rampantin the scouts.

  2. I suppose if you’re not an agnostic, athiest, gay, lesbian or bisexual teen and can look past the blatant sexism in the description, it’s a great message.

  3. Agree with Anthony — when I was a kid, I was in a Boy Scout troop and valued the experience. Unfortunately, given what the BSA has become over the last decade, I won’t allow my son the same experience.

    My wife is a Gold Award-earning Girl Scout, and still active with Girl Scouts — before our daughter was old enough to be in a troop, she was a trainer; now that our daughter is in a troop, my wife is an assistant troop leader.

    I know my son (the younger sibling) will want to join a group like my daughter’s (and wife’s) Girl Scout troop — since BSA has lost its way, what options do I have?

  4. Thanks for this post, Lenore! Boy Scouts have taught me what to do when there was trouble and because of this my parents never had to worry about where I was or what I was doing. I hope to instill the same self-reliance with my 8 year old. Even to this day, as a leader for my son’s pack, I am still acquiring to skills along with my son. GO SCOUTS!

  5. My son tried boy scouts and hated every second of it. His group was very structured. No talking allowed, had to do this, this, this and that, in order, no room to question anything, it was very by the book and military like. They weren’t even allowed to speak until asked to. Not only that, but friends of mine can’t be leaders because they are gay, even though they are great people and would make great leaders, and Jesus was constantly pushed on us even though we are non-religious. They always wanted to pray with us and we were invited to church every week. My son lasted 2 months before he said he just hated it and never wanted to go back. I didn’t blame him at all. Very non-free range. I hope that the group we were involved with was just an anomaly and they aren’t all like that.

  6. I’d like to add, however, that I loved Girl Scouts. I was a girl scout from grades 2 – college and worked for the council. Great program! Secular. Fun. I was happy. I wish boy scouts were more like girl scouts!

  7. The Boy Scouts are terrific – unless you happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, non-Christian, etc. This blatantly homophobic group should look to the Girl Scouts of America as role models of honorable leadership. As the mother of a baby girl I am happy that, as of right now, I do not have to anticipate problems with the boy scouts of america in the future. When/if we have another child and have a boy I guess we’ll deal with issues at that time.

  8. While I share the same hesitation as many of the folks who have written comments, I am a mom of two boys and a cub scout leader. Given that my boys are 10 and 7, the subject of BSA’s stance on homosexuality hasn’t yet arisen. Still, we have discussed the subject when it’s come up. I’ve answered questions about the word “gay,” and about people with “partners.” They have heard it from me before and will hear it again. Love is love. And if / when there comes a point at which my kids find that their belief system runs contradictory to that of BSA, I’m hoping I will have taught them well enough to recognize the injustice.

    As far as the scoutmaster’s words, go, thank you! I’m passing this post along to the other leaders in my pack.

  9. Well, from reading the above comments, I’m glad I don’t have any experiences to sully my impression of the concept behind the scouts. It’s a great concept. I also think that like most things, the politics probably don’t figure much into the day to day activities. (I note without judgment that people say the GSA is too infused with homosexuality, so I guess the two organizations don’t have much in common, politically at least.)

    I just wanted to say that I got D’s in gym too! And I happened to be quite healthy, strong, and fast. Ha! It was all about non-comformity with what girls are supposed to be interested in. Like that “cute” (gag) rock singer from Australia, or whatever. Rah, rah, rah! Not to mention obsession over how our bodies looked (or didn’t). I hated the fact that (a) gym was required and (b) gym affected my GPA! One year I even got a doctor’s excuse to sit out a quarter. Blah!

    In college, I was training to be a teacher, so I had to take a class in teaching gym. I heard lots of good ideas about inclusion, etc. One gym teacher (whom I met during student teaching) actually managed to apply those concepts – and his students seemed to thrive on them. So maybe there is hope. But still, I don’t understand why gym is a graded activity. Too big-brother-ish in my opinion.

  10. Boy Scouts is different from city to city, from troop to troop. While it’s true that the national organization is not at all inclusive and needs to change, each troop is invidivual and reflective of the families who are part of it. I had a friend who dropped out because he hated the religious doctrine, but my experience is that of a welcoming group that was particularly good for boys who may not otherwise get the chance to experience the outdoors. Regardless, thanks for posting this. We really do need to find more ways to positively develop young men. For many, the right troop can be the difference.

  11. Lainie, as a woman, if the overall organization’s homophobic stance doesn’t bother you (or the religiosity either), how do you feel about the sexism inherent in that speech? That girls (and by extension women), especially if they’re pretty and popular, need to be protected and saved by the boys/men.

    Personally, I found the entire speech one that could well have been written in the 1950s, save the references to online media.

  12. The concepts are great. And I know people who have gotten (and given) a tremendous amount to the organization. But I am dismayed by the BSA’s stance on homosexuality, particularly in contrast to the GSA’s stance.

    But I also think that one’s experiences depend almost entirely on what troop one joins–and that’s true of either organization.

  13. I used to be supportive of scouting too, but I will not send my son to Boy Scouts as long as their policy is that boys and scout leaders must (1) be straight, and (2) believe in God. It is too bad that an organization that does many good things is not more tolerant of difference.

  14. Glad to see I am not the only one that wanted to comment about the homophobia and forced Christianity of the Boy Scouts. Personally, I’d rather raise leaders who have the character to stand up to such injustice.

  15. I will note that all those negative comments made above about boy scouts are equally true of most places of worship (not just Christian, by the way). Parents could keep their kids out of all these activities, or, as mentioned by Lainie, teach their kids how to think about differences. I think it’s better that kids learn about different viewpoints while they are still young enough to learn from their parents. You know, “Junior, some people believe A, some believe B, but I believe C because ___. You will need to be respectful of others’ viewpoints as you figure out your own.” Ultimately, your child won’t accept homophobia, etc., if he knows you don’t accept it.

  16. @SKL Yes, but most places of worship don’t forbid entrance to someone who doesn’t believe in the tenets of the religion. The Boy Scouts does. In order to be a scout my son would have to lie about his belief in God; the rule of the organization is that agnostics are not allowed. Asking my child to lie in order to participate is counterproductive to my effort to get my children to stand up for what they believe in as well as learn about the beliefs of others.

  17. SKL — If you belong to (hence endorse) an organization that actively discriminates against others, then you are at best sending your child mixed messages. It would be like belonging to a “whites only” club, but telling your kids that people of colour are still of equal value.

  18. I think its a shame that so much focus has been put on the negativity associated with Scouting. Yes, Scouting has room for improvement. But it has been the highlight of my son’s life and an positive experience for so many. He’s about to make Eagle rank and I’m immensely proud of him.

  19. I agree with many of the others. Although the idea behind the boy scouts is great because of their religious stance I can’t, in good conscience, let my son join. For one we’re atheist so right off the bat we’re not wanted at the national level. My son would have to lie about believing in a god to join (which I’ve been told to let him do because it doesn’t really matter…funny, I thought we were supposed to teach our kids not to lie). And even if he did believe in a god (which he might for all I know, he’s 9, went to Catholic school for 3 years but we don’t discuss religion in the house) I just can’t get past their discriminatory practices. I try to teach my kids to accept and include everything. The BSA blatantly goes against one of my core beliefs.
    Which is sad for my son. My girls have done GSA. My 8yo just got done with her 2nd year of Daisies and my older daughter was a Brownie for a couple years. My 8yo absolutely LOVED Daisies. We haven’t found a Brownie troop for her since we moved.

  20. On this, the day that the Gay Rights Organization GLAAD, has asked everyone to join together and combat the hatred, despair, and isolation that has caused so many young gay people to commit suicide, I find this a sadly ironic topic of conversation.

    Hatred is hatred and no amount of camaraderie or knot tying or outdoor skills will ever make up for that hatred.

    I understand that some scout masters bend the rules and are more lenient, which is sort of nice, but they are supporting a bigoted, hateful organization all the while, which is not nice at all. It’s not nice to the point of being cringe-worthy whenever I hear anyone try to justify involvement in an organization that has gone so far to marginalize and harm so many innocent children. I don’t get how anyone can support an organization which has gone so far to tell so many children that they are worthless and unwelcome.

    As a family, we steadfastly refuse to put our children in a position where they will be exposed to thinking that gays and atheists are bad people, undeserving of the same guidance as straight people or religious people.

    So no Boy Scouts, ever.

    We refuse to raise bigots and wouldn’t allow our kids to join a racist organization for the exact same reason. Hatred is hatred and all prejudicial hatred is terrible.

    I was a Girl Scout, and our family continues to support Girl Scouting. My husband was a Boy Scout and is sad that the organization he knew has taken such a nasty, vile turn for the worse.

  21. Thank you for passing this along.
    As one with some 50 years in the Boy Scouts of America (and a former Cadette Girl Scout leader, too), I have always thought of Scouting as a little like milk–it has something for everyone.
    But then, there are those few who are allergic to milk.
    The Boy Scouts of America is not a Christian organization. An example would be my old troop. It was very large, sponsored by a Catholic parish, and its members all accepted the “duty to God” part of the Scout Oath…the Catholics, the Protestants, the Jews, the Muslim, and our Buddhist Eagle Scout. Scouting has never defined how a boy should meet this obligation, but leaves this facet of the boy’s life to him and his family.
    The “gay problem”. The only way this has ever been a problem is detractors suggesting that “Scouts are gay, and they’ll make you gay too.” Not a very scientific thesis.
    In all my years, the sexual orientation of a Scout or Scout leader has never been brought up in my presence.

  22. @Jen, you of all people should know that a religious stance is a grave threat to intellect, character, and tolerance.

    @Dean, sorry, I call total BS.

  23. As the parent of a scout, I can say that hatred, hate speech and intolerance are not tolerated in Boy Scouts. In fact, some of the comments here are downright hateful. One of the scouting tenets is for reverance to all religions. BSA politics stink, but to call it hateful and intolerant is simply incorrect. Any boy that commits any type of hate or sexist speech or any act of intolerance would be disciplined not only by the adult leaders, but by his peers in scouting as well.

    Some of these comments make it sound like these boys, who really are doing some great things in the community, are the human embodiment of Nazis.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Condemn the misguided policies of the BSA (and they deserve to be), but for give credit to these boys that are out doing good things for the community and exemplifying the best in what we want our boys AND OUR GIRLS to be. Individuals of honor and character, with some life skills to boot. The last thing we’re trying to do is raise bigots, and those of you who have intimated such should apologize to these boys. Geez.

  24. I grew up in Canadian Girl Guides and later joined Boy Scouts when it was opened as co-ed (Venturers and Rovers, although it’s now co-ed much younger) and sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it, but it definitely shaped who I am today. The organizations’ outlooks on LGBT members and leaders are completely different — 100% welcoming, and have dropped the religious tones. I honestly think that this is coinciding with Lord and Lady Baden-Powell’s desire that the kids in Scouting grow up to be self-sufficient, kind, capable and wanting to help out their fellow people — at the time, for them, the Church was a good way to help instill these qualities, but these days it’s much less a part of many peoples’ lives and Scouting has had to adapt.

    I recently had to have a background check to continue to be a Brownie leader, which was pretty saddening to me, but it’s a result of provincial laws of volunteering with children and not regulations within the organization itself.

    I’ve also read Boys Adrift and the book really bothered me in a lot of ways, but this article isn’t about the speech or the organization but the message behind it.

    Scouting is about handing kids pocketknives, teaching them to be self-sufficient, but also teaching them general social rules of teamwork, friendship, leadership and decency. It’s important today of all days to try and find the good points of teaching kids that being TFAs is not okay, and in the right hands Scouting is a great way to do this. In the wrong, well, it’s just another over-scheduled block in a kid’s week. I hope that more people can have the experiences I’ve had in Scouting but it sounds like the organization elsewhere needs the work of people wanting to pass on a lot of the values of free-range folks as leaders (and leaders do have a voice in policy, especially changing policies of discrimination that sound so rampant).

  25. @Sally, I agree. Boy Souts have tremendous potential. Where ese can one learn the same life lessons? The moment it drops its anti-gay stance and pro-religion stance, I will be pleased to have my son be a member. But until then, even the most beautifully painted room in the world is fundamentally unsound if the foundation the room is built on is unsound.

  26. So… my son should be a Boy Scout because it will help him score with the ladies?

    Seriously, though, I would love for him to be in Scouting when he’s old enough, but it’ll be hard for me to look my gay friends in the face if we join. Does anyone know if there are other boys’ organizations that build character, teach wilderness skills etc but also allow gay people to participate?

  27. My son was in scouting for a while, but when my husband got sent out on training (he was in the military then) and could no longer go with hime he lost interest. I took him and stayed with him but it wasn’t the same. So I don’t think it was scouting so much that makes these boys what they are but the ability to spend quality time with their fathers. Good old male bonding .. there is no substitue for a young man.

  28. Like others, I wish there was a uniformly inclusive alternative to the boy scouts. As it is, some groups are way more tolerant than others, but I would feel very uncomfortable supporting the scouts because of the intolerant aspect.

    I wouldn’t have been the scout type, anyway — I’d have hated it — but it would be nice if the opportunity existed for people who didn’t fit the social norms, or for those who don’t want them enforced at the expense of others.

  29. @Dean –really? This kid’s dad can’t be a scout leader, because the dad is gay. How much clearer does the discrimination need to be? They kicked a child out for being an atheist, and won’t allow atheist or Mormom scout leaders. @Cathy, the fact that they would reprimand a kid for using the f-word, or saying something else hateful, is really irrelevant, when they’re saying that gay people are not good enough to be a part of their organization. Way to prepare our nation’s boys for the future–the heterosexual, Christian future.

    http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2010/10/20/boys-scouts-ignore-purple-day-demote-gay-dad/

    Also pissed me off that he mentioned having an equal number of male and female PhDs as a bad thing for men–why is it when things are EQUAL, it is seen as women coming out on top?

  30. Yeah, I was in Cub Scouts back when I was a kid and had some fun. The Webelos program (which is for Cub Scouts over 10 years old) seemed less organized and lame. Our new den leader was a dolt and I didn’t really like the other kids in the new den, so after one absolutely horrific den meeting, I quit. On the other hand, my brother absolutely loved the whole thing and got the “Arrow of Light”. Of course, he was in it with all of his friends, which might have made it more fun.

  31. Apparently they have no problem taking money from a gay scout leader.

    I’m sorry, but no matter how much “good” the scouts claim to do for kids, there is no way I’m letting my son join such a prejudiced organization. They’re totally hypocritical.

  32. Sorry the Boy Scouts promote hate by excluding both Atheists and gays. It is an unhealthy environment for children.

  33. I was a happy Boy Scout—in a small Midwestern town—and I never saw any institutionalized discrimination. It probably helped that we were a very homogenous bunch and had a caring and enthusiastic leader. I learned self reliance, organization, teamwork, and a set of skills that bolstered my competence and confidence.

    I am very sad that the BSA has turned into a homophobic organization influenced so heavily by religious zealots. I’m sure there are still individual quality troops out there, but I wouldn’t risk exposing my kid without some serious scrutiny.

  34. I think Michelle put it pretty well. No amount of good deeds and good intentions can compensate for a ignorance, hate, and discrimination.

    I was a Cub Scout / Weblo from ages 8-12 and did all kinds of fun things like learning how to us a pocket knife and makeong a pinewood derby car. However, as an atheist I refuse to endorse a group with hateful policies.

    Anyone supporting the Boy Scouts is also endorsing all their policies. If you disagree with their policies, don’t excuse them, demand that they change.

  35. Like many, I’ve searched for alternatives as I cannot in good conscience let my son join an organization that has such bad politics. As a queer mom, it isn’t going to fly in this house.

    But I have found:
    4-H
    Spiral Scouts
    Junior Grange
    Campfire USA
    and
    Adventure Guides through the YMCA

    My son isn’t quite old enough for some, and there aren’t groups near me in others…but its good to have a list of alternatives when he does get old enough.

  36. When I was a new mom, I had several co-workers and friends who came to me unbidden and urged me not to put my boys in scouting. Each one had the same reason – they had been molested for years by their scoutmaster. These men didn’t know each other. It was somewhat traumatizing for me to hear it.
    I also had a friend who worked at BSA headquarters, who told me they have rules in place to keep that from happening, and that molestation was really very rare. I countered that if I accept that it was rare, then the fact that all these men (possibly the *only* Boy Scouts ever molested) warned me against the organization was akin to a sign from the heavens. I still considered it, but they weren’t interested.
    THAT said, I wouldn’t touch ’em with ten foot pole now for, basically, being systemically discriminatory and evil. Sure, as a private organization they can make whatever rules they want – as a private individual, can say what I like about them, which is that I’d rather send my sons alone into the woods with a hatchet than support BSA in any way. EVER.

  37. It is troubling to see so many hateful and prejudiced comments from people claiming to be anti-hate and prejudice. Scout national policy is bad. Period. It is unacceptable and out of date and must be changed. In fact, it’s arguable that the military is more progressive than the scout.

    But the adult boy scout leaders I know (and of course there may be exceptions) are exemplary adults that are doing a service to many boys who may otherwise be lost. I don’t know ANY scout leader who would stand for any kind of behavior that was less than tolerant. Not one. But there aren’t a lot of other organizations that offer boys the same opportunities. And I think we can all agree that without the national policy in Texas, BSA would be a find organization. Unfortunately it’s allow we’ve got unless we want to take an opportunity away from the boys. Clearly many have made that decision for their own child. Would you do it for another?

    Let’s talk about the boys for a minute. In our haste to be judgmental about bad policy, we have forgotten that for the boys, scouting is an opportunity for boys to build enduring friendships, learn some great skills and maybe even make a difference in their community. It is also an opportunity for adults who care about social justice and issues to impress upon them the importance of living in a fair and unbiased society and to help these boys build character. These are lessons that are often hard to learn in urban areas where the N and F words are too often a part of the acceptable venacular. Scouts look to their troops as ways to enjoy outdoor activities with peers who share their interest, and believe me, racism, sexism and homophobia are unacceptable our troop (and in the others I’ve come into contact with).

    The adult leaders I know are very well of national policy, but see their opportunity to serve their community by helping these boys out are well-intentioned. They are not the prejudiced, hateful religious zealots depicted here. They leave that to the national policy. Instead, they are looking to help develop strong community members who also like to be outdoors. Many of these boys, particularly in urban areas, may not get that chance. Should we deny them because we don’t like national policies, when we know full well that the local groups do not support them?

    Sooooo. Talk is cheap and I’ve said enough.

    Who here has an alternative for these boys? Please, speak up! Step up. Light the way. You are needed and wanted. It’s easy to complain and project your viewpoints, but it’s hard work to create a group and culture that actually does something that develops character and skills. Talk is cheap.

  38. BSA is banned at my house. We don’t buy from the fundraisers, and our boys are not Scouts. We do not give money to Scout sponsored projects.

    We refuse to support or endorse in any way a group that publicly and blatantly engages in discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We won’t lie for them to participate, either. There will be no pledge to “do my duty to God”, neither will there be any horseshit posturing about respecting and defending all people when the BSA does everything but.

    Spare me the “different from troop to troop” arguments – as long as the BSA’s OFFICIAL POLICY is discrimination, they can pound sand. We’ve done a fine job of teaching our sons conservationism all by ourselves, with zero help from an organization that promotes active bigotry.

  39. I love freerange, but I must say, the posts I’m reading here are really disappointing.

    The Boy Scouts require being “straight” and an allegiance to God, supposedly anyway. My reply–so what? What do you expect? Do you expect the NRA to welcome you as a member if you’re a well-know gun control advocate? Would you expect a Jewish Family Center group to welcome you if you’re anti-Jewish? I wouldn’t, it has nothing to do with hatred or bigotry in my book.

    Believe me, I am glad segregation is in the past–I don’t advocate separate whites-only bathrooms, water fountains–heck I’ve been known to frequent churches dominated by African-Americans & was very welcome there. The church I attended growing-up looked on very disapprovingly if any African-Americans entered & I despised this.

    But sorry, I don’t see any hatred or bigotry here. Many churches I know have men’s only groups & women’s only groups, no one considers it bigoted or discriminatory. I think the same with this.

    LRH

  40. Cindy writes:

    Who here has an alternative for these boys? Please, speak up! Step up. Light the way.

    In your self-righteous haste, you seem to have overlooked something.

  41. One problem with Boy Scouts (and Girl Guides) as well as other childrens organizations that are involved with trying to teach kids these skills, is that the organizations are increasingly falling prey to CYA syndrome, and their lawyers/insurers are writing the rules. As a Girl Guide leader for the older girls, there are tons of safe and reasonable activities that we are not allowed to do, or if we are, there are significant restrictions put on us because of “risk” and it has gotten worse over time. These days, the people who approve our events, which mostly fall into the category of outdoor activity, are more concerned with whether we’ve filled out the GG internal forms correctly, instead of being concerned with actual SAFETY. As a leader it really changes my focus in a very annoying way, from what I think is actually risky to what I regard as being a complete pain.

  42. One thing that surprises me in all these comments is why does every group have to cater to every kind of individual to be a quality group?

    It seems in today’s PC world we are trying to make every group as generic as possible and I think that’s unfortunate.

    In my 30+ yrs in Scouting I have never witnessed someone’s religious beliefs or sexual preference be an issue unless the person themselves made it an issue.

  43. I just want to point out to everybody that the hyper-religiosity and homophobia associated with the BSA’s national leadership is a peculiarly US thing; it is not present in Canada, the UK, or other countries that have Scouting organizations.

    IMHO, the real problem with the BSA is that it’s morphed from a volunteer-run organization with a small paid administrative staff that mostly handled clerical matters to an organization run by paid executives who see it as a way to gain power and money. I suspect, but cannot prove, that some of the paid leadership is really trying to get their hands on BSA-owned real estate and profit from selling it to developers.

  44. @Cathy, my boys are not allowed to be in the Boy Scouts of America. We are atheist, and the group went to the Supreme Court in order to protect its right to keep kids like mine out of the group. The website for the Boy Scouts of America directly says that people like me and like my children absolutely cannot be the best kind of citizen. The group statement on gay boys and men (not only that they can’t be members, but that they are incapable of being moral people) also strikes me as, well, not particularly loving. These statements ARE pretty nasty, sweeping statements to make about groups of people. Those statements are hate speech, and they’re being made straight from the top of the organization.

    I’ve tried to teach my boys, who ave been heavily pressured at school to join the group, not to hold it against their classmates who are in the organization. It is likely the younger boys who are scouts don’t know about this stuff, and my kids are still in elementary school. That said, am I supposed to have warm, fuzzy, supportive feelings about a group that outright tells my boys that they couldn’t join unless they found God and that they can’t be good citizens? Am I not to be suspicious of what people who would put such things on their website as policy and who would push the matter to the highest court in the land would be teaching about people like me and my children?

    Because of the assertiveness of BSA in the public schools, I had to teach my boys at the ripe age of five years old that the group finds them unacceptable, and not for anything they have done. I showed them the statement when telling why we couldn’t join. When I told them that the group also discriminates against gay boys and men, they were appalled at that as well. Unfortunately, this is something people like me can’t fix from the outside. The most I can do is withhold my boys (who are not welcome anyway) and monetary/social support.

    One of Rick Prime’s assertions is that the BSA needs to make its image more inclusive, and I really think he’s wrong here. The thing that would make the BSA’s image more inclusive is to actually be inclusive. Until then, I’ll stick with 4-H, thanks. They’re happy to accept my boys as full members and won’t force them to lie in order to join or stick with the group.

  45. We all have the right – the duty, even – to support organizations that do good, and to withhold our support from organizations we disapprove of.

    BSA is a Mormon institution, and teh Mormons hate the gays. Mormons are nice people. Boy Scouters are nice people. I’m still not having anything to do with the organizations, supporting their political etc. agendas. There are options, and we support them.

  46. No Boy Scouts for us. Like others, I will not let my boys join an organization that discriminates against gays and atheists. They do good work. I understand why others (even those who are bothered by their bigoted policies) let their kids join and I respect that. But I won’t suggest it. If one of my sons independently wanted to join, I would consider it, but it seems unlikely as few people we know participate for similar reasons.

    There are alternatives. We were invited to join an Earth Scouts troop, but couldn’t because of the timing, but may in the future. I hate that the Boy Scouts make these issues so political, but it is not others pushing them on the scouts, it’s the scouts insisting on these outdated policies.

  47. @Olivia: BSA is not a Mormon organization. Some troops don’t like the Mormons, either: NC Church: Mormon Parents Not Qualified To Be Cub Scout Leaders

    http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/105310173.html

    Thanks also to the poster who listed Boy Scout alternatives. I was in 4-H for years but am looking for an organization that emphasizes camping and outdoor skills.

  48. @Cindy, 4-H is a good group for teaching character and skills to kids, and it doesn’t discriminate the way the Boy Scouts do. Camp Fire USA also doesn’t discriminate, and there are alternative groups out there such as the Spiral Scouts.

    We don’t have to re-invent the wheel here. My choice was simply to put my kids in another group and direct my support that way. Maybe if more people do so, the board of directors at the BSA will learn and change their policies. Maybe that won’t happen, I don’t know, but at least those other groups that also build character and skills while not discriminating would be getting some benefit.

  49. I was going to post about the dad who’s been banned from wearing his cub scout shirt, but I’m so glad others got there first.

    It’s really a sad thing. Scouting has so much to offer, but “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t really work any better in Boy Scouts than it does in the army.

  50. @Larry, in my view the BSA is free to do what it wants. But what it wants is to exclude my boys.

  51. Craig writes:

    In my 30+ yrs in Scouting I have never witnessed someone’s religious beliefs or sexual preference be an issue unless the person themselves made it an issue.

    In other words, they need to just shut up and pretend to be straight and Christian?

    Yeah, no. There’s nothing “PC” about expecting organizations to not be discriminatory. Normal folk call it “common decency”.

  52. Cindy wrote:

    Let’s talk about the boys for a minute. In our haste to be judgmental about bad policy, we have forgotten that for the boys, scouting is an opportunity for boys to build enduring friendships, learn some great skills and maybe even make a difference in their community.

    Well, some boys anyway. Gay and atheist boys don’t count, do they? They don’t get to be scouts because they aren’t of value.
    Officially, those boys aren’t worthy of Boy Scouts. Officially, Boy Scouts has gone to great and expensive lengths to show those boys just how much they aren’t wanted.
    And officially, every single time you support Boy Scouts, you support that prejudice and that bigotry.
    You support the idea that those boys are without value and you support the idea that those boys should be shunned.

    It is also an opportunity for adults who care about social justice and issues to impress upon them the importance of living in a fair and unbiased society and to help these boys build character.

    It is naive at best pretend that you can teach character and “the importance of living in a fair and unbiased society” (your words) when Boy Scouts exclude people because they are gay or atheist.

    That is as unfair and biased as it gets.

    So, yeah. Lets talk about the boys for a minute. Lets talk about the boys that Boy Scouts say are unworthy. Let’s talk about what you teach your children when you say that it’s ok to exclude gays and atheists from your supposedly valuable program.

    Please, tell me why it is acceptable to exclude some boys. Please tell me why you support an organization which has made it crystal clear that some boys are to be shunned and shut out of your fine organization.

  53. I have to agree that I see a lot of hate and intolerance here. I thought the reason they don’t allow gay scout leaders is because of CYA relating to actual cases of molestation. Right or wrong, that does not equal hate. Also, the fact that they acknowledge their belief in God does not equal hate. If you don’t want to “serve God and country,” fine and dandy, but don’t call those who promote that “hateful.” That in itself looks to me like hate against believers in God(s).

    Also, there is no organization anywhere that does not discriminate. So if you won’t put your kids in any organization that discriminates, then I guess your kids won’t be in any activity, school, club, or religious organization.

  54. My son is in Beavers here in Canada and, as others have noted, the homophobia/religious concerns present in the U.S. are not an issue here.

    Scouts is co-ed in Canada, but my son’s group is all boys and I have noticed it is the first activity he has been in that really celebrates him being a boy and let’s him be a boy. There’s lots of running around, being loud, playing outside, and filling pockets with rocks and leaves.

    Regarding the speech — it did sound a little 1950’s, however it probably delivered better as a speech than a written piece. The speaker may well have conveyed subtleties of meaning with his tone and expressions that are not apparent to us reading the written version.
    (I don’t know for certain he did that, I’m just saying it’s possible.)

  55. @SKL, no, here is the reasoning given in an official BSA position statement in 1991:

    “We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout oath that a Scout be morally straight and that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”

    So……gay men and gay teens cannot be moral and they are dirty. That is why they’re not allowed in the BSA.

  56. Cindy, Larry, and whoever else is saying we’re being “hateful” for our disapproval of the BSA – Regardless of what an individual troupe has or hasn’t done, it’s still the official policy that non-Christians and non-heterosexuals cannot join. Why is it considered hate to express feelings of disapproval and to say that we’re not going to support a group that runs contrary to our beliefs (particularly when they’re ones as important as sexuality and religion)?

    As for the NRA question posed by Larry, why would a pro-gun-control advocate want to join the NRA to begin with? Like many of us and the BSA, their beliefs run contrary to one another. The pro-gun-control advocate wouldn’t want to endorse an organization that runs contrary to his/her beliefs, just like we don’t want to endorse an organization whose official policy runs contrary to our beliefs and values.

    If you notice, most of us have no problem with the rest of the Scouting program, and see it as a very good and beneficial thing. However, since there are core policies at the national level that go against our own values (and lying to get our kids in also goes against our values), we choose not to endorse the organization and would rather endorse organizations that don’t have such discriminatory policies.

    Mandy – I can’t speak for others, but I did pick up the sexism in that section of his speech.

    I don’t think the sexism was intentional in the rafting story. The girls didn’t know the survival techniques that were taught in Boy Scouts, so they went with the people that did know. I’d have probably done the same thing. Since they were teens, it’s also possible they liked the boys, and it was also a good excuse to spend some time with them.

    What I was more concerned with were his statements about the percentages of men and women in college, as if the percentages solely reflected a drop in men’s enrollment, instead of a rise in women’s enrollment, and this being a failure on men’s part, when in fact, the cause for the percentage change is much more complex than that.

  57. At what point do they ask boys whether they are homosexual? When they join Cub Scouts? What is the official process for finding out who’s gay and who’s not and kicking out those who are not?

    By the way, I note they said “homosexual ‘conduct,'” which is not the same as being homosexual. If scouts are engaging in sexual conduct on a camping trip (which would be homosexual conduct if only boys were around), I can see why many parents and fellow scouts would have a problem with that. I also don’t understand the need to be tolerant of that. I don’t want to send my teen son on a camping trip and find out he was exposed to that kind of behavior – but apparently I’m supposed to feel warm fuzzies about that prospect. And if I don’t, I “hate.”

    In fact, that’s one of the reasons some people don’t want their kids in girl scouts – because that sort of behavior is allegedly encouraged, and it’s not good for any of the kids – gay or straight.

    The Boy Scouts was created to be a pre-military organization. I’m surprised liberals aren’t knocking them for that, too.

    I’m not really pro or con on the Boy Scouts, but what I see above is people blowing something way out of proportion. Making it sound like each child is going to be interrogated periodically, beginning at age 6, to confirm his sexual preference. Come on.

  58. Scouting was a fantastic experience for my husband, though he really only participated from about 12 or 13 up. He made eagle scout & it’s something he’s proud of to this day. We have talked about our children participating, but since we only have a 1yo daughter now, it’s not something we have to really investigate. Scouting, like any other activity, isn’t for everyone and not just because of the national organization’s hard line stances on homosexuality and christianity. If it’s not right for you or your children, stay away. I will say I have a good friend from my college days who would love to volunteer for the BSA because it was so influential in his life, but can’t because he is gay. I find that sad and unjust.

    As for the speech, I can see how some readers could take it as sexist. But, when I was looking for someone to spend time with and eventually the rest of my life with, I was looking for capable, confident young men. This guy is saying that scouting helped form these types of young men. What is sexist about that? I believe he mentions the “graduated” scouts’ girlfriends because he was impressed with them; because they were exactly the kind of young women who DO NOT need a man to take care of them. The girlfriends were complements to the competent, confident young men who used to be in his troop.

    I was surprised to read the number of posts about great experiences with the girl scouts. I hated girl scouts… they just sat around and made barrettes with bows & ribbons and other ridiculous things. Perhaps I’ll be a bit more open minded if my daughter is interested in GSA.

  59. @Tracy, You’re right, of course. Technically it’s not a Mormon organization, though it was started by Mormons and is mostly run, at the highest levels, by Mormons. I’ve had my LDS friends tell me that their church callings (the jobs you’re asked to do in the church) sometimes were Boy Scout activities (this was in areas where the bulk of the population was LDS, though).

    The gay thing is not CYA because of molestation. They have never allowed gay scoutmasters, and suggesting that gays are necessarily pedophiles is wildly inaccurate. The molestation survivors I have worked with were all molested by married people, some of them pillars of the community.

    But that is beside the point, whether the policies are hateful and bigoted or simply unfair and ill-considered, we have the right to make other choices for ourselves and our children. And we DO have choices.

    They are free to set policy however they choose, and we are free to vote with our feet and our pocket books. Ain’t freedom grand?

  60. I have gay friends. I have non-Christian friends. My three sons called these people “Uncle Walt” and “Uncle Joe” and the like.

    So when the official stance of an organization is that gays and non-Christians are not allowed to lead my sons, well then. That makes my decision simple. We are not a Boy Scouting family, even though my father was a scoutmaster and my brother just a step shy from Eagle Scout.

    Instead, we camp and hike and geocache and etc as a family. And even at age 10, my sons know what “gay” is and how not everyone believes in God. The local troops might be don’t ask, don’t tell but the National official stance is unacceptable for my family to be part of.

  61. No, SKL, I’m saying in order for my kids, starting at the lowest levels, to be members of BSA, they are required to either lie or to convert. It’s there on the web site,they say that my boys cannot be good citizens, and they obviously consider it part of their oath. Saying this is not anti-God, it’s just a statement of fact.

    The statement about homosexual conduct is not about homosexual conduct on a BSA trip, it’s about ever engaging in homosexual activities. Shoot, that doesn’t have to be actual gay sex, that could be kissing. While they don’t grill kids on it, if it comes out that a boy is gay (which, you know, happens sometimes in one’s teens), that boy is in danger of being kicked out of scouts. Again, that is BSA policy from the top — if you’re “out” or have even been outed against your will, you can’t be moral, clean, or a good role model.

    If you want to support an organization with those policies, well, more power to you, I guess. But I’m not going to fawn over people promoting a group that actively discriminates against my children. I personally cannot change the policies, I can only ask those who are in the organization to look at the position statements for what they really are, to just for a moment stop trying to defend these policies long enough to look into their hearts and see if those sorts of values are really the ones they want to support. If those policies are worth fighting against, then those people within the organization should live up to the rest of their oath, be brave, do the ethical thing, and try to change the policy from within.

  62. Allison, if you and your boys are Athiest and therefore choose not to join an organization that acknowledges God, then that’s fine – it’s not that much different from deciding not to join the Catholic church or other large religious organization. Nobody is forcing it on anyone. But every organization discriminates. My kids can’t join the Girls Club of America because they aren’t on welfare. Should I wage a campaign saying that nobody else should let their kid join, just because it isn’t for my kids? My kids can’t join the Black Culture Club, etc. Should I organize a national protest? My kids are statistically unlikely to be able to join a gay organization, and most likely won’t qualify for an Athiest, Muslim, or Jewish one. All of that is fine; you won’t see me picketing those organizations.

    Is this really about forcing all significant organizations to avoid the mention of God?

    Scouting isn’t required for success in this country. Sure, it is one path that has proven helpful for many. But that doesn’t mean it has to be equally accessible or palateable to everyone.

  63. SKL: In Dale v. BSA (the Supreme Court case that upheld the BSA’s right to exclude gay members) the BSA leadership stated, under oath, that the exclusion was not based on concerns about sexual abuse and the leadership acknowledged that gay men were no more likely to sexually abuse boys than straight men. So it’s definitely not legal CYA; it’s a moralistic objection.

    By the way, the “homosexual conduct” that led James Dale to be kicked out of the BSA? He was mentioned in a news story about a gay group on his college campus, where he had a leadership role.

  64. @SKL “I thought the reason they don’t allow gay scout leaders is because of CYA relating to actual cases of molestation. Right or wrong, that does not equal hate.”

    Wow. That is incredibly offensive. Gay men are pedophiles? That does, in fact, equal hate. Are you aware that a majority of sexual predators, including those who molest young boys, are heterosexual?

  65. I need to defend the scouts here….

    I have been involved with the Boy Scouts with both of my kids for 8 of my last 12 years. I was a den leader for 3, had the training on how to identify sexual predators, abuse, poverty and the rules the BSA has in place to protect not only the boys, but the adults involved as well.

    The “rampant homophobia” and religious affiliations you know of are similar to the kidnappings and murders you hear about on the news every day.

    It is media warmongering.

    I have been involved with 2 different councils, in 2 different cities and have never had any problems with being an agnostic. As a family we do not have a set religious path, no once has it been noted as a problem. Our current troop is sponsored by a local church, but on church activity days, we can opt out.

    As for the avoidance of homosexuality in scouts. it is more Don’t Ask Don’t Tell from what I have seen. There is a young adult, an eagle scout, who works for the local council, was at overnight camp all summer with hundreds of boys, who is one of our neighbors and is openly gay. He is a youth leader.

    We also have one scout leader that has no familial relation to any scout in the troop. He is a close family friend of one of the boys whose parents are divorced. He is not married, has no kids of his own and often organizes spur of the moment activities for small groups, including my kids, that always include at least 1 other parent. He was my sons den leader for 2 years when he was a cub scout and is an assistant scoutmaster now with the boy scouts. If it weren’t for this man, MY sons would not have a consistent positive male role model due to their own fathers lack of involvement. My younger son would also have far fewer merit badges that I could not help him with. (fishing primarily, I have no skills at catching and cleaning fish)

    You can read about all the bad things in scouts, you can hear about all of the sensational lead stories on TV, But I can tell you that I know of at least 53 local kids who could care less about what they say on tv about scouting. Instead they have found out what it is REALLY like on their own.

  66. @ SKL “In fact, that’s one of the reasons some people don’t want their kids in girl scouts – because that sort of behavior is allegedly encouraged, and it’s not good for any of the kids – gay or straight.”

    WHAT?

    I was in Girl Scouts all the way from Brownies to Seniors and I never heard a single allegation about Scouts being lesbians. Where the heck did you hear anything about lesbian Girl Scouts?

  67. Socialjerk, be careful. I was talking about actual cases of boy scout leaders molesting multiple teen boys. OK, so maybe that’s not their main or stated reason for the policy – I wouldn’t know, it’s not a pet issue of mine.

    I never said “gay men are pedophiles,” and I am extremely offended to have my words twisted in that manner.

    Remember all the CYA stuff we read on this site. One kid flips over on a trike and the whole product line is banned. Is that hate? A few kids stop breathing in the night and every child in the USA is required to sleep in a position that is unnatural for most. Is that hate? Some scout leaders with homosexual interests molest boys and the whole organization bans homosexual scout leaders. Could just be extreme CYA, why not? I agree that if their statement says it’s not, maybe it’s not, but it’s not an outrageous assumption that CYA is at play in this situation like so many others.

    As for your implication that the majority of sexual predators who seduce / molest teen boys are heterosexual – try again. They may pretend to be heterosexual. Keep in mind we are not talking so much about little boys as teens; hence the term “pedophilia” really doesn’t even apply to most of the actual factual cases in the Scouts.

  68. @SKL All right. I completely disagree, you go ahead and be offended at me quoting your statement. But you know what they say about arguing on the internet…I’m out.

  69. @Dragonwolf, you’re right, I understand that the larger part of the anecdote wasn’t meant to come across that way. And indeed, if I’d listened to the speech myself (or a similar one) at some function, I’d have probably rolled my eyes and not given it much thought. I’d never put it on my website though and say, “I loved it.”

    With regards to the gender split and stats in post-graduate studies, I agree. There was an interesting article in the Globe and Mail (Canadian paper) about the changing face and shape of universities this past weekend.

  70. It’s not that the BSA simply gives those of faith an option to express it, that’s not what the BSA does.

    Look, I was a Girl Scout, and I have no problem with scouting in general. The Girl Scouts got over this issue a long time ago by allowing girls who do not believe to substitute the word “good” or something similar for the word “God” in the oath. There are other groups out there that similarly allow space for those who have faith to pursue that faith in more depth and who encourage them to do so, yet don’t require every member to express a faith in a deity. If I had girls, I would be quite happy to enroll them in Girl Scouts and to let them continue with it if that’s what they wanted to do. The idea that there are lesbians in the GSA doesn’t bother me a whit, though I am not lesbian.

    I am not going to pretend that the BSA is inclusive when it’s not, and I’m not going to pretend that I believe it stands for great things when it has and defends discriminatory policies. And, again, I’m just asking people to think about the policies, about whether or not they support those policies. Obviously, I can’t. I’m not going to teach my kids to lie and I question the “morals” that would be taught to them by enrolling them in a group where they would have to lie every time they recited the oath. If you honestly believe that those without faith in a god cannot be good citizens, well, I guess this is the group for you! If you honestly believe that gay people cannot be moral if they are open about their orientation, then I guess this is the group for you! Personally, I think those are bad messages.

    The BSA likes to claim that it’s inclusive, and then it has these policies. If it truly is a private religious group, it should be subject to the same rules as other private religious groups — namely, that it not use public schools as a recruiting ground, that it not demand exemption from rules that require non-discrimination in the use of facilities in various areas or exemption from rules for funding that are employed by the federal government. They should go ahead and be who they are, but they shouldn’t expect to be treated as anything other than what they are. Private religious groups generally aren’t allowed to hold recruiting assemblies at my children’s school, but the scouts are and they gladly do so.

    I’m not running a big protest unless you call speaking my mind when others bring the subject up a big protest. I’m not out picketing.

    For the record, most gay organizations I’m familiar with allow straight folks to join as supporters. This is particularly true of the groups for gay teens — they tend to be gay-straight alliances, and sometimes you’ll hear the word “ally” used in such groups to refer to the straight members. As far as I’ve seen, the truly separatist groups within the gay community are not without their own controversies stemming from the facts that they choose to remain separate and that they tend to claim to speak for the community at large. I’m heterosexual and have been a member of gay-straight alliances and concert bands associated with the LGBT community. So……I wouldn’t count out being able to participate in such things just because one is heterosexual.

  71. I wonder if Lenore Skenazy is looking at this thread with sadness–to wit, she posts an article about an organization promoting free-ranging, apparently, and all in the hell people want to do is go schizoid because it’s the Boy Scouts and they’re supposedly the biggest bunch of bigots since the Ku Klux Klan.

    Sorry this has happened, Lenore. I should’ve known that in this overly sensitive politically-correct nutzoid world that has come about, banning certain Bugs Bunny cartoons because they’re supposedly racist (I mean, Bugs Bunny, c’mon already!)–I should’ve expected this.

    SKL is right. No one is griping about the Catholic Groups and the Black Culture Groups etc & how they’re “promoting hate and “they’ve made it clear we’re not welcome.” You don’t see me complaining about the women’s-only groups at church, or the basketball leagues that–gee, what a thought–are only composed of people who can play basketball!

    We have tons of bowling leagues everywhere, I can’t bowl good enough to even dream of making it to the league; last time I bowled, it was an 80, heck 130 I think is my all-time high, ever. Should I gripe about the “hatred” of the bowling leagues not accepting me?

    Some discrimination is normal, perhaps even good. Don’t go nuts on it–why I say that, I don’t know, obviously just about everyone is going to do just that–but some discrimination is normal and perhaps even GOOD. I am not saying “some racism is good” or “some bigotry is good” or “hate can be really useful.” I’m saying, some discrimination–that is, judgment, allocation of certain types of lifestyles into common interests etc–can be a GOOD thing, or at least is very normal and not analogous to bigotry and/or racial-sexual orientation discrimination.

    It’s been going on for generations, in ways that aren’t always wrong. Home-owners associations do it all the time. Yes on a certain level, taken to a certain extent, it’s wrong, but some of it is understandable. To wit: people arrive at a certain level career-wise and social status-wise & buy into a certain neighborhood because they want to leave “trailer-hood” behind (I live in a trailer myself–in the woods, not in a park–and can understand this without taking offense!). Now that these persons have “arrived” at a certain level, they don’t want certain lifestyles polluting their immediate living area–not just their own yard, but the neighborhood around them either.

    Thus you have the rules about no junk-cars, no unsightly paint jobs to the home, approvals needed before you can expand, consent needed to have a yard sale (no one wants the extra traffic). If you’re not part of an association or subject to rules of the city, you do what you want in your own home–we do. (We’re not in a HOA nor in city limits.)

    Also, these home-owner associations throw a fit if, say, Wal Mart or some other big-box store makes plans to build a store nearby. They tell you it’s that they don’t want all the traffic, and that’s part of it, sure–but a part of it too is that they don’t want “those people” riff-raffing around their area. People are so serious about it, I recall Tucson even drafting–or attempting to draft–a “big box” ordinance for the entire city.

    These people don’t care if the neighbors are black, white, Mexican, Italian–whatever. It’s the lifestyle they don’t want around them. If such potential neighbors are considered “trashy people” of a low economic status, driving around in cars with ragged bumpers and cracked windshields, hanging their clothes out to dry in their back yard which has old tin laying around–they don’t want it near them, polluting their general neighborhood and dragging down their property values.

    I don’t live that way, where I live anything goes and I like it like that. I’m just saying, there is some type of discrimination that goes on that is considered normal or even good, it’s not racism or hatred or bigotry necessarily–and it isn’t going anywhere.

    People like me who wouldn’t want someone telling me I can’t have a junk car in my yard–to me, it’s my yard, simple as that–or telling me I have to paint my house the same color as everyone else’s, or get consent from the neighbors over every property modification I want, etc–I choose to live where I do where it’s not a problem. Case closed, problem solved.

    Not every standard is about hate and bigotry. It’s about wanting others with similar interests, believes, and values to be who you associate with. After all, this site is called freerangekids.com, not helicopterparents.com for a reason. Sure, anyone can post, but the Suzanne example with the “Dad Arrested for 5 Year Old’s Death” thread (or whatever it was called) proves just how much the desire to have a place to come to where others are like you is still a part of our culture, even in the 21st century–and I don’t know that’s necessarily wrong.

    LRH

  72. PS–even more to the point, which I meant to get to (but rambled too long with the home-owner’s association example), was this: Lenore’s topic was not necessarily a promotion of the Boy Scout’s organization in general, but rather that on the particular occasion where free-ranging type of parenting was promoted.

    In other words–this thread really had nothing to do with being pro-Boy Scouts, but pro-free-ranging–and how a certain organization was promoting that.

    In the skimming of this thread which I’ve done, I don’t think I’ve seen a single post here–and yes, that includes me too–that has even mentioned the free-ranging aspects that were promoted, and how great that was, even if nothing else was (and I’m not saying that nothing else was, but IF).

    That’s all, to me, that Lenore was trying to do–point out how a certain organization on a certain occasion was promoting free-range play. That’s what this site is really about, and to me it makes perfect sense what she did.

    Instead, it’s turned into a “bash the Boy Scouts like they’re the KKK” thread instead. Sad, and totally goofed up.

    LRH

  73. I know I replied once already, and I know I’m wordy, but I feel very strongly on this.

    WOW the hate? I thought this was FreeRangeKids, not “Listen to the media and rant”

    So many responses I want to make to individuals.

    I am sorry that some of you seem to HATE the BSA as much as you insinuate they hate gays and atheists.

    I was so bored in Girl Scouts, all I remember ever doing is selling cookies and making peanut butter bird feeders and getting bullied at overnight camp. I got NOTHING about being a strong leader out of it.

    MANY BSA troops are sponsored by houses of worship. It costs a lot of money to provide space for large groups and troops trade off volunteer work and representation for those sponsoring organizations. If BSA did NOT state that they were anti homophobic and anti atheist, then they would loose the majority of those sponsorships. The individual troops either follow the tenets of their sponsoring group or they don’t. The ones I have seen have focused more on honesty, fairness and tolerance over a set religious belief or sexual orientation. If 1 troop is devout Catholics and you are not, find another troop that more aligns with your beliefs.

    Boy Scouts started in ENGLAND 100 years ago. Not Mormon, not just American.

    The military discriminates against Gays and does not recognize every religious belief either. No one is saying they will not allow their children to defend this country because of it. it wasn’t until reciently that Wicca, undisclosed and atheist were allowed on dog tags.

    If someone does not want to support BSA that is fine, but not supporting the BOYS in it is just like not supporting individual military members because you don’t support the war or the government waging it.

    I am an agnostic, formerly in a plural marriage, single parent of 2 boys and would trust the BSA over the Boys and Girls clubs, YMCA, or 4H groups we have been part of in the last few years. They all had higher admission fees and None of them gave my family anything NEAR the positive experiences that BSA has.

  74. I met my husband at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch and am blessed to be the mom of a girl who belongs to the Venture Scout program (co ed for 14 to 21 yr. olds) for the Boy Scouts of America as well as 2 cubscouts. Mr. Prime spoke well when he set out to show that these young men, whom he was speaking to, were admirable, and desirable for the qualities that they possess. This organization fosters ideals that develop good character in young men, and young women as well.

    As I scrolled through the replies and the conversation arguing that BSA should include atheists and homosexuals in the leadership of the organization, and I wonder why a parent who is opposed to the public acknowledgement of God, and the desire to lead a straight lifestyle would want their children to belong to a group that is opposite what their own world view would acknowledge as true.
    Is the attempt to take a group, and force them to accept that homosexuality is normal behavior? How would the scout oath be different for the atheist? On what code of conduct should they base their program if not on a belief in God (that encompasses many religions…including awards for B’hai and Muslim, Protestant and Catholic etc)?

    Setting men and women in positions of leadership implies that we wish our children to follow their examples. Many still feel that sexuality in children develops, rather than is solely innate, and is especially influenced as children develop from childhood into adolescence. If leaders decide that their agendas for religion or sexuality are more important than the program they are supposed to be promoting, why should they continue to lead in that organization?

    BSA fought for the right to keep their program intact. They have the right of free association as granted by the constitution. Whether anyone agrees or not is their right of freedom of speech, but I am thankful that BSA is not afraid to set what they are about firmly and truthfully in public, even though people who have differing opinions would like to see organizations who differ from their philosophy of life disappear.

  75. ShadowL, one can be supportive of the boys as individuals without being supportive of the group or even the troops, just as one can be supportive of a kid they like but not particularly supportive of the Sunday school that kid attends and not want to buy things they’re selling to raise funds for events where they would proselytize.

    By the time my kids are old enough to join the military, they’re of majority age anyway. I don’t really have that much of a say in it at that point.

    Our 4H admission fee is $5 for the year, and that $5 is optional. I doubt the boy scouts cost less, especially after you buy the uniform. I think their yearly dues are something like $10, aren’t they?

    I do think that the flavor of any smaller group within these larger organizations has its own flavor, but frankly I just can’t support the policies at the national level, and because of that I can’t support the organization in general.

  76. Oh, and I wanted to add I didn’t get side-tracked from the free range aspect of this story, until I started skimming the comments…

    Really the idea about scouting giving opportunities for leadership and experience early on, wasn’t lost on me. Thanks Lenore!

    Looking back at my work at the Boy Scout Ranch, I can’t believe how young we were. Eighteen and nineteen yr. olds handling things like forest fires, bear incidents, weather challenges, and taking responsibility for younger kids. I was surrounded by young men and was genuinely respected, and will never forget the trust that the adults gave us during these summers.

  77. Wow. My son is being invested as a Cub Scout tomorrow and very excited, but I was getting quite the sick feeling reading all the comments here. Someone up above mentioned that these discriminatory policies are only in the U.S. so I went and peeked at the Scouts Canada website. Here is what it said in the FAQ section:

    9.   Do you have to believe in God to join Scouts Canada?  Is Scouting a Christian organization?
    No, but you must have a basic spiritual belief. Spirituality has been one of the three main principles of Scouting around the world since its inception 100 years ago.  Scouts Canada welcomes members of many different faiths and denominations; we are proud of our commitment to diversity. That said, you need not belong to an organized religion, but all leaders and youth must take the Scout Promise in good faith, and leaders should be able to include some form of spirituality in their program for the youth.“God” is the word in the Promise used to represent spirituality, and for some may represent an actual deity, but it may also mean to your family an expression of your personal spirituality.
    “Duty to God” as defined by  the World Organization of the Scouting Movement, means “a person’s relationship with the spiritual values of life, the fundamental belief in a force above mankind.”

    10.  Are homosexuals allowed to join Scouts Canada?
    Scouts Canada does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief (see above) or sexual orientation.
     
    I am, to say the least, relieved. The issue of God in the vow did come up, as my son is an avowed atheist (at nine years old, how cute is that) but he is willing to substitute “nature” or “universe”. If that ever changes and he becomes uncomfortable with it or with any of the attitudes I’m sure he’ll let us know. Until then he’ll experience a level of adventure and outdoor training that my husband and I can’t provide.

  78. I am citing my experience. I am not naive. I have found from experience (that I was initially opposed to for all the reasons cited above) that scouting is a good experience for boys, particularly for those who may not otherwise have the chance to go backpacking, hiking, camping, rafting, axe throwing, powdershooting and what not. It is particularly good for inner-city boys who may not have positive male role models.

    I hope someone here steps up to create a better idea. Clearly BSA has created a solid footprint. If we could put the same energy into creating something positive but with a different policy, we’d be in great shape for our boys.

    I honor and respect everyone who has made their decision for their own family. It is the best modeling we can do. On the other hand, would ANYONE here deny it to another child, particularly an inner city child? And if you would, what would you do? What would you be willing to stand up and provide for those years in middle and high school? Could you show up for camping once a month? Could you create weekly programs that addressed social ills? And could you commit to being a role model throughout that young person’s life? If it were not your son…That’s what scout leaders do. And those who serve inner city kids deserve our thanks. In many cases, they provide the strongest male figure in the lives of these boys.

    I would love to see a more inclusive and genuine national organization spring up to model the local scouting organization. But It is naive to think that this will simply happen. Creating an organization takes a lot of time, money, energy and guts. If we can harness the energy here, then something good might happen. Otherwise it’s just another example of well-placed intention without thoughtful process. And there seems to be a lot of that these days. Talk is cheap, and actions speak.

    BSA is not perfect. BUT sitting around finding reasons to not allow boys to experience things they should have the opportunity to experience because of our views is probably not a lot better.

    Stand up. Step up. Light the way. Create a plan. Form an organization. Make it scalable (that’s the hard part). Get our boys out of the house and into reality. Stop bitching. Do something. Make things happen. They won’t unless we move away from our computers and into the world where actions speak louder than words from a computer.

    I would like to see this discussion move from our adult projections to adult actions. BSA isn’t perfect. Far from it. Its policies are terrible. But who will create another option for our boys. Can you? And if so, not what would you do, but HOW will you do it? What WILL YOU DO? Will you continue to comment on blogs, or will you take that next step and actually make something happen for our boys? Will you complain about BSA policies or will you work to try to change them? Will you just throw your hands in the air saying certainorganizations can never change, or will you dedicate yourself to an issue you find important?

    Till then, do you want to deny opportunities to boys that may not ordinarily get them, or will you create new options for them? Talk is cheap. How will you put your talk into action?

    I’ve made my stand. What is yours? What WILL you do?

  79. Well considering we are a Christian family and the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin I am very glad to have my son in Cub Scouts. If they ever changed their positions I would have to consider weather I would want him to continue. There is a huge difference between recognizing a lifestyle choice as sin and hate. I don’t hate anyone. I have known openly gay people and have treated them just the same as everyone else. We are to show God’s love to the world not judge, that’s not our job. But I also will not accept their sin as perfectly fine. I will teach my kids that it is a sin and wrong, but that we are to show love never be hateful. The people who name call and stand on corners with signs about God hating gays are horribly sinful themselves. God does not hate gays, he hates sins, our own as much as anyone elses. I appreciate that the scouts recognize that homosexuality is not an “alternative lifestyle” but is a sin. I am glad to have an organization like that for my son to attend.

  80. Laura, go look at the GSA policy if you want a contrast. Here it is: http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_central/promise_law/ There’s no reason scouting has to be religious.

  81. @Cindy, again, I’ve made my stand by putting my lot in with other groups that serve similar functions and will not shut boys out. I’m doing my bit to make that group stronger and better rather than waiting around for the BSA to accept my kids.

  82. I can’t stand the NEA, but I still support my teachers and my school. Granted, there are some differences, but in principle…

    And as far as the speech being sexist…. okay, I’m a child of the 70s. And even tho I can roar, bring home the bacon and cook it up in a pan, I still appreciate a man who can cook, clean and light a fire. And if women are FINALLY graduating at the same rate as men (and higher) and if they are getting PhDs at the same rate… that’s not sexist; that’s great!

    I hope my cub makes Eagle some day. I wish my daughter could. From what I’ve heard from those in college admissions, all other things equal, Eagle Scouts are at the top of the pile. It makes sense. These are boys that have done things to prove they can do something bigger than themselves, which is more than what most kids can brag about these day.

    Now if the BSA office could only do the same ….

  83. Oh boy.

    1. SKL and Larry, you know, I’m getting kinda tired (and I doubt I’m the only one) of EVERY post being a way for you to shoehorn in an insult about “teh libruls”. Some of them are only insulting if we agree with you, of course… but then again, you assume liberals are some monolithic entity that all agree on everything. (I don’t know about every liberal out there, but I assume that conservatives do have differing opinions about various things.)

    This isn’t a conservative forum. It’s not a liberal forum either. And I gotta say – I don’t see nearly the “oh, those stupid conservatives!” comments as I see “oh, those stupid liberals!” from a few vocal commenters.

    Sure, you might think we’re all stupid or uncaring or crazy or whatever else you want to think. You might even say it in your own personal place. I can’t say I never read comments from conservatives and wonder what the HECK they’re thinking to think what they’re saying is right. (It may have happened a few times on this thread alone.)

    But I don’t see the point in going on and on about it in a mixed group. This isn’t a “let’s all bash people whose politics may be different from ours” place. If we’re insulting anybody, shouldn’t it be the fearmongers? Why not unite on our common cause here? If you think it’s so important that nobody have views on the BSA that disagree with yours (or that the views that disagree with yours are so silly) that you have to talk about it, can’t you talk specifically to the person you mean instead of wildly talking about liberals as a group? (There are Christian liberals – many who see it as an outgrowth of their faith! – and gay or atheist conservatives. In fact, the DADT ruling was a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, wasn’t it?)

    2. As an extension of what I just said, even when I think that “The Conservative View” (even as I understand that there are MULTIPLE views held by conservatives on various issues, there is a dominant one in many of them… or maybe a louder one, anyway) is completely backwards and weird and nonsensically wrong, I at least assume that the people with this view are coming at it with good intentions… probably the same intentions I have, to take care of their families and be good people and whatnot. I don’t understand how their intentions can lead them to say and think the exact opposite of what I would say and think, but I at least don’t think you’re all such monsters. You could at least pretend to show us the same respect.

    3. I should’ve known that in this overly sensitive politically-correct nutzoid world that has come about, banning certain Bugs Bunny cartoons because they’re supposedly racist (I mean, Bugs Bunny, c’mon already!)–I should’ve expected this.

    What you call “PC” is what some of us just call “polite”.

    But you know, maybe you’re right. I don’t see what could POSSIBLY be seen as racist in a short where Africans are portrayed as cannibalistic primitives with comically huge lips.

    /sarcasm

    But you know, banning is a really strong word. It’s not like Uncle Sam came down and imposed really big fines on people who watch those clips – indeed, they’re readily available on YouTube! Instead, the people who own the rights to those videos have decided not to air them, probably because they understand that the American public, as a group, votes with its dollars. Isn’t that called capitalism? When companies do things we don’t like, we don’t support them anymore?

    4. In the skimming of this thread which I’ve done, I don’t think I’ve seen a single post here–and yes, that includes me too–that has even mentioned the free-ranging aspects that were promoted, and how great that was, even if nothing else was (and I’m not saying that nothing else was, but IF).

    Hasn’t Lenore posted articles in the past about how the BSA is putting increasingly NON-Free Range restrictions on Boy Scouts? Like increasing the age to learn to use a knife, or not allowing knives (even if you have a badge for it) on camping trips because “somebody could get hurt”, that sort of thing?

    As it happens (and many people do not know this), the scouting movement does have many groups that are not the Boy Scouts (and in America they’re totally unaffiliated with the Girl Scouts). So there really is something for everybody out there.

    5. SKL is right. No one is griping about the Catholic Groups and the Black Culture Groups etc & how they’re “promoting hate and “they’ve made it clear we’re not welcome.” You don’t see me complaining about the women’s-only groups at church, or the basketball leagues that–gee, what a thought–are only composed of people who can play basketball!

    The difference is those groups are for a very limited number of people. There’s a big difference between “Only for Catholics, sorry!” and “For everybody BUT Catholics.”

    Likewise, there’s a big difference between “For atheists” or “For gays” and “For all boys unless they happen to be atheist. Or gay.”

    You don’t complain about women’s groups at your church, but you’d probably be upset at a men’s group that allowed all men but you and your next door neighbor, or that allowed men… but then disqualified you after the fact when they found out you had a backyard barbecue, or lived in a trailer.

    6. As for your implication that the majority of sexual predators who seduce / molest teen boys are heterosexual – try again. They may pretend to be heterosexual. Keep in mind we are not talking so much about little boys as teens; hence the term “pedophilia” really doesn’t even apply to most of the actual factual cases in the Scouts.

    No, but the term “ephebophilia” still does.

    And of course, there’s a real debate about whether these people are attracted to their victims or if they’re just attracted to the power. But that’s an argument for another time.

    7. The Boy Scouts was created to be a pre-military organization. I’m surprised liberals aren’t knocking them for that, too.

    See, this is exactly the sort of gratuitous comment I mean!

    There are liberals in the army. There are liberals who support the military. As a liberal, I generally have no problem with the military. I have a problem with the current war – but then, I know conservatives who do too. And I have a problem with the proportional amount of spending the military gets (there’s big government for you!) – but as a concept, I understand that it’s good to have some people around to defend the nation against other nations, and while a group of rebels might work once, it’s unlikely to work twice. A professional military makes *sense* in the modern world. That’s why everybody has one. This has no conflict with my other views (that is, I’m a pacifist except for self-defense).

    Scouting, military, free-range – there’s no reason to try to make a connection so you can randomly insult (sorta… I guess it’s only insulting if you think it is, but as I suspect you *do* think it’s insulting….) people who don’t vote like you. We all still want our country to be safe and secure, even if we might disagree about the best way to accomplish that.

    8. If my numbering is wrong, I apologize. I did my best, but this got a bit tl;dr by the end.

  84. And I’m back already!

    1. Instead, it’s turned into a “bash the Boy Scouts like they’re the KKK” thread instead. Sad, and totally goofed up.

    Nobody has said that. Let’s not exaggerate – if nothing else because it weakens your point. If you have a good argument, you don’t need to claim other people said or implied what they didn’t, an especially bad idea when we can just check.

    I strongly doubt the KKK could get away with so little as “their official policy is discrimination”.

    2.

    One thing that surprises me in all these comments is why does every group have to cater to every kind of individual to be a quality group?

    It seems in today’s PC world we are trying to make every group as generic as possible and I think that’s unfortunate.

    In my 30+ yrs in Scouting I have never witnessed someone’s religious beliefs or sexual preference be an issue unless the person themselves made it an issue.

    Well, the problem is that the BSA wants to have their cake and eat it too.

    They want to exclude others – okay, they have a right to do that. I’m not arguing the point. For that matter, the KKK has a right to exist and to exclude others too.

    But they *also* want to benefit from government protections that are only available to groups that DON’T discriminate (the logic seeming to be that since the government isn’t allowed to discriminate, groups who get special treatment can’t either. This makes sense.)

    The Pentagon used to give special funding for the Boy Scouts Jamboree. In San Diego, the Boy Scouts got a special $1 lease on their headquarters from the government. In Boulder Valley the Boy Scouts get access to school facilities at rents lower than that charged for other organizations.

    The BSA isn’t getting poor treatment. It isn’t even getting equal treatment. The BSA is an officially discriminatory organization (I know individual troops may differ, in the same way that some Girl Scout troops go camping and some just make friendship bracelets and potholders) that gets special favors from the government – and it’s a BIG organization that probably doesn’t need these breaks to survive!

    These are your tax dollars at work, people! Screw that, these are MY tax dollars, and I kinda don’t want MY tax dollars helping the BSA.

    3. Well considering we are a Christian family and the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin I am very glad to have my son in Cub Scouts.

    Where does it say that, Nanci? Can you cite the specific chapter and verse for me, please? I’m really curious – I know I can compare different editions of the Bible online, but I’m not quite sure what I’d even search for!

    Of course, over his lifetime your son will have to join many organizations that specifically have non-discrimination policies. For example, it’s likely his college and future job will.

    4. Cindy, it’s a long thread, so maybe you missed it, but there are other organizations besides the BSA. One of equally long pedigree is Campfire USA.

    5. BSA fought for the right to keep their program intact. They have the right of free association as granted by the constitution. Whether anyone agrees or not is their right of freedom of speech, but I am thankful that BSA is not afraid to set what they are about firmly and truthfully in public, even though people who have differing opinions would like to see organizations who differ from their philosophy of life disappear.

    Of course they have the right of free association! First amendment, as I learned in school – speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition!

    However, the rest of us still have the right to free speech. And we get to say things like “They can gather, but I’m not supporting them because I disagree with them.”

    As for “Why would you want your kid to join”, maybe it’s because there’s so many benefits to scouting and you were convinced that individual troops don’t care about that whole god and gay business? Maybe it’s because you didn’t know about your other options? (Lots of options = the free market! Sharing information about a group’s policies and giving alternatives is being a good capitalist, isn’t it?)

  85. The passage about homosexuiality is Leviticus 18:22. Which is funny because goddies eat shrimp like it is going out of style, in direct violation of Leviticus 11:9-12 and Dueteronomy 14:9-10. SO it’s OK to break Bible law if you feel like it.

    Althoug come to think of it, goddies violate Lev.18:22 with alarming regularity… because boys are 50 times as likely to get molested by clergy as they are by strangers.

    Now we have a group that supports both the central goddie delusion and also bans gays. So all of the arguments about “love the kid, don’t support the organization,” “Scouts are not bigoted,” etc.are absolutely illogical. Especially since there is evidence that Baden Powell, the founder of scouting, was gay himself.

    There s a HUGE difference between PC and generic; there is also a HUGE difference between catering to a certain demographic (boys of a certain age who want to learn outdoor and other skills) and being biased agaisnt people for something nobody can control.

  86. Allison,

    Have a girl scout too. Not as impressed with the program. Different goals, different philosophies. Looking forward to when my daughter can join the boy scouts at age 14, because her opportunities to have independence are greater. The coaching the girls get for selling cookies is one example of how different the two groups are. Older girls often lose the “cuteness” factor that the younger girls have to learn new sales techniques. Girls have to be in agreement and fair about where to put booths and recently in our area can only share booths and thus have to split the cookie sales. Boy Scouts gave us tips for selling popcorn that were so amazing and were far more respectful than those shared in Girl Scouts. Initiative was stressed, and BSA was far less an organization lead from the top down, than one run at the community level.

    On the younger side of the program, Cub Scouts was far more family friendly. Girl Scouts just wanted moms gone so that moms wouldn’t do the activities for the girls. I guess I’ve seen that happen, but my GS was pretty independent before she joined. Again different organizations, different purposes.

  87. Yes, Nanci, it does say that, and thank you for posting it.

  88. Oh, and check out Romans, Anthony. It says some things that aren’t about shrimp.

  89. Would that be Romans 1:26-27, which proves that bigotry is alive and well in the New Testament as well as the old? Or the anti-Semitism of 2:17-24? The would-be child killer Abraham who is revered for being willing to murder his own for the god who supposedly loves evereyone of Romans 4:1-3 (indeed all of ROmans 4)? Or the extolling of the adulterous murderer David in 4:6-8? Or are you talking about the mention of all humanity being damned over a gaden prank in Romans 5? Or.. ?

  90. Although come to think of it, Romans 13:1-7 does sort of torpedo the right-wing goddie denial of separation of church and state… but that is a completely different conversation🙂.

  91. He’s right, those are beautiful life lessons, but they should perhaps be learned with the Girl Scouts, the Campfire organization, an unaffiliated summer camp, or another group which will support all children and teenagers. I don’t have a lot of respect for the rank of Eagle Scout because it’s given out by an organization which actively disrespects people like myself. I think with the growing awareness of gay teen suicides, any discussion of the benefits of a Boy Scout experience is a little queasy-making–especially because most people can’t tell their own positive experiences from a national organization. Just because something is good for you doesn’t mean it’s good; this should be obvious from history.

    Something else on the topic of bullying & suicide: Nanci, parents who agree with her, and the BSA are authority figures who, even if they profess to love the sinner and hate the “sin”, create an atmosphere that is permissive towards the mistreatment of gay children by their peers. As Dan Savage so eloquently said, there may not be any gay adults in your church or in your workplace, but there are definitely gay children in their schools (and in your Boy Scout troops), and however misguided you might be about what it means for something to be “right” or “wrong” you probably think it’s wrong for children to suffer.

    Also, for some people who are hating on the girl scouts–I think you are confusing your personal negative experience, or maybe a lazy troop leader, with a national organization.

  92. Oh and Nanci, homosexuality is no more a lifestyle choice than your (presumed) heterosexuality is, period.

  93. As long as the BSA continues to discriminate against non-religious boys and homosexuals, I will never allow my son to join them and I hope he’ll come to that decision on his own as soon as he’s old enough. I’m disappointed that you would endorse that bigoted group on your blog.

  94. “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”

    So all athiests and buddhists can’t be good citizens, you cant use the government dollar and then claim to be a private organisation. Exclude both the groups you do but pay taxes and pay the going rate for the facilities you use and be a private organisation.

  95. Uly, just pointing out that except for one post in this thread, it’s been a while since I used the term “liberal” on this site. Let’s not exaggerate. And let’s not pretend that the hate-the-BSA movement doesn’t lean liberal.

  96. I don’t understand why religious organizations are acceptable but BSA is not acceptable because they say you should believe in God. For those of you who won’t allow your kids in BSA for this reason and yet do allow them to attend a house of worship or religious school (or force them to say prayers), have you given any thought to the inconsistency?

  97. There’s a lot about the Boy Scouts I like. If my girls were boys I might feel disappointed not to be able to give them that opportunity at a young age (I’d prefer a mix-gender group as a default, but could see single sex might be preferable for an individual child).

    But I would no more enroll my children in an organization that had national policies stating homosexuals can’t be good citizens than I would in an organization that had national policies stating Black people can’t be good citizens. It wouldn’t matter if my kids were straight or white, or if the local group ignored the national policies. Those are values I find deplorable and couldn’t in good conscience put that aside in order to get my kids into an otherwise good extra curricula activity.

    On the religious side an organization that says everyone who follows this specific religion/tenet/belief/etc. is one thing, but a group that says everyone *except* those who support this specific religion/tenet/belief/etc. seems to be really intolerant. In the UK it’s still there but only as discrimination against atheists in leadership positions – atheist kids can join, atheist volunteers can help out, but atheists are not considered appropriate for decision making at a high level. I think I find that even more offensive than banning them outright though I can’t articulate why.

    I do think it’s a shame, because I love the boy scouts’ program (much more than the girl scouts’ personally) and would love to see it available for all kids (and not just boys either). I didn’t find the speech that inspiring, not my tone I guess. I think there are some good points about how good experiences like scouting activities are for kids though.

  98. @ SKL – The BSA says that you MUST believe in god to be a member (or at least be willing to lie about your beliefs). And no, I don’t take my child to a house a worship or enroll her in religious schools because we’re not of any religion. I won’t say allow because if she develops an interest in going to various churches, I will allow her to do so but it’s not part of our life nor will attending religious services ever be encouraged.

    And your comparison is kinds ridiculous. First, people are not kept out of church if they don’t believe in god. There is no such requirement to enter. Houses of worship are generally the most gorgeous buildings in an area. I’ve toured many and even sat through some services. Nobody made me take an oath to god before entering the building or attending the service. Nobody asked me to leave when they saw that I wasn’t praying.

    Second, the sole purpose for houses of worship is to worship god (allah, buddha, whomever). You get nothing out of it if you don’t believe. On the other hand, camping, hiking, fishing, starting fires, etc. does not in any way require a belief in god. Anyone can enjoy those activities.

    Third, atheists are not clamoring to get into church. I’ve yet to hear an atheist say “I sure would like to go to mass every sunday morning but for all that talk of god and praying.” And, again, they are not kept out of the church. If an atheist wants to attend church service, they can do so. They don’t have to swear an oath to god to sit in. On the other hand, as evident from this board, non-religious children and non-christians do want to join the scouts but are being kept out by the requirement that they believe in god.

    Fourth, you have many, many alternatives in houses of worship. You can find one for any religion that you want to join. And, people are not clamoring to get into other houses of worship. I’ve also never heard a jew say “I’d really like to go to catholic mass except for all that talk of jesus.” And, again for many religions, you don’t have to actually be a member of the religion to attend the service so a jew is more than welcome at a catholic mass and can do so without professing a belief that Jesus was the son of god. There is no true alternative to Boy Scouts. There is no similar secular group. Nor is there a muslim Boy Scouts or a Jewish Boy Scouts or a Buddhist Boy Scouts. If you are not willing to profess a belief in god, you miss out on the experience totally.

  99. Wow – I feel late to the party, here!

    I really wish the BSA had different policies regarding homosexuality, but as it is, I wouldn’t let my kids join, despite the fact they could both desperately use some rugged outdoor time. I just couldn’t look my gay relatives or friends in the eye if I supported an organization that specifically exludes them.

    And, frankly, the whole psueudo-military aspect kind of bugs me, too. Unforms, “troops,” and so forth. I want my kids to enjoy nature, not play army dress up.

    When I win a bazillion dollars, I’ll start the HIppie Scouts of America, and my fellow PC liberal friends here can join! All the camping, none of the homophobia, plus excellent organic smoothies.

  100. I’m responding to the original article, not to the comments, when I say…Amen, Amen, Amen. My boys both went through Cub Scouts, and dabbled in Boy Scouts. The thing that impressed me most was the quality of the adults. Every one that I met was a good, caring person that I was thrilled to have as an influence on my sons. Scouting is about building character and service as much, or more, than it is about building wilderness skills.

    Since this is the FRK forum, I should mention that the scouts are *not* immune to the insanity of the modern world. “No adult can be in a tent with a child who is not his own.” There are more and more crazy rules like that. But I am grateful that the boys still learn how to work safely with knives, guns, and fire, among other things. It really is a wonderful organization.

  101. As a single female parent of an Eagle Scout with Asperger’s Syndrome this volunteer program did more for my son than ANY government or school program ever did or even wanted to. Did we talk about BSA policies? We did, and we both disagree with the official BSA policies. His decision, as a straight young male, was to continue as an adult leader and try to bring change from the inside.

    As for Girl Scouts – my daughter hated every second. In her mind, they were way too focused on the “touch-feely” (her words) waaaay overconcerned about making sure the girls felt good about themselves, but no tent camping allowed unless two (2) instructors attended a weekend class on tent camping (in a campground, “wilderness” required a month of classes) Knives? um. No. Apparently the girls aren’t allowed to have them, they are dangerous. About as anti-free range as you get.

    And this: The Boy Scouts of America requires all scouts to believe in a God or comparable higher power, but currently admits Scouts who are non-theistic Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus from non-theistic sectarian groups. The religious awards of all three faiths are recognized by The Boy Scouts of America.

  102. I agree with the majority of the comments here. It would be absolutely hypocritical of me to allow any sons I had (I have 2 daughters) to belong to the BSA since I am a staunch supporter of gay rights and also atheist. My daughters are BOTH Girl Scouts and I do disagree with some of the negative comments about that organization. Just as many said on here about the BSA, the experience your daughters gets will vary from troop to troop depending on the leaders but at least there is no exclusionary policy other than you have to be female! Girl Scouts however is far from free range and I seriously disagree with their policies towards dads (that whole CYA, all dads can be molesters attitude).

    Aside from all this, I really wish Lenore would post her opinion on all this! I can’t remember the last time I saw so many comments on one post in such a short time.

  103. And for those of you who would like to have their girls join, there are Venturing Crews – co-ed groups foucused on outdoor activies such as repelling, kayaking, camping, etc.

    @Donna. You are misinformed:
    International Union of Muslim Scouts (IUMS)
    International Catholic Conference of Scouting (ICCS)
    International Catholic Conference of Guiding (ICCG)
    World Buddhist Scout Brotherhood (WBSB)
    International Forum of Jewish Scouts (IFJS)
    International Link of Orthodox Christian Scouts (DESMOS)
    Council of Protestants in Guiding and Scouting (CPGS)
    Won-Buddhism Scouts

  104. SKL

    “I have to agree that I see a lot of hate and intolerance here. I thought the reason they don’t allow gay scout leaders is because of CYA relating to actual cases of molestation. Right or wrong, that does not equal hate.

    I don’t mean to be a pain, but don’t you think that most pedophiles will pose as heterosexual males? That way there is less suspicion and they can get away with it.

    “Also, the fact that they acknowledge their belief in God does not equal hate. If you don’t want to “serve God and country,” fine and dandy, but don’t call those who promote that “hateful.” That in itself looks to me like hate against believers in God(s).”

    So you are saying that a group that begs for perks from the government (and gets them) shouldn’t be inclusive? I’m talking things like 1 dollar rents, which in some cases are finally being denied. Discrimination is fine, if you are a private group with no taxpayer help. An aside, even churches have to allow atheists or any other member of the public inside if they want to keep tax free.

    Joining the scouts is not a question for us. We are atheists, and therefore not welcome. This continues to dissapoint my son, who keeps getting their flyers at school and wants to join.

  105. ” For the first time in our history, we have as many women PhDs as men. ”

    And this is a problem because?

  106. Hi people. I´ve been a ScoutMaster for the last 20 years. It´s really beautyful how many boys you can help to grow.

    My life has been literaly saved by the Scouts when I was young, so I´m trying to pay the debt up to day.

    Kim and Jill: The whole world is changing for worst. But it is US who must do something to stop it. Scouting has gone

    worse and worse in its educative quality in the recent years, because of the “international guidelines” and the

    “politicaly correct”. What you can do, what I can do, as a ScoutMaster, is saying “NO! This is wrong! This is not the

    way Scouting must be done”. And do it the rigth way, with the correct fundaments and books. And, of course, Lenores´s

    Book is one of the best fundaments available today. I think it should be included in all Scout metodology, and it

    should be read by all new Scouters (wich most probably will have been raised in a non free range mode) Another

    excellent book that everyone should read it “The Dangerous Book for Boys” http://www.dangerousbookforboys.com

    Cindy, Graig and SKL: I agree 100% with you. You have to TRY it in order to say “things are like this” It is TOO EASY

    to talk sh… about other people that you don´t really know. In my experience (scouting in SouthAmerica) You must

    have a religious belief (anyone you want) We actually work with Buddhist, Catholic, Christian and Wiccan people).

    And, about Gays, Gay members and Gay ScoutMasters are allowed, the moral point with homosexualiy is reguled by the

    Religion of the Scout. So, if you´re a Gay Scout and a Catholic, you´re screwed! But some other Religions don´t

    consider it to be sinful. Anyway, it is an internal, private, moral matter, that you must settle with YOUR Religion.

    My Scouting Organization do not exclude you for being gay, but ask you to live acording with your religious

    principles. If there is any condradiction between them, it is a matter that you must check with your Religious

    counsellor, not your Scout Leader. Check our website (in spanish) http://www.guiasyscoutsdesalta.com.ar

    Ebohlman and Sheila Keenan: That is true. The only country with those problems in the Scouts is the US! Scouting in

    the rest of the world works all rigth! I don´t know… Maybe american people is so… “professional” in ALL that they

    do, that become a little…. fanatic?

    ShadowL: Your words can´t be more clear and contundent “It is media warmongering”. I also love your second answer.

    Larry Harrison: Your explanation is also brilliant. Thanks for putting such complex ideas in understandable words.

    Olivia: That is the point! BSA has been actually hijacked by a fundamentalist “Religion”

    Dragonwolf and Paula: You are SO wrong! BSA also have Buddhist Scouts! What? Did they become Christians without

    notice? http://bcascout.webs.com/

    Cindy, Joe, Jane, Jaynie, Michelle, Maggie, Donna and Timmy Mac: You can try SpiralScouts http://www.spiralscouts.org

    Please forvige me if my english is not 100% accurate.

  107. Wow…looks like a lot of people have some fairly big chips on their shoulder…too bad because you are missing the boat on everything that is great about Scouting.

    Leadership. Service. Community. Skills. Honesty. Safety. Teamwork. Fun. Integrity. Character.

    Most of the posts here have nothing to do with the Scouts themselves (or the nice transcript from a Court of Honor Ceremony I might add), and more to do with you the parent. If you teach your kids tollerance, inclusion, they will have it. Period.

    BSA is a private organization, and unfortunatley feels they have to cover their butt on this issue. In addition, most are chartered (sponsored) by a community organization (church, Rotary, Civic organization, school) who sets or enforces any BSA guidelines. Their policy may eventually change some day (there have been several initiatives, and are slowly gaining ground), but keeping your kids out is just plain silly.

    To those who “won’t let their kids join” are missing out. They are gaining life skills as well as memories they will have for a lifetime. Furthermore, if you buy some popcorn, a wreath, or some wrapping paper from a Scout, you are not supporting hatred, you are helping them buy a Pinewood Derby car, funding lunch for the kids going door-to-door collecting food for a food drive, or adding money for a craft project they can do while visiting a senior center for the day. Give me a break.

    Having gone through Scouts myself, and having 2 sons in Cub Scouts now, I still find it a tremendous experience for the kids.

    And to comment on a posts here…to the atheist who says they won’t let their kids join Scouts due to the Scout oath and promise…have you pulled your kids our of school? Does the Pledge of Allegiance offend you too?

    Your back must hurt from all the baggage you are carrying around.

  108. Actually–part of developing a more Free Range style of parenting for me has been NOT requiring complete perfection and ideological purity in each and every activity or organization in which my kid is involved. I’ll leave it to the helicopter parents to scrutinize each and every policy, leader, program or public statement of a group and yank their kids at the first sign of something potentially objectionable.

    I would even –quelle horror!–allow my kids to try out a group with whom I had some issues–using that as an opportunity to talk about those issues and about how life is complex, messy and most things are a mixture of good and bad.

    I have NOT encouraged my son to try Boy Scouts because of their stance on gay leaders/members–but if he genuinely wanted to try it, I’d let him–employing the above mentioned approach.

  109. @CC

    Many people here acknowledged the positive aspects of BSA, but are not joining on principle alone. That is it, we’re taking a stand against a major policy they have that we don’t agree with. In my opinion, THAT is truly teaching our children the values we possess and want to pass on to them. That we won’t lie down and allow them to belong to an organization that believes you aren’t moral if you are gay or don’t believe in any god.

    And the difference between that and school is that my kids are still allowed to go to school even though they are atheist. They also are not required to say “God” in the pledge. They can tell anyone they want that they are atheist and they won’t be kicked out of school. But if they did that in the BSA, per their WRITTEN policy, they would be ejected. Nor would myself or my husband be welcome as leaders.

    The only way that these archaic policies GET changed is by people taking a stand. When you support an organization that calls certain groups of people immoral, you are in essence saying you agree with their policies. Why would you want to teach that to your sons unless you agree as well?

  110. The article was great some of the comments afterward sound like they are whining. Comparing Boy Scouts to Girl Scouts in my opinion and I have been a Girl Scout leader. Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts is a better program. Girl Scouts concentrate to much on the nambie pambie ways of being a woman they need to be able to fish, climb, shoot, canoeing etc…. Teach them about being active and being proud that they can do those things and enjoy them. The Girl Scout program has also been lost along the way and is not family friendly. Everything you go to is no tags involved how is that teaching them anything. We have done MANY MANY things as a family within in Cub/Boy Scouting and have enjoyed them all. No one has been left out and family involvement is always encouraged. I never got that impression from Girl Scouting. Girl Scouting has lost its way also in the process. While I agree self esteem, sewing, matching outfits and so on is important to a girl there are alot of others things that are more important.

    If my daughter could have been a cub scout she would have been. We have met some very nice people along the way and she has made some very good friends. We love our Pack/Troop and the people in it.

    Keep up the great job Troop/Pack. I know its not easy and we appreciate all that you do as Dads and Leaders.

  111. @Patti

    I have NO idea where you are getting this impression of GS. My daughters have both been indoor skydiving, horseback riding, archery, hiking, camping, surf camp, etc. through the GS organization. These are all things they wouldn’t have done were it not for the GS. The only thing they sewed was their own vest. And they are learning SO much about being contributing members of society and leaders. They do so much community service. GS are extremely green and my daughters are learning how to respect the planet, as well as THEMSELVES and EACH OTHER. If I only wanted them to camp and fish, I would take them myself.

  112. My husband is an Eagle scout, just as we don’t have co-ed scouting there are reasons why a young gay teen shouldn’t on camping trips with other boys. Sex happens, and well my husband as a Scout had ‘break it up’ with two younger male scouts. It happens.

    On a serious note my husband told me a story, he rather not ever bring up, but I will because there are valid reasons on why BSA has this policy.

    There was an incident of an older scout being sexual with a younger scout on a trip. My husband was on that trip, and the same age and friends with the older scout. The younger teen scout reported it, being that the scout was over 16 charges were pressed against the scout.

    The older scout committed suicide, my husband attended his funeral.

    I hate it bring up what I just stated, out of respect for the family, but there is good and valid reason for the BSA’s policy and I very glad they have it and I will defend against any accusation of homophobia in which the BSA’s policy actually protects all parties from potential harm.

    That being said, it is possible that one of my own sons could be gay. I would hope early on my child would come to myself and my husband, and for the sake of his wellbeing leave scouting and focus on other endeavors.

    Renee Aste

  113. @SKL

    “…(or force them to say prayers)…”

    That’s not “inconsistency,” that’s abuse.

  114. having issues getting past the bit about the poor modern educated woman being unable to find a good man to marry, because let’s not forget that regardless of level of education, a woman’s primary goal in life is to land herself a husband.

    and the bit about the guy marveling at the quality of the girlfriends. What the hell does “quality” mean? Their looks? Their bust size? Did he check their teeth???

    anything that empowers children — boys and girls alike — is a good thing in these times but maybe we could do without the patronizing objectification of women, eh?

  115. @Renee, you’re so right… because sex NEVER happens between Boy and Girl scouts at Jamborees or camps where the girsl are near the boys, or in coed Explorer Scouts. I was a Scout myself and I NEVER did anything with a Girl Scout.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  116. If my son joined the BSA, he’d be joining a group that officially and explicitly teaches that his parents are not – can not be – good people. That’s simply unacceptable to me.

    Too bad too, because I think the Scouts do a lot of good things that I’d value for him.

  117. “What can be worse during a romantic moment in front of a fireplace than a man that doesn’t know how to start a fire?”

    I can think a lot of things that could be worse. Like, he’s a homophobic hateful jerk.

  118. @Renee – its not just that scouts won’t let gay boys on the camping trip. Its that they’re excluded from the organization in entirety.

    Watch Penn&Teller’s Bullsh*t episode for the other side of the coin [NOT family friendly. This program uses very vulgar language – but behind the language they talk to an Eagle Scout who was discovered to be gay and forced out of the program]:
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U87S3UKPWIw
    Part 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7BgFOYcUDc

  119. I have a love/hate relationship with the scouts. They do so much good for boys. Yet their blatant discrimination teaches them terrible lessons about how moral character arises. And they drive away too many families with boys who could really benefit from scouts, which is tragic.

    It saddens me that we can’t seem to separate moral character from ancient traditions. Traditions which teach, in addition to good character, irrational, disproven ideas about those different from “us.”

    We know today that despite what has been preached from the pulpit for centuries, homosexuality is both natural and not a choice. That in fact an openly gay man is much less of a threat to children than those who are in denial.

    In order to be a scout leader today one must sign a form agreeing with the statement that no man can lead a moral life without believing in God. If you don’t believe in that narrow and absurd notion, much less believe in God, you must either perjure yourself and forever remain silent, or you simply can’t be a leader.

    My own experience has taught me that this idea that you cannot be moral without God is simply not true. In fact, many of the most moral–in a Christian sense–people I have known have been atheists or agnostics. So the question I have to ask myself is, what am I teaching my boys about morality and character if I sign that document knowing it is a lie?

  120. Lenore–how do you reconcile your oft-taken position that we should not automatically consider everyone to be a pedophile with the notion put forth by BSA that all homosexual men must automatically be treated as pedophiles?

  121. @Greg – Please include the GirlScouts. They are the worst offenders. Last time a friend of mine tried to camp with the girlscouts, he was in a seperate campground 2 miles away.

  122. I’m so disappointed. I really love this blog and eagerly share the stories with my co-workers and fellow parents. You have a made a mockery of this blog. I am fighting so hard with my school system to stop promoting the boy scouts and I referred them to your blog as an example of the kind of free spirited parenting we need to be promoting. Would you be o.k. if the boy scouts didn’t allow Jewish scout masters, African American scout masters. I could just cry.

  123. I can’t believe how different Scouts is in the U.S. compared to Canada. Also, Girl Scouts sounds very different than Girl Guides.
    I was a Guide and maybe it was just our particular group but free range opportunities abounded. At camp, each tent of girls was responsible for all its own cooking. Everything was made over a campfire (with a iron cook grill over top). The goal was always to start the fire with just one match. We learned how to make roast in a reflector oven (basically a cardboard box covered in wet newspaper and tinfoil). There were lots of games that involved us roaming around in the woods for hours. So much fun.

  124. @Dragonwolf: Scouting is not a Christian organization to which those of other beliefs need not apply. The Boy Scouts of America recognizes, and allows to be worn on the uniform, awards from Islam, Buddhism, the Jewish faith, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, LDS, and Hindu, among others, as well as Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.
    To those who see the Scouting as a Mormon organization, founded by a Mormon. Wrong! The founder of the Worldwide Movement was an Anglican and son of an Anglican clergyman.
    Top leaders in the BSA have been Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish and adherents of other faith traditions. Mormons, while rather high profile and sometimes voluble because they adopted Scouting as their program for boys several years after the BSA was founded, constitute possibly 10% of the membership.

  125. I do hope that your friend later learns that the college issue is not so much that fewer men go to college, but a lower proportion of those who go to college are men. In 1970, 5,044,000 men and 3,537,000 women were in college; in 2007, men in college totalled 7,816,000 and women 10,432,000.

    The other day we were at the zoo and saw a boy scouts activity going on. I thought wistfully how much fun it would be for my son to be a scout when he’s old enough…. but then I thought about not taking on leadership for an organization that would kick members of my family out for who they are. Because, frankly, every time we’ve interacted with Scout recruiting, the press is for parents to become scout leaders. (In the case of my stepdaughter, ‘all the local troops are full. you’ll have to start a new troop.’ We reeled away glassy-eyed. And they weren’t even asking us if we were straight!)

    Add that to the unfortunate fact that both my brothers experienced bullying and physical abuse from the kids in the Boy Scout troop they were in during the 1980s, plus inappropriate touching from a leader (which may just have been bullying, I don’t know), so my son’s uncles have a distaste for it. I understand that kind of thing is stopped now, though.

    I love the principles of Boy Scouts as laid out in its founding documents, and I love the idea. But it won’t work for my son; he’ll have to wait until he’s a little older and join 4-H, which I actually liked more than Girl Scouts.

    P.S. 4-H is definitely a free-range type organization and you don’t have to live on a farm to join.

  126. Donna, I had a Japanese atheist colleague who enjoyed church because of the hymns (great music in her opinion). So you are wrong about the idea that there’s nothing to be gained from going to church than religion. That said, I’m sure that people aren’t excluded from entering a building connected with BSA on the basis of their religion or sexual orientation. Becoming a BSA member, however, is a different matter. Back to my “ridiculous” analogy, you don’t become a church member without stating that you believe certain tenets of the religion. Depending on the church, this may mean you can’t get married there, get certain education benefits for your kids, participate in communion, etc. And also, churches get major benefits in the form of tax exemption. So do temples, mosques, etc. So all this doesn’t bother most people, but somehow they think they have a say about what BSA should do.

    I still say many people are wrongly treating the BSA as if it were a government institution. Just because it’s getting some benefits doesn’t make it a government body. A kid can be educated in the public schools – does that make him subject to all the same rules as a government body? How is BSA more problematic than the all-Muslim public high school in New York? Or the all-gay one, for that matter?

  127. I’d love to sign my son up for the scouts. I hope by the age he’s old enough that I can do so they’ll have changed their policy concerning gays so that I can. If he reaches an age where he, himself, is willing to tell me that he wants to join an organization that would ban the participation of some of his family on the basis of their sexual orientation, I’ll accept his decision, but I can’t imagine signing him up for something so inconsistent with our beliefs until and unless he’s old enough to evaluate it and make his own decision.

  128. Actually, SKL, I’m a member of my partner’s *synagogue*, and I’m not Jewish. My son, a toddler, is not Jewish either but may seek to become Jewish when he gets older; the synagogue is willing to treat him as Jewish until then.

    Harvey Milk High School doesn’t require students to be gay. I’ve never heard of an All-Muslim public high school… name please?

  129. Oh, and by the way… I just looked up “Girls Club of America” as mentioned by SKL and unless there’s one separate from “Boys & Girls Club of America” there’s no requirement for ‘being on welfare’ (whatever it is you mean by that). The well-off town next door to us has a Boys and Girls Club of America site, and looking at their membership forms, there’s certainly no requirement for being on any kind of assistance program! Nor does their parent organization’s website (http://www.bgca.org/).

    So, SKL, you’ve done us a great favor! We’ll be looking into this program, which has an ‘open door’ policy and doesn’t track when kids come in and out.

  130. I haven’t read through all the posts, so I am not sure if this was stated anywhere, but as a woman I wanted to post. I was in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts growing up, well Sea Scouts which is part of the BSA. Boy Scouts includes girls in their explorer programs, but there is not something similar in Girl Scouts for boys. There are some programs similar to the explorer programs (ie specific activities such as sailing) in Girl Scouts but they are expensive and you have to apply and be selected to join. I earned my Gold Award in Girl Scouts and I loved my experiences in both groups.

  131. I have to say that I am disappointed in the BSA bashers that call themselves Free Range. Free range means that we, as parents, get to guage what is right for our children. If you don’t want to join, that is your right, but what if your child DOES want to join? Will you sway them? Will you frighten them? “Oh Danny, but they HATE people like Uncle Joe”? Or will you, like me, sit down, discuss the policies (age appropirately) and let your sons (and daughters) make up their own mind? Or will you squash it because YOU don’t like it? My son had (has) the facts and made the choice that best suited him and his needs and yes, we did check out 4H and Boys and Girls clubs, they just didn’t give him what he wanted and needed.

  132. Linda, it depends on their age. When they’re really young I wouldn’t enroll them but once they’re of an age where they seem to be able to tackle those kinds of moral questions I won’t actually prevent them. I’d certainly sit down and discuss why I object, and I’d explain that I feel unable to pay for anything to do with it and, probably, to attend events. But it would be their choice.

  133. The good things I learned from scouting such as resourcefulness, integrity and honesty far outweighed the negative aspects and are more in line with being FR. Religion wasn’t pushed back in the 1970s even though we were sponsored by a church.
    A pocket knife, which I still carry 40 years after scouting, is very handy for all of the tools on it.
    Its ironic that some are comparing the scouts to a hate group. We learned to be accepting of others even though about 10 years later our former Scoutmaster was a Grand Wizard in the KKK.

  134. I know all I ever need to know about someone when I hear them cry “hate speech”. That person is not my friend or welcome in my house.

    You made your choice to believe in God, or not. You made your choice to teach your kids that homosexuality is fine, or abominable. Live with it. When you cry hate speech, you are asking the government bully to silence that which makes you uncomfortable. And that, my non-friends, I find intolerable.

  135. Lucy,

    Nobody’s crying hate speech. Some of us are just saying we wish there was an organization that taught the camping and the boating without some of the other stuff attached to it. That’s all.

    Abominable? Snowmen are abominable. Gay people aren’t. But I’m glad to see your choices have made you so obviously happy and peaceful.

  136. Actually, the bit I found most sexist about the speech was this:

    “I feel even worse about the women. The challenge for women who graduate from college is to date a man that is not still living at home with his parents at age 25.”

    The only challenge, and therefore the only goal, for a woman who graduates from college is to find a suitable man? Come on!

  137. Tamara’s point is important. Suppose BSA didn’t allow Jews or African-Americans. Would people defend this? Would they say “Well, sure, the charter says you can’t be Jewish and be a good person, but I’ve never met a scoutmaster who believes that.”? Would they say “I know they don’t allow African-American scoutmasters, but they do so many good things for white boys that I’m willing to overlook that.” Would they say, “I don’t know why Jews and African-Americans would want to join an organization that doesn’t want them. Why don’t they find an alternative if they don’t like it?”? Would they say, “I’m sure Jewish boys could join if they just didn’t make a big deal about being Jewish; it would probably never come up.”?

    Some people may indeed say these things. But it’s important to see that for gay people and atheists (and my family includes both), BSA policies are no different from the above examples. I will defend people’s right to make their own choices. But I will also not in any way support an organization with such policies, however much I support the free-range parts of their teaching.

  138. “The military discriminates against Gays and does not recognize every religious belief either. No one is saying they will not allow their children to defend this country because of it.”

    I am. I would never want my son or daughter to be part of either group. They can of course make their own decisions when they are adults, but there will be no Boy Scouts and there will be no military in my home. Don’t even start with the “fighting for my freedom” and “died for my freedom” crap. That ended several wars ago, so save it.

  139. I respectfully suggest that we stop feeding the goddies. One would think that a bunch of people who KNOW the answers to life’s biggest mysteries in the same way most of us KNOW 2+2=4 would be the happiest, most open, tolerant, all-embracing, secure, peaceful people imaginable.

    But they are not. They are quite the contrary. It is perfectly OK for them to kill for their beliefs but “insulting’ for others to criticize them.

    They are therefore not worthy of the slightest amount of respect, tolerance, consideration, etc. Any reply to them that is anything less than absolute scorn is far more than they deserve and only validates their delusions. The logic is simple: If you keep feeding the pigeons, the pigeons will keep coming back.

    I am therefore bowing out of this discussion. The goddies have already gotten far more than their due.

  140. Lucy was so right when she said, “Some of us are just saying we wish there was an organization that taught the camping and the boating without some of the other stuff attached to it.”

    I’d go further and include the many good values taught by the scouts too.

    Jennifer, it’s very difficult to argue with your very articulate point.
    The BSA does discriminate and even if its perfectly legal that doesn’t make it the right thing for our kids and families to be supporting.

  141. Wow. That was a blatantly sexist speech, wasn’t it? The biggest challenge facing 25-year-old women is finding a manly man to date? Really? My biggest challenge at 25 was finding a job that had health insurance benefits. Dating — a manly man or otherwise — was the furthest thing from my mind. And why is it a bad thing for men that women have caught up in numbers at institutions of higher education?

    As for the BSA’s medieval policies: The problem isn’t that they want to discriminate. That’s fine and dandy. They have that right. The problem is that they want to discriminate AND receive government largesse in the form of tax exemptions, low-rent or rent-free meeting places and recruiting opportunities in public schools. They want the benefit of being both a private organization and a public one, and they shouldn’t have it both ways. (Then again, I also think religious organizations should be taxed as well. But that’s just me.)

    I’ve read comments here about how this discrimination doesn’t happen at the individual troop level. Sorry, yes it does. I have a friend who was removed as a den Mother and her 6-year-old son kicked out of BSA less than 48 hours after she referred to her “partner” in conversation with another den Mom. The comment got back to the council, and that was that. She was devastated. The kid was devastated. A couple of the other parents were devastated, and pulled their boys out of the troop.

    I’ve read comments that, oh, BSA isn’t a Christian organization at all! ‘Cause they accept other faiths! Well, how about non-faith? My husband (decidedly NOT a manly man, by the way, and NEVER a Scout) and I are atheists. If we had a son, would he be welcome to join? I think not. We’d probably allow him to join if he was so inclined, but he’d have to lie while taking the oath, wouldn’t he? Does that show good moral character? Not so much.

    As it is, we have a daughter in GSA. She takes the oath, but substitutes another word for god. I’ve heard her say “good,” “nature,” “truth,” and “Earth.” I’ve also heard her say “Zeus” and “Apollo,” just to make a point with a troop leader who told her she couldn’t make the substitution and HAD to say god. (Yeah, she’s an interesting kid.) Far from the barrettes-and-potholders scenario others have described, my kid has learned archery, orienteering, canoeing and skiing. She could have learned icefishing, but as an animal-loving vegetarian, she opted out. Oh, and yes, she CAN build a fire. So when that romantic moment comes up, she will be able to build that roaring fire for her object of interest — whether that person is male, female or trans.

    tl;dnr? Probably. Just couldn’t pass up the chance to join the fray.

  142. “I feel even worse about the women. The challenge for women who graduate from college is to date a man that is not still living at home with his parents at age 25.”

    I took that as we have babfied our young men to the point that they are unable to live by themselves.

    Isn’t that what Free Range is fighting?

    You look for insults, you will find them.

  143. Condemn the scouting organization for bad policy. Please do not brand the boys or men that believe in it. That is prejudice. With any organization there will be good apples and bad apples.

    Individual scouts and troops are no worse or different than than the Catholic church. Or the Mormans. Or the atheists. Or Lutherans. Or whatever. Look at the individual and do not condemn them by association. That’s the same offense you rail against.

  144. Kerry, your argument is both impassioned and flawed. An organization without people ceases to exist. There is no excuse for being ignorant of the BSA’s policies and history any more than there is for being ignorant of a speed limit when pulled over. It is incumbent on people to know traffic laws; there are no excuses. It is just as incumbent on people to know what the organization they are joining is all about.

    Joining this organization under any pretext is at least tacit acceptance, which means that not saying NO is the same as saying YES.

    Individual people who join are no worse or different than mass murders who claim that condoms cause AIDS? Individuals cannot be condemned by association? Really? Is that just for goddies or does that include KKK, etc?

    This should be grade-school logic.

  145. As a former cub scout and now the father of a scout (and an active leader), I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend scouts to anyone. However, at its core, BSA is a religious organization. For that reason, it isn’t a program for everyone. Just as you wouldn’t send your atheist child to the local Church youth group, scouting may not be for you either. The only requirement is a basic belief in God. There are no “official” religions. In fact, all major (and many minor) religions have their own specific religious awards that can be obtained in scouting:

    http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/Home/Awards/ReligiousAwards/chart.aspx

    Moreover, scouts are taught that they should respect other people’s religious beliefs even if they are different from their own. I’d also note that a few people have commented on the recent story of the Mormon family that was excluded. I would note that the decision was that of the host organization (a “Christian” Church) and not BSA Policy or Leadership. In fact, as the article notes, the family found another local Pack that welcomed them into the fold.

    As for the homosexuality issue, unfortunately, within any religious organization the “morality” of homosexuality is still frequently debated (consider the split between the ELCA and other Lutheran synods as an example). However, just as the ELCA has split from other religions, the only solution will come from within. As the BSA leadership evolves, with the right people in place the official policy may change. But just as I didn’t leave my ELCA church before the policy change, I won’t be leaving scouting either. The value provided otherwise far outweighs the negatives. Plus, as others have said, many Packs are more accepting that others – maybe we’re just lucky. And if my involvement can help lead to future acceptance of others, all the better.

  146. Or, the girls could learn to build their own fire and the boys could learn outdoor skills w/o the homophobia.

    Someone explain to me why it’s wrong for women to get college degrees?

  147. As for the homosexuality issue, unfortunately, within any religious organization the “morality” of homosexuality is still frequently debated

    This is not true for “any” religious organization. I’m involved in a religion that welcomes people of all sexualities.

  148. You know, I share the concern many of the posters have about BSA and their policies and at first, my husband and I planned to prohibit our son from joining Cub Scouts because of it. But as someone else noted, different Packs/Troops and different leaders do things very differently, and after watching from the sidelines for a year, my son really wanted to join, and our Cubmaster and the Den Leader are very open and tolerant people who have loved (in a good way) and mentored him. He’s developed a lot of independence through it (although I did have to teach him to use a pocket knife because they’re not allowed on school grounds!) and our leaders reinforce many of the values that we focus on at home: respect, compassion, service, hard work.

    It comes down to this: Nothing is perfect. I’m a Girl Scout leader, and I have to agree that GSA, while tolerant, has by and large turned mushy on outdoors issues and generally WAY too touchy-feely (altho my troop has not!) My husband & I are not members of BSA, do not donate money to them, and never will. Our son understands our issues with BSA and chooses to ignore them for now. He gets what he wants from it, and we choose to respect his choice.

  149. Wow. That post lit a fire. So why not throw on my two twigs.

    We have a constitutional right to freedom of association in this country, and clubs are, by nature, exclusionary. I’m sure homosexuals and atheists can learn to start a fire and tie a knot without recourse to the Boy Scouts, and there are other sources for gay uniforms. I’m not sure why excluding homosexual men from leadership positions over teenage boys is any more immoral than excluding heterosexual men from leadership positions over teenage girls. The only problem I have with the Boy Scouts is that they apparently receive public funding in some fashion in some areas of the country, and where that is so, that should not be the case. I spent one year in the Brownies, and I never wanted to move on to the Girl Scouts. The only thing I recall doing was making clown cones at Baskin Robins. I never did learn how to survive in the wilderness, but, so far, those skills have not proved essential, and I think nowadays the Girl Scouts can earn self-esteem badges anyway. To each his own.

    As for the speech itself…I’m not much in agreement with a number of points.
    One, I don’t think it’s true that fewer males go to college now than in the past. It’s just that more opportunity has been extended to females to go to school, and females by nature tend to be better suited – on average – to the academic environment than men, and men – on average – are more interested in careers that do not require college degrees (law enforcement, construction, plumbing, military, carpentry, welding, etc.) than are women. So women now take the majority of degrees. But, as a percentage of total male population, I don’t think there are any fewer men getting college or graduate degrees today than there were forty years ago. If anything, there is probably a larger percentage of the total male population getting degrees today than forty years ago, as more people go to college now.

    Two, I’m getting a little tired of this idea that ADHD is attributable to not allowing boys to be boys in school. I’m sorry, but when I was in elementary school two or three decades ago, boys were expected to generally behave, raise their hands, not interrupt the teacher, not talk back, and not jump up in the middle of a lesson and run around their desks six times. These expectations are not an invention of the last decade. Yet the number of ADHD cases has soared. I don’t think this can be attributed to the expectation that boys behave during school. It may perhaps be attributed to new methods of discipline and education that are not as effective as past methods, but it is not attributable to the expectation that a boy not interrupt the math lesson to tackle the kid sitting next to him.

    Here’s where I do agree – Kindergarten today, academically speaking, is what 1st grade was like when I went to school. Everything has been pushed down at least one grade. And I’m not sure why that is – why the academic pressure is ON so early. It doesn’t seem to have improved average reading and writing test scores. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to have put undue pressure on my kids either.

    I also agree that guys who have manly skills will – all other things being relatively equal – have a better chance of scoring with the chicks than boys who don’t. But you could also teach your son to write romantic poetry and open doors.

  150. @Lisa. I think you’ve hit the heart of the arguement. There is no perfection in this world. What works for one child/parent will not work for all the children/parents. You are not supporting the BSA per se, you are supporting your son, and yes, there is a difference. Perhaps your son will be like mine and try to make change from the inside. It isn’t much, but as an Aspie he speaks his mind (kinda doesn’t have a choice). It just isn’t right that I am condemned for my parenting choices because others disagree with policy. I firmly believe that without the intervention of the BSA in my son’s life, he would not be as independant and confident as he is now.

    To those of you who won’t let your kids join even if they want to, well, that is your choice and your right as a parent, but I’m not going to tell you what an awful person you are. Please show me and other scouting parents the same courtesy.

  151. @ Linda

    When did anyone tell ANY of you what awful people you are, or what awful children you have or in any way insulted any people personally? I have read every single post on this thread, and everyone was attacking the POLICY of the ORGANIZATION, not the parents or the kids or even the troops and leaders and never did I read anyone tell anyone else that they didn’t have the right to parent in any way they saw fit. I never saw this debate (and it’s one of the most respectful I have seen recently) get personal or out of hand.

  152. “Then again, I also think religious organizations should be taxed as well. But that’s just me”

    Why should I be taxed TWICE on my earnings – BOTH when I earn it AND when I give it to my church? That’s just greedy.

  153. @Sky

    The CHURCH would be taxed on its income, not you. When you look at some of these “mega-churches” and the wealth their leaders display, you don’t think they should be taxed? Why not since they’re obviously not using it for the good of others…

  154. @Sky, for the same reason you get taxed on your earnings and again when you patronize a secular idea merchant, AKA bookstore, etc. The fact that one is secular and one is based on flights of fantasy makes no difference.

  155. @Sky and Jen, then the church would be taxed on its earnings as would the clergy, nuns, etc. JUST as it happens in the secular–sorry, real–world.

    Goddies deserve no special treatment.

  156. @Anthony

    I think you misunderstood my post, I agree with you completely. I was telling Sky that she isn’t getting taxed twice, she gets taxed once and the church gets taxed once.

  157. @Jen “Individual people who join are no worse or different than mass murders who claim that condoms cause AIDS? Individuals cannot be condemned by association? Really? Is that just for goddies or does that include KKK, etc?”

    You might want to go back and look at Anthony Hernandez’s posts.

  158. @Jen, I saw that🙂

    @Linda, your offense to my comments does not invalidate my logic. If we cannot be against people by association then the local KKK member is just as sweet and full of creamy goodness as the local social worker.

  159. @Linda

    Then please, next time, direct your comments to the offending individual rather than grouping us all together. I do not share his view, nor have I said anything offensive.

  160. @ Anthony, An Eagle Scout is hardly on par with the Grand Wizard from the KKK. Your remarks I found amusing. We must respect everyone’s beliefs – except for those goddies because what was it you said? Oh this!

    They are therefore not worthy of the slightest amount of respect, tolerance, consideration, etc. Any reply to them that is anything less than absolute scorn is far more than they deserve and only validates their delusions.

    Funny how that respect only goes one way…

  161. @Jen – what part of “to those of you….” did you NOT understand?

  162. @Linda

    There is no cause to be so rude, I have absolutely not been rude to you, nor anyone here. I apologize for missing that small part, I read very quickly and miss things sometimes.

  163. […] Why Scouting? Hi Readers! At the conference on the importance of play that I went to last week, I met Cindy Wilson, the […] […]

  164. @Linda, very touching except that no one has died for my beliefs, unlike the 2,000 year history of a belief system that I presume you buy into. Beliefs like those you defend flew us into buildings. Beliefs like I defend have flown us to the moon. Any questions?

  165. @ Jen – I am not being rude. I was respondig to your assertion that you have read every single post and no one had said anything condeming the individuals connected with the organizaion when if fact, they had. Then you scolded me for including you with same group, when if fact, I had not.

    Perhaps a quick minute or two to review before condmening me might be a good idea?

  166. My son is not a scout because of the sexism and homophobia. I cannot in good conscience allow him to be one.

    I highly resent they are allowed to recruit in public schools when they are not a secular organization. My dream is that some day Boy Scouts are about teaching and honing strong, capable, smart PEOPLE – regardless of religion or sexual orientation.

  167. Jen writes:

    They also are not required to say “God” in the pledge.

    More to the point, they’re not required to say the pledge AT ALL.

  168. Anthony, your asssertion that atheists do not indulge in mass murder is incorrect. Please review Soviet and Chinese history (Stalin and Mao, famous atheists) of the 20th century.

    And you are correct, that people do horrible terrible things in the name of God – to deny that would be ludicruous! However, I do not believe that being an atheist immunizes a person from cruelty.

    People are inhuman to people, some do it in the name of God, some do in the name of Progress, and some do it for fun. People still end up dead.

    But I refuse to believe that being an Eagle Scout, a boyscout, or a cubscout means your a bad person.

  169. But apparently it’s ok to say that atheists and gay people are, as the BSA asserts. Point taken.

  170. Linda, I assume you are religious and of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim ilk. If I am correct, then your ENTIRE set of beliefs owes itself to a guy who was about to kill his own kid in God’s names. Your holey book continuously extols murder, rape, genocide, etc. That is the foundation your entire belief set is based on. You (if my assertion of your religiousity is correct) are a knowing and willing part of this. In my book, that makes you just as guilty as any Inquisitor by association as an accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes against humanity and thus deserving of the punishment society doles out to said criminals.

    Ah, the tired old “atheists are bad too!” argument. yes what your kind did is bad but it’s somehow less bad or more palatable because others did it? Atheists can be evil, but we don’t do it because some book tells us to.

    Nazi Germany had the slogan Gott Mit Uns and the endorsement of the catholics. You cannot lay Nazism on atheism. Also, you make the fundamental mistake of conlfating religion and god. All tinpot dictatorships from Stalin to North Korea are examples of more or less secular religions. Yes, one can have religion without god. We have ways of dealing with them as well.

  171. @Anthony

    You are just proving their point here. If you expect religious people to respect you and your right to your beliefs, you have to respect theirs as well.

    I also am atheist and I have no issue with any other religion, I have friends of all faiths.

    Please know that we don’t all feel as Anthony does.

  172. @Jen, people like Linda killed people like me for over 1,000 years simply because we did not agree with them. I neither expect nor want their respect, nor do I respect them or anything they stand for.

    How nice that you feel the need to be nice to goddies. They need the validation. 2,000 years of running roughshod over this world has left them feeling a little fragile and in need of a collective hug.

    Please read Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens, CJ Wereleman, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, EO Wilson, and many many others. Also check out http://www.evilbible.com.

    The sooner people of reason collectively decided to stop tolerating religious nonsense and put an end to it, the better our world will be. Period.

  173. Actually, I’m agnostic. I was raised Catholic but do not practice.

    My children are different, and they do believe in God. I don’t encourage, I don’t discourage, we discuss.

    And I never said that atheists or gays are bad. I do even believe that you don’t have to have religion to be a good person. Yes, the BSA does discriminate against atheists and gays, but I don’t think disbanding the BSA is going to change anything, just dry up another outlet for kids to learn outdoor skills.

    I believe I said something like people can be bad, and I did not lay Nazism on Atheists. Nice try.

  174. @Anthony

    Except it wasn’t THESE people that did that. They should not have to apologize for the acts of their ancestors, just as I shouldn’t have to apologize for slavery just because I am white.

    Do you literally have NO friends of faith?

  175. OK so Linda isn’t religious. I stand corrected. Please substitute “all religious people” in my previous post.

  176. @Jen, no, these particular people did not do the killing; however, I hold the sweet little old lady who bakes cupcakes for the bake sale and who would never harm a fly to be just as guilty as Torquemada himself. How? The accomplice principle.

    There was a case in San Francisco where 2 guys attacked a bicyclist who was carrying a concealed firearm. Cyclist killed one attacker. Cops charged the surviving attacker with murder; the cyclist was merely a witness even though he was the trigger man. Why? Because the attackers deliberately engaged in criminal activity.

    How this relates to religion: The Bible and Koran are the most vile books ever written and the history of Judaism is no better. Ignorance of traffic or any other law is no excuse for breaking that law. Ignorance of religious history is similarly no excuse for any goddie. Thus, any goddie is a willing member of a group whose laws are embodied in a book that condones and extols unspeakable horrors and that has been doing its damndest to carry them out ever since.

    Had these people’s ancestors been religious and done these horrors while the people alive today eschewed that system then of course they would not be guilty. But that is hardly the case. The books are the same, the stories are the same, the assault on reason is the same, the cost to society of religion both direct and indirect is staggering, and the atrocities continue (again, look up cardinal Trujillo and also check out molestation stats).

    Given all of this, please give me one reason why I should tolerate, respect, or in any other way knowingly give aid and comfort to any religious person or entity?

  177. @Anthony “Given all of this, please give me one reason why I should tolerate, respect, or in any other way knowingly give aid and comfort to any religious person or entity?”

    Well, you’d seem a lot less like a crazy, obsessed manica, for one.

  178. Sorry but I don’t agree with that case you mentioned any more than your argument against religion.

    Again, I go back to the slavery analogy. Obviously, I know I didn’t choose to be born white, since I am sure that is your next argument. But I also don’t believe people choose their faith. If I had a choice, I would CHOOSE faith. Why? Because people of faith tend to be far more at peace than atheists. And you are proving my point on that as well.

  179. Anthony, if you had your way, would you wipe all believers out of scouting? Would you make being an atheist the litmust test for being a scout?

    I’m just curious.

    I’ll also ask, if you are a vegetarian, must all of your friends be vegetarians? Would you give respect to the carnivores of the planet?

    I must comment, that you strike me to be of the same ilk that say if you don’t hover over your children the way *I* do, you not a good parent. Not the attitude for a free range parent! (I don’t hover, in case I wasn’t clear)

    Thank you and good night.

  180. @Linda, if I had my way, religion, sexuality, etc. would have nothing to do with Scouting whatsoever. Wouldn’t even come up.

    Your comparison to vegetarians vs. religion is a laughably false analogy that deserves no further response.

    My kid takes himself to school every day, to the playground every day, home again, to local stores, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, etc. all by himself at 8.5 years old.

    @Jen, sheesh… We don’t have slaves any more and realize it was wrong to do so. Thus, as white people, we bear no responsibility for our ancestors’ sins in this regard. If, however, we all believed in a book and were members of a society that extolled slave ownership and that could not be bothered to update its documents to reflect the evolution of social mores, then hell yes we would be guilty. White people who eschewed this society would not be guilty. Not sure how much clearer I can be.

    And I am very much at peace. On a mission, yes, but a far more peaceful one than most goddie missions.

  181. Bitter does not ever equal peace.

  182. utter disrespect and intolerance bitterness, hence the different entries in the dictionary.

  183. Look, it’s simple: You don’t tolerate the KKK do you? And yet the KKK has done far less harm than any religion. So why are you so staunchly defending religion? The KKK goes off and had bonfires and wears funny outfits and rants and raves and occasionally throws a parade. Religion stones women to death, says that condoms cause AIDS, stifles medical advances, and has been doing so for millennia.

    What, precisely, is there to tolerate or respect about religion? Give me one solid thing that is tolerable and respectable about religion and I may well change my mind. Meanwhile, I have read the bible and koran cover to cover as well as the book of mormon and they are utterly horrid. So any attempt to get me to respect goddies is an uphill battle but is far from impossible.

    So go ahead… one thing. Meanwhile, I can take my own kid out into the woods.

  184. No acknowledgment of ANY good done in the name of religion? Charitable works, schools, hospitals, gee, I don’t know, how about just making the religious feel like there is a meaning to their life that other things haven’t given them?

    I can’t believe that I, as an atheist, have to defend the religious freedom of others to another atheist. What a hypocrite you are! You are doing to them exactly what you claim has been done to your “people”. We have religious freedom in this country for a reason. To protect all of us from people like you.

  185. Jen, are you telling me that charitable works, schools, hospitals, etc. have not been done without the religious strings attached? That religion has some sort of monopoly on good behavior? That humanism and meaning and spirituality cannot supply meaning every bit as that of religion?

    Nobody is asking you to defend religion; you took this crusade on yourself.

    In my world, religion would lose its nonprofit status across the board and pay the same fees, etc. as any secular organization. No government money would fund anything remotely religious. Any religious violation of the separation would be prosecuted using existing laws. Candidates for public office would be required to pass a high-school level science exam and basic critical thinking exam and all questions of faith would be outlawed and not considered as qualification for or against office. I would not kill anyone, torture anyone, imprison anyone, etc. for being a goddie–a courtesy that goddies have not extended to us. Yeah, I’m a real jerk all right.

    And by the way, please don’t make the fundamental mistake of conflating religion and god. My stance on religion says nothing about any metaphysical beliefs I may have.

  186. “I feel even worse about the women. The challenge for women who graduate from college is to date a man that is not still living at home with his parents at age 25.”

    Frankly, I just rolled my eyes at that comment because I was already appalled by that point. That was hyperbole, and did the speaker no favor in my eyes, but he was playing to his audience. The speech had already been filled with enough allusions to the idea that boy scouts are all people of excellent character (I would choose to differ given the policies of the group) always contrasted with the idea that those who are not boy scouts are doomed to be lesser beings.

    At age 25 my husband was married to me. And gee, we weren’t living at our parents’ houses, either. Instead we were earning our PhDs at the same time — that summer we were both studying for our quals. And…….*gasp*……he was never a Boy Scout! I don’t know how he survived.

    Linda, while I don’t believe that being a Boy Scout inherently makes one a bad person, I also do not think being a Boy Scout means that the kid is someone I’m going to automatically think is a good person either. I try, try, try to remain neutral about the boys, remembering that some of them are attempting to fight from within the system.

    I still think that Jen’s question about what people would do if different minorities were substituted for atheists and homosexuals in the official platforms is a perfectly good one.

  187. @Jen, I’m mostly with you here. I don’t want to defend religion itself — bad things have been done both in the name of religion and in the name of ridding people of the chains of religion. Good things have been done both with and entirely without religion as well. One thing that does bother me is when people decide religious = moral and a good person and atheist = immoral and bad. That’s what I see being done in the BSA and that’s the attitude I’m fighting. I also think it’s untrue that atheists are better than other folks or that we have some huge monopoly on the truth.

    I will say, though, that I have never wished that I was religious aside from the social protection it provides sometimes. I’m at peace with my lack of faith.🙂

  188. Uly, just pointing out that except for one post in this thread, it’s been a while since I used the term “liberal” on this site. Let’s not exaggerate. And let’s not pretend that the hate-the-BSA movement doesn’t lean liberal.

    If you say so, I’ll take your word for it. However, you’re not the only one doing so in this thread (you’re just one of the more prominent ones), and you absolutely *have* made comments recently that were knocking people who disagree with you politically. You may not have always used the specific word “liberal”, but it’s always been weirdly off-topic.

    (As a side note, I do think Anthony also should knock it off. Not all atheists dislike, disparage, or otherwise disrespect theists.)

    2. I don’t understand why religious organizations are acceptable but BSA is not acceptable because they say you should believe in God. For those of you who won’t allow your kids in BSA for this reason and yet do allow them to attend a house of worship or religious school (or force them to say prayers), have you given any thought to the inconsistency?

    Because churches and religious schools do not generally receive money from the government to go on with their prayers. They DO get special treatment in some ways, and I oppose that special treatment, but I have nothing against their existence.

    Also, religious groups do not promote themselves as being for everybody except in an obviously proselytizing way. They might say “Everybody can come to God!” or “If you don’t believe like we do, you’ll go to hell!” but they do NOT say “Come join our fun discussion group – oops, but not you, you have teh ghey!!!!!!”

    It’s not inconsistent at all.

    3. And your comparison is kinds ridiculous. First, people are not kept out of church if they don’t believe in god. There is no such requirement to enter.

    Well, that’s not true for all religions. I believe non-Mormons can’t enter their temples, for example.

    But yeah, as a general rule they WANT unaffiliated people – aka “potential converts” – to come visiting and see how wonderful they are.

    4. Scouting is about building character and service as much, or more, than it is about building wilderness skills.

    For some of us, building character means acknowledging that atheists and gays can be good people (and usually are in the same proportion as everybody else!)

    It means that when a young boy comes out and says “I don’t believe in God” or “I think I’m gay” we don’t punish him for having the honesty and integrity to stand up to a group and say he’s different.

    5. I don’t mean to be a pain, but don’t you think that most pedophiles will pose as heterosexual males? That way there is less suspicion and they can get away with it.

    Most pedophiles probably are heterosexual, and no doubt go after girls.

    6. Wow…looks like a lot of people have some fairly big chips on their shoulder…too bad because you are missing the boat on everything that is great about Scouting.

    Leadership. Service. Community. Skills. Honesty. Safety. Teamwork. Fun. Integrity. Character.

    Fortunately you can have all those things AND scouting WITHOUT having to join the BSA! (And even without scouting you can still get all those things – thankfully, as it’s only a little over a hundred years old, and I’d hate to think that we didn’t have any integrity, leadership, character, or fun before scouting was invented!)

    As others have mentioned, there are non-BSA scouting organizations in the US.

    keeping your kids out is just plain silly.

    I disagree. I think it would be amazingly hypocritical to have your children join a group that has policies antithetical to your views. There’s not much “honesty” and “integrity’ there. (In fact, boys have been kicked out of some troops for having the honesty to admit that they didn’t believe in God, or were gay.)

    Does the Pledge of Allegiance offend you too?

    Yes, actually, but not for the reasons you may be thinking🙂

    On a deep level, I feel it’s shameful and wrong to change somebody’s words in order to fulfill a cheap political message.

    (Actually, I haven’t said the darn thing since I was 12, and I absolutely have no intention of starting again now. Yes, I took some heat for this as a kid (Staten Island is like that), but I didn’t feel I had much of a choice. I see my words as important.)

    Your back must hurt from all the baggage you are carrying around.

    Nice try.

    7. My husband is an Eagle scout, just as we don’t have co-ed scouting there are reasons why a young gay teen shouldn’t on camping trips with other boys. Sex happens, and well my husband as a Scout had ‘break it up’ with two younger male scouts. It happens.

    Renee, actually, at higher levels aren’t there such things as female Boy Scouts? And aren’t the scouts co-ed in other countries? And in fact, I do believe that many of the other scouting organizations in the US – for example, Campfire USA – are co-ed. I don’t know how they handle camping trips, admittedly, but your very first statement is incorrect.

    Also, your conclusion is faulty. If that were truly a problem, they’d punish children for lacking self-control – not for being gay.

    I hate it bring up what I just stated, out of respect for the family, but there is good and valid reason for the BSA’s policy and I very glad they have it and I will defend against any accusation of homophobia in which the BSA’s policy actually protects all parties from potential harm.

    Except your very own story shows that it doesn’t. Had they known or acknowledged that some of their scouts were gay, they could’ve taken steps to help prevent this. Had they realized that one of their scouts lacked the character to keep from harming others, they could’ve ejected him for his bad behavior.

    8. Just because it’s getting some benefits doesn’t make it a government body.

    It’s not getting “some benefits”. It’s getting a LOT of benefits.

    However, no, getting benefits from the government doesn’t make you the government. But that really ought to have gone without saying, because nobody claimed otherwise. Getting benefits from the government DOES mean tha you have to follow the same rules as the government, though.

    How is BSA more problematic than the all-Muslim public high school in New York? Or the all-gay one, for that matter?

    Well, for one thing, those schools aren’t all-Muslim. OR all-gay. One teaches Arabic, the other has the goal of educating children who have been bullied or harassed for any reason. But anybody can go to them so long as they get in via the lottery. (I think they work on a lottery. Most high schools in NYC do. At any rate, however you get in, it’s not because of your religion or GLBTQ status.)

    This is actually a common misconception, but it’s not how the high school admissions process in NYC works at all.

    Harvey Milk High School doesn’t require students to be gay. I’ve never heard of an All-Muslim public high school… name please?

    I think she means Khalil Gibran, which is not Muslim. It’s a school that teaches Arabic. (And of course, not all Arabs are Muslim – and plenty of people have an interest in learning the language nowadays!) And there’s no religion taught at all except in the context of global studies where a quick overview of major world religions is typically given at the start of the year.

    I’m not sure if the school is still running, though.

    9. I have to say that I am disappointed in the BSA bashers that call themselves Free Range. Free range means that we, as parents, get to guage what is right for our children.

    No duh, Linda. And that’s what those of us who are “bashing the BSA” are doing – gauging what’s right for our families and our lives.

    10. When you cry hate speech, you are asking the government bully to silence that which makes you uncomfortable.

    Um… no. Has anybody on this thread at all said they wanted the government to shut down the BSA? LOL.

    However, if somebody says something hateful – guess what? That’s hate speech! I don’t need the government’s okay to say so… and I don’t need yours either.

    11. Why should I be taxed TWICE on my earnings – BOTH when I earn it AND when I give it to my church? That’s just greedy.

    For the same reason your boss is taxed ONCE when she earns her money and ONCE when you pay taxes on the salary you get from your job.

    Oh… wait… that’s not how it works at all!

    12. But I refuse to believe that being an Eagle Scout, a boyscout, or a cubscout means your a bad person.

    And nobody has said it does. (Especially not when it comes to the little kids that are the cub scouts. Children that age aren’t good OR bad, they’re just small.)

    However, a group of good people that follows a bad rule is not, as a group, a good group just because on the whole most of the people involved in it are very nice.

    13. Finally – Anthony, seriously, does not represent atheists as a whole.

    No, really. He’s like a bad stereotype, the atheist who hates God. And religious folks.

    Most atheists know that religious people aren’t *all* the guy on the street corner screaming about how if you don’t agree that Jesus loves you you’ll go to hell hell HELL – and just fyi, the vast majority of atheists have better things to do than to rant about how evil religion is.

  189. Particularly relevent to this debate: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/10/22/granderson.gay.scout.leader/index.html?hpt=T2

    He said it more eloquently than I did, “But if someone willingly joins a private club that discriminates against a particular segment of the population, then each time that person pays dues or attends a meeting, he or she is indirectly expressing agreement with the discriminatory policy.”

  190. @ Joe: The Campfire organization (I’m pretty sure) is co-ed, and non-religious (or at least non-segregating when it comes to beliefs), and if there’s a circle in your area, Spiral Scouts is definately worth looking into! That might be a place to start.

  191. @uly

    #5 – Seriously? As in, do you seriously believe what you wrote there?

    #10 – The US is one of the few (first world) countries where “hate speech” is not a crime in and of itself, but it’s context of usage is no different here than anywhere else. And, unless you are naive enough to believe what you wrote in #5, you would know “silencing” does not automatically mean shutting the BSA down. It means exactly what it says – prohibiting or punishing sentiments that somebody may find uncomfortable – as noted many times in this thread, the BSA does not make Canadians uncomfortable.

    I do completely agree with you that the BSA should not receive government funding, favors, exemptions etc., nor should any religious, sports or special interest group. The government should not be using our money for ANY of that, nor should our tribute be used to fund it’s own special interest arms (education, standing armies etc.).

  192. I’m Mormon (though lapsed), so I can tell you that, while the BSA is not a Mormon institution, the largest single sponsor in the US is the Mormon Church. The Church has programs for kids between the ages of 12 and 18, and the program for the boys IS the Scouting program. My ex-husband was a Mormon Scoutmaster for 20+ years. That’s the main reason for the homophobia and intolerance for atheists. The BSA is simply NOT going to piss off their single biggest sponsor!

  193. #5 – Seriously? As in, do you seriously believe what you wrote there?

    Yes, I seriously believe what I wrote there. Most of the population? Is straight. Most pedophiles? I’m guessing that maybe, just maybe, they’re also more likely to be straight than gay.

    I’m not even going to *reply* to the rest of your comment because, frankly, I think you’re stupid, hateful, and ignorant.

  194. Actually, Lucy, you’re so annoying with your stupid comment that I felt I should actually look at the statistics a little just to rub them in your stupid face.

    Unfortunately, I do not have a wealth of information at my physical fingertips – but hey, that’s what Google is for. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do.

    The first search I did was “what proportion of pedophiles are gay”. This was not helpful – mostly I got yahoo answers and WorldNetDaily. One is filled with illiterates, and one is filled with rabid fundamentalists and is likely to be biased. (I excluded results from specifically homosexual results for the same reason – even if they’re correct, you’re not likely to believe them, are you?)

    So I tried just “pedophiles gay”. More varied results, but still more of the same – mostly either gay sites or “traditional values” sites, and I want something that we can both agree on.

    So now I went with “child molestation statistics”. Less specific, but it might help narrow us down without getting into the back and forth wars.

    Aha! Let’s look at the very first page I clicked on.

    http://childsafetips.abouttips.com/child-molestation-statistics.php

    The statistics say that one out of every three to four girls has been sexually assaulted by the age of 18. One boy out of every six will be abused by the age of 18.

    If that number is accurate (we know that it is not, but how inaccurate it is we don’t know) and if males are more likely to molest than females (this is the assumption you’re making, yes?), and if there are equal numbers of boys and girls, then it seems likely that most pedophiles are straight because they target girls.

    In fact, the site goes on to say that pedophiles who target girls on average molest 50 girls before being caught, whereas those who target boys on average molest 150 boys. So it seems that those that target boys are more prolific, and there are probably 1/3 as many of them as the ones who go after girls.

    What sort of gay guy goes after little girls?

    Of course, I don’t know where they get their numbers, but it’s the best I could find on such short notice. (Of course, most molested children are harmed by their own parents, so… it’s likely that the people harming them are straight.

  195. @Uly

    I also do not have any statistical numbers, but I do have some pretty decent anecdotal evidence.

    I work in a residential treatment center for youth sex offenders. These are boys, aged 12-17, who committed no violent act such as rape, but acts of opportunity – molestation of younger children. In EVERY situation, the boys were straight. No, they weren’t confused, they were most obviously straight, but pedophiles molest whatever children they are given access to, their own children, children in their care, etc. The gender of that child DOES NOT MATTER. These boys all molested younger siblings, cousins and neighbor kids, both boys and girls.

    I have heard the statistics time and again, and every one I hear says that the majority of pedophiles are STRAIGHT men.

    So if the argument of the BSA is to protect the children from this, then they better outlaw ALL men as leaders.

    Of course, the GS are no better. They seem to think women and molesting like crazy too. If a female adult is to share sleeping quarters with the girls on a trip, another UNRELATED female adult must also be present. Just read that in their official program guide today.

  196. Thank you, Jen. You have the sort of anecdotal data that is useful.

    One of the sites I brought up with google said that the correct identification of pedophiles (in the narrow sense of “folks attracted to children, whether or not they’ve ever acted on that attraction”, not the wider sense of “people who are attracted to children or who have molested or raped children and teens”) is “pedophile” as there’s something wrong with them, you have to be normal to be gay or straight – a fair enough argument, but it seemed a bit pointless to me. And another made the point that child molesters are generally in it for power, not sexual attraction – also a fair point, and also useless.

    I couldn’t cram it into the last comment.

  197. Oh please could we at least get our definitions correct.

    Heterosexuals – people sexually attracted to the opposite sex.

    Homosexuals – people sexually attracted to the same sex

    pedophile – an adult who is sexually attracted to children

    Pedophiles are not gay

    Pedophiles are not straight

    Pedophiles are not interested in a relationship with a consenting adult.

    Pedophiles what to hurt, have power over and have sex with children.

  198. Pedophiles what to hurt, have power over and have sex with children.

    Well, apparently there’s some debate there.

    Regardless, Kimberly, I didn’t think spelling it out like that would be helpful. I thought our “Pedophiles are all gay lol!” friend up there would think I was being evasive.

  199. Not all troops are religious or homophobic. It is very important to choose one that is not.

    Look for a troop where the average age of the partipating boys is high and the leadership is driven by the more senior scouts’ patrol within the troop rather than a troop where the scout masters are dictators with a cult of young boy followers who quit by the time they’re 14 because it was just another place to be ordered around by an adult.

    There are absolutely institutional problems in the BSA when it comes to intolerance and religion. This is very sad, but a good troop isolates the boys from this and sets a standard that is worth living. Shame on any troop that does not.

    I loved scouting and was active until college.

  200. Regarding the pedophile thing.

    First, why are we including in our discussion molesters of girls? I thought we were talking about the BOY scouts of America.

    Second, we’re probably talking more about sex involving folks over age 12 (I read somewhere that was the limit for calling it pedophilia). Not always, but usually.

    I think that if we’re going to address this at all, we need to ask what is the profile of an adult male who has sex with a teen male (not in the context of gang violence, prison, etc.).

    Has anyone heard of the organization NAMBLA or whatever it’s called? I think that’s for gay men, and I haven’t heard of any other similar organization involving straight men. Just saying – there are indeed some gay men who think sex with teen males is fine – and they want us to think so too.

    NAMBLA aside, a belief that most consensual / nonviolent sex between adult males and teen males involves a homosexual male DOES NOT EQUAL a belief that most homosexual males want to have sex with teen males. I firmly believe that most (not all) homosexual adults do not want young people to be exploited in any way, sexually or otherwise – no different from most (not all) adults, period. My gay friends are disgusted by the thought of dating a minor – even one who actively seeks them out.

    That said, the fact is that sex between a male and a male is homosexual sex – is it not? And although there probably was some degree of power abuse involved in the BSA cases that have occurred, this isn’t a case where heterosexual men are in such an unnatural situation that they resort to what goes against their natue (as occurs in prisons, in victims of severe sexual and physical abuse, etc.).

    And I am wondering why, on this thread full of people who voice the concerns of the gay population, everyone suddenly seems to have amnesia about the existence of bisexuals? You know, people who like sex with their wives AND sex with males?

    For the record, I do not personally like the way BSA representatives have spoken / written about gays or athiests. However, it’s not my organization. My kids are not in it and won’t be, partly because they are girls, and partly because I have always had my own qualms about the organization, different from the above. But if they believe that God is an important part of who they are, that is their right in the USA. If they believe that they need a policy against openly gay scout leaders to avoid driving away their target audience / main supporters, that is their business, not yours or mine.

    The issue of public funding is an interesting one. I personally have no problem saying they don’t deserve any government funds that wouldn’t be given to any other organization that admits to being faith-based. Now if this country could ever get to the point where government support was distributed fairly and with equal consideration for all sensitivities, this part of the discussion might be worth my breath. Maybe on some other planet, but here? Not likely.

  201. Oh, and before you get all excited about my last post, I meant to add: I do NOT personally agree that banning gay scout leaders is going to keep boy scouts safe. But I still believe that it is understandable for the organization to have that policy for CYA purposes. Even if the CYA only amounts to keeping homophobes from keeping their kids away.

  202. First, why are we including in our discussion molesters of girls? I thought we were talking about the BOY scouts of America.

    Blame Lucy. She’s the one who thinks most pedophiles are gay. We can’t let her be WRONG on the INTERNET!

    Second, we’re probably talking more about sex involving folks over age 12 (I read somewhere that was the limit for calling it pedophilia). Not always, but usually.

    Again, blame Lucy. However, it’s still molestation and/or rape even without coercion if the victim is under the age of consent.

    Has anyone heard of the organization NAMBLA or whatever it’s called? I think that’s for gay men, and I haven’t heard of any other similar organization involving straight men. Just saying – there are indeed some gay men who think sex with teen males is fine – and they want us to think so too.

    Yeah, every group has its crazies. NAMBLA no more represents the beliefs of all gay men than the KKK represents the beliefs of all whites.

    NAMBLA aside, a belief that most consensual / nonviolent sex between adult males and teen males involves a homosexual male DOES NOT EQUAL a belief that most homosexual males want to have sex with teen males.

    Again, unfortunately, that’s not what Lucy seems to think. That’s how we got onto this stupid little tangent in the first place.

    That said, the fact is that sex between a male and a male is homosexual sex – is it not? And although there probably was some degree of power abuse involved in the BSA cases that have occurred, this isn’t a case where heterosexual men are in such an unnatural situation that they resort to what goes against their natue (as occurs in prisons, in victims of severe sexual and physical abuse, etc.).

    Well… maybe? It depends on where you consider rape to be. Is it an act of sex, implying desire and lust? Or is it an act of violence, possibly because you hate the victim or want power over them, that sort of thing?

    If it’s the latter – and it might be – then it might not have to do with attraction to these boys at all.

    For example, look at the recent torture case. There’s a lot of “sexual” stuff going on – but it’s clear from the context that these guys weren’t getting off on it, they hated their victims.

    You know, people who like sex with their wives AND sex with males?

    That’s… not how it works. If you’re married, and you’re not in a polyamorous relationship, you can’t have sex with another person and still be moral. Most bisexual people in monogamous relationships are monogamous – or else they’re cheating.

    That’s like defining straight as “people who like sex with their wives AND sex with other women”.

    Now if this country could ever get to the point where government support was distributed fairly and with equal consideration for all sensitivities, this part of the discussion might be worth my breath.

    Gotta disagree with you on this. EVERY bit of mis-directed funding is a bad thing. And you don’t get anywhere by pointing to it all. You take it step by step and point to specific organizations that are getting funding they shouldn’t be getting.

    With the BSA, they aren’t getting just a few small perks. A little bit of this thing isn’t good, but it’s not exactly the worstest thing evah! either. They’re getting a LOT of those “small perks”, and it adds up to a big bundle of benefits they don’t deserve at all. (Alliteration accidental.)

  203. Actually, SKL, re-reading I think we actually agree largely on this, except that we place differing amounts of import on different issues. I’m going to write it down – it’s always a surprise when we agree almost perfectly😛

  204. Uly, whether we’re talking bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual adults having sex with teen boys, we’re not talking about people who are “being moral” where statutory rape is involved. Point is, you can be a man married to a woman (appearing to be “heterosexual / normal”) and still desire sex with males, young or old. And some people will act on such desire.

  205. You’re correct, SKL. Not really sure how this applies to the BSA’s policy on accepting people who are a. straight or b. convincingly in the closet so that nobody doubts they are straight but NOT c. out and proud, but yes, rape is bad.

  206. SKL: Once again, the BSA has officially stated (under oath to the Supreme Court) that their anti-gay policy is not, I repeat not, related to concerns about improper sexual activity involving leaders and kids.

    There have been several organizations advocating sexual contact between adults and young girls: Fresh Petals and the Rene Guyon Society (who were the ones who coined “before 8 or it’s too late,” not, contrary to popular belief, NAMBLA).

  207. There are a huge number of comments here, most of which seem to comment on discrimination within the BSA communities. I admit I haven’t read all of them, but have a comment on a different topic to make:

    I do not consider myself a feminist, except inasmuch as I want equal treatment for both/all genders, but I find many of Rick Prime’s comments in his speech blatantly sexist.

    I read his speech with my jaw on the floor. Much of my astonishment arose from the incongruencies I see here: he seems like a nice guy (good) trying to comment on the character-building side of BSA (good) and its value to boys and adolescents everywhere (good) with, might I add, more than a little enthusiasm (great), and instead comes off as a privileged, sexist man (terrible).

    I think his paragraph here sums up my disbelief:

    The symptom of these problems with education and using video games as an inexpensive baby sitter is the trend of less boys going to college. 40 years ago, the majority of college graduates were men. Now, it has been reported, 60 percent of college graduates are women. For the first time in our history, we have as many women PhDs as men.

    Uhm, Rick, this is because previously women were not ALLOWED into colleges. The overall percentage of male graduates has fallen because the number of women graduating from college has risen from negligible to 60%. Also, why is it a bad thing to have as many women PhDs as men? Again, this does not show a failure on the mens’ part; it simply shows that women have risen into their own.

    Because our culture has glorified escapism and the slacker anti-hero, we are raising a nation of slackers. I feel even worse about the women. The challenge for women who graduate from college is to date a man that is not still living at home with his parents at age 25.

    Rick, this is terribly sexist, even if you don’t realize it. (Not to mention: it is soooooo 18th century.) It is not women’s sole goal to find a certain type of man to date. It is not a man’s job to try to reach certain goals in order to be in a place to take care of a woman. Additionally, there are many people of both sexes living with their parents nowadays at age 25. The reasons have as much to do with job marketability and the economy as anything else and, again, do not represent slackerdom on the part of the men.

    I really appreciate your strong message about the virtues of Boy Scouts and the useful skills you can learn by taking part in it. But I sincerely hope that you reevaluate your statements about men and women’s roles in our society. Thank you.

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