by Michael Ambrose
I am an Eagle Scout.
That fact should be something that I carry with a badge of honor, yet I cannot help feel shame for being affiliated with an organization as close-minded and behind-the-times as the Boy Scouts of America.
I was in scouting for ten years. I joined the Cub Scouts in second grade, and the Boy Scouts after receiving the Arrow of Light (the highest award in Cub Scouting). I held several leadership positions, went on countless weekend camping trips, four week long sleepaway summer camps, earned thirty merit badges and enjoyed some of the most enriching and memorable moments from my youth while in scouting.
Yet, the ignorance of those in charge of the Boy Scouts of America and their ban of homosexual members make it embarrassing to stand behind what should be a proud organization.
Boy Scouting was founded on Christian ideals, and religion plays a role in many aspects of scouting, though, depending on your troop, can play a major or minor role. In the Scout’s Oath, the first thing that each scout promises is to do their best “duty to God,” and reverence is one-of-twelve points in the scout law, and many troops use churches for their weekly meetings.
My experience in scouting could not have been less controversial. Unless I was unaware of what was really going on, there were no issues surrounding any scout, or scout leader’s sexual orientation. Had there been issues of discrimination don’t think I would have kept with scouting, and knowing what I know now about how hypocritical scouting is, I would certainly not recommend scouting to someone I knew.
The scout law reads as follows; “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” The Boy Scouts banning of gays openly defies five of those pillars.
The Boy Scouts of America recently revoked a Seattle troop’s charter who stood behind their now openly gay scoutmaster. Does that sound like loyalty to you?
Is it considered friendly, courteous or kind to discriminate against a person for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the character?
Is the Boy Scouts of America exhibiting bravery by being closed-minded and, according to an ABC News report, ignoring suggestions from nine of the largest Scouts councils, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, and continuing its ban on gays.
Boy scouting has been one of the pillars of America’s youth for over one hundred years. Eighteen U.S. Presidents, 57 percent of all NASA astronauts and 18 current U.S. governors participated in scouting. The quality of its graduates are evidence enough of just how valuable the scouting experience can be, which is why it is so frustrating to me that its policies are turning people away from scouting.
The recent explosion of athletes and celebrities coming out is an indication that a large percentage of this country is accepting of all walks of life, and the longer the Boy Scouts of America waits to update their policies, the faster the organization will sink into obscurity.