Column by Caitlin O‘Donnell
O’Donnell is a senior secondary education major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scouting is powerful. I know people mostly see scouting as selling Girl Scout cookies and kids going hiking, but it is so much more than that. I’ve been a Girl Scout all my life, and this summer, when I worked abroad at a Girl Scout and Guide World Center, the biggest lesson I learned was this: The guiding and scouting movement is amazingly influential, and it is teaching youth from every part of the globe about making the world a better place.
Several of the wonderful men I (and probably you) know were Boy Scouts as kids. Of these Scouts, many of them got their Eagle Scout awards, most of them have sick fire-building skills and almost all of them are shining examples of what Boy Scouts say they believe, which is “that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society.”
Do you know what’s not a shining example of building a great society? Homophobia. Teaching the youth of America to exclude and bully others based on their sexual orientation is actually the exact opposite of making the world a better place. It’s weird, too, because 100 percent of the former and current Boy Scouts who I know and like believe that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are worthwhile. Most of these friends of mine are pretty embarrassed that their organization, which is capable of so many awesome things, is acting instead like some racist country club.
This past summer at the international Guiding and Scouting centers, I met Scouts of many ethnicities, classes, genders, ages and sexual orientations who played together, lived together and learned together. This is what a great society looks like, and that kind of community is exactly what scouting
is all about.
Come on, Boy Scouts of America. What, are you scared that teaching a gay 10-year-old how to build fires will make your camping trips just too fabulous? Calm down and please pretend you actually care about the youth you’re claiming to support. I say pretend because if you really, truly believed in empowering young boys to make the world a better place, we wouldn’t be having this debate here in 2013. The decision not to exclude LGBTQ youth and leaders should have been made a long, long time ago.
At this point, the Boy Scouts of America are quickly losing sponsors and public support for adhering to their anti-gay policies. Proponents of continuing outdated homophobia in the Boy Scouts claim that as a private organization, they may do as they choose to maintain their “values.”
Great, but do you really want to stick with the same arguments Boy Scouts used in 1913 to keep African-American boys out of their troops? If people are concerned about the moral erosion of America, or whatever, they have every right to teach their sons to be bullies on their own time, but please don’t pretend this is part of scouting.
Teaching kids outdoor skills is worthless if you aren’t also teaching them character, integrity and compassion. I refuse to believe that Boy Scouts of America is only capable of teaching boys to become stoic, closed-minded outdoorsmen, and it’s time that Boy Scouts as an organization grows to encompass what I believe is one of the better points of its law: a Scout is kind. Girl Scouts embody this by being inclusive and inspiring change to actually make the world a better place. We can’t wait for the Boy Scouts to come join this campfire circle.