Proud of the Boy Scouts

by Camille on May 24, 2013

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to end its ban on openly gay youth joining the organization, and I’d like to say

WAY TO GO SCOUTS!!!

According to NBC, over 61 percent of 1,232 delegates voted to lift the ban. Of course, they still have a ban on openly gay leaders, but hopefully, in time, that ban will be lifted too. Most seem to agree that it’s a step in the right direction.

Well, except for all the intolerant folks on Facebook and Twitter who have blasted the decision, threatened to pull their kids out of scouting, and basically decided gay scouts are a harbinger for doomsday.

I’ve read some of their comments and have gritted my teeth so hard that my jaw aches. So, for your reading pleasure, here are a few of the things I’ve read with my responses:

“I don’t want gay men staying in the tent with my sons!”

Why?  Studies have shown that a gay person is no more likely to be a pedophile than a straight person. And your child isn’t automatically safe from harm simply because an adult is straight. Responsible agencies should require background checks and extensive references for anyone working with children, but it’s up to you as a parent to make sure your child is educated about appropriate and inappropriate behavior before you send him or her off on a camping trip with anyone. Honestly, I’m not letting my child stay in a tent with anyone I don’t know. Once I know a person, his or her sexuality doesn’t matter to me….only if they are a good and kind influence who will protect and love my child. I don’t think a person’s sexual preferences have anything to do with that.

“What if a gay kid sleeps next to my son?” 

For little kids, they will probably joke about farts or trade Nintendo DS games or try sneaking out of the tent to go prank another group. And if you’re worried about a gay child “hitting on” your son as he gets older, again, I refer to your parenting responsibilities. Chances are, you child is already in school, on a soccer team, or in Sunday School class with gay teens. Are you going to pull him out of school field trips? Who knows what will happen on the bus?! Youth group lock-ins? As one who had her underwear stolen and put in the freezer and saw three separate couples round second base in the skate room, I can assure you, supervision isn’t always the best. It’s up to you to teach your child how to be respectful and tolerant  of others while calmly but firmly turning away any unwanted advances. All kids, straight or gay, need to know this.

“The purpose of the BSA is to positively influence character development. The law is to ‘do my duty to God and my country, to help other people…’ ” 

Mmmkay. So telling a vulnerable kid who has likely already experienced exclusion, judgment, and hate that he can’t be part of your group is honoring God and helping others? Which God are we talking about, exactly? My Jesus made it a common practice to include people….especially the people the majority treated as outcasts. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, the BSA isn’t excluding other sinners. Is the organization going to ban membership to obese boys, because you know gluttony is condemned too, right? Will boys who throw a few punches be kicked out? Curse? Smoke? Express jealousy? Gossip? Unless you’re going to punish all “sins” with expulsion, then it’s really not fair to choose one is it?

Personally, I want my child to build character by growing up surrounded by diversity. I want my child to know how to accept and love people….the way Jesus did. Character is learning not to be threatened by differences.

“I don’t have to support an organization that goes against God’s teachings with my time and money!”

True. Likely, we disagree on the interpretation of God’s teachings, but you can certainly spend your time and money wherever you like. So, if you don’t support the BSA, I’m assuming you also will absolutely refuse to shop at Target, JCPenny, or Amazon? Levi’s Jeans? Chunk ’em! Microsoft computer software? Nope. Also, you need to stop spending at Applebees, Coca-Cola, Gap, McDonalds, Nike, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Rite Aid, Sears, Starbucks, Walgreens, Walt-Disney, and more.

“I don’t want to expose my child to these issues at a young age.”

I agree that children mature at different ages and there are appropriate times to explain different elements of society and life. I also believe that intolerance and discomfort are learned, and that it’s our job to model love. If you choose to teach your children that homosexuality is a sin, that’s your choice, but be so careful that you do not teach them to hate. To exclude. To belittle. To judge. Because those things are not of God, and I’m pretty sure no boy scout ever has thought, “Gee. They banned me because they love me. They just hate my sin.” Like it or not, your kids are growing up in a world that is increasingly welcoming to and supportive of LGBT families. Your kids are going to share their classrooms, their jobs, and their communities with many different types of families. In my opinion, the sooner they learn to appreciate differences, the better.

“Why don’t all the gay scouts just go start their own organization?”

Heck, while we’re at it, why don’t we make all the gay people wear gold stars on their clothes so we know who they are? Or what about separate but equal for scouting, because that totally worked in the past. Folks, these young people want to be part of the Boy Scouts of America….the same one to which their fathers and grandfathers belong. They want to learn to tie cool knots, start fires, and build stuff. They need strong leadership, compassionate support, and loyal friendships. They don’t want to be excluded just because they’ve made the decision to be open and honest about their sexuality. There are also numerous feasibility problems with the “start a new organization” argument. While in bigger cities, it might be possible to form “gay-only” scout groups, that’s not really an option for the suburbs and smaller towns where scouting is most popular. Furthermore, I hate the idea of teaching our children, “If you disagree with someone, send them away. Separate. Fellowship only with those who believe exactly as you do.” That doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy for life, and it’s distinctly anti-Jesus. He made a point of seeking out the ostracized members of society. He brought people together. Do you really think Jesus would tell a 16-year-old kid he wasn’t welcome on a camping trip? Obviously, we don’t know the same guy.

So, in conclusion, I’d like to say to my brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s okay if you disagree with me. I don’t believe we all have to interpret every part of Scripture exactly the same way, but I do believe above all else, Jesus was clear about loving people. Therefore, even if you do think homosexuality is wrong, please don’t let your opinions be an excuse to withhold love. Please look at the things you’ve said on social media and ask yourself, “Would a gay person know that God loved him from my words? Would that person feel he could share his hurts with me? Ask me to pray with him?” Or would the person simply see hate, judgment, and fear?

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