My journey to shoot for the moon.

I suspect this will be a controversial post.  But it has been on my mind and I find that I can’t quite let it rest.

First of all, let me say that individually and on a troop level, the Boy Scouts are generally amazing, accomplished young men.  I have no problems with individual Boy Scouts.  My co-teacher (TB) in Illinois at AAUW Preschool has a son who, I believe, was an Eagle Scout.  The scouts did a lot of volunteer projects building things at the preschool and they were very nicely done.  Another friend has been a troop leader (JW) and her boys are in Scouts.  But…As I’ve said before, there is always a but.  But, I strongly disagree with the “endorsement” our School Board recently gave to the Boy Scouts.  Let me explain further.

There were Boy Scouts at a recent Board of Education (BoE) Meeting to fulfill the commitment to attend a public meeting.  Great!  The BoE recognized the boys who were there.  Again, great!  But (remember, there is always a but), then one of the Board Members went on to “endorse” and “support” the Boy Scouts.

He commented that the Boy Scouts were a great organization and that he wanted to see more of them in the schools.  Huh?  This was the same week that Jennifer Tyrrell made the news because of her petition to have the Boy Scouts reinstate her as a Cub Scout Leader.  She was removed because she did not “meet the high standards of membership that BSA seeks” (you can read Jennifer’s own words here) because of her sexual orientation.  Furthermore, the Boy Scouts of America is fundamentally a religious organization.  Atheists and Agnostics are not welcome to be leaders within the Boy Scouts because of their “lack” of belief in G*d.  Most Boys Scout Troops are supported (and “endorsed”) by churches.  To be fair, there are a few troops that are sponsored by Jewish Religious Groups and other religious groups, but the vast majority are church sponsored.

There have been legal challenges to the Boy Scouts of America’s policies on homosexuality, atheism and agnosticism but because they are a private organization they are allowed to discriminate.  I won’t even contest that they are allowed to do so by law.  But, to endorse this organization at a School Board Meeting?  An organization that believes some should be excluded because of their sexual orientation or religious beliefs?  Somehow that doesn’t seem to fit with the expectations of a School District and a BoE.  Aren’t the schools restricted from discrimination because they are public institutions?

I’m not even saying that elected officials cannot support the Boy Scouts.  Regardless of their discriminatory policies, the Boy Scouts do good in the community.  However, to have a BoE Member, in the middle of a public meeting, state that we should see more Boy Scouts in the schools; to say it was a worthy organization to be supported by the community and should be “honored” by the BoE, is downright disgusting.

Again, I am not saying that a BoE Member (or any other elected official) is not entitled to their opinion.  I am saying that it was inappropriate to “endorse” the Boy Scout Organization during a public meeting.  These particular Boy Scouts were not being recognized for their community service, they were attending a meeting.  It was totally appropriate to recognize their attendance.  It was quite another thing to give them a glowing recommendation and encourage more participation in the schools (in fact, there was a discussion between BoE members regarding the restrictions for allowing the Boy Scouts to “advertise” their meetings on school property and how those restrictions were “too strict”).

It really scares me to think of where this “endorsement” may lead us.

What do you think?  Should a School Board Member be allowed to endorse a blatantly discriminatory organization?  Even if it is the Boy Scouts?

Follow-up…I wrote this post before I read about Eagle Scouts writing letters and sending back their awards.  I am in awe of these men, who have taken a stand for what they believe in and who have sent a message to the Boy Scouts of America saying that they are ashamed of their discrimination.  You can read about their protest here.


Comments on: "The Boy Scouts and the Schools" (1)

  1. As a child, I was a Girl Scout who whole heartedly recruited my mother to be Cookie Captain and sold my Girl Scout cookies door to door to see just what my sales potential could be. I still have the patch that I earned in 4th grade for selling over 100 boxes of cookies. I put in the effort. I earned the cash to be put towards CAMPING. Unfortunately, I was in a troop of girls whose parents were totally unwilling to go to the First Aid training. And so, all of that money was forever lost to me because the troop could not go camping without a trained leader. The other girls were refunded their money, but because I moved away to the suburbs, I never saw a cent.

    I never forgot how much that sucked. And when I had children, I loved to do alot of activities. My family kind of started resisting all my exciting plans… I was a stay at home mom with no car and my kids were socially akward. Cub Scouts seemed like a natural way for my son to spend time with his Dad, with the added benefit, that they’d have monthly outings and monthly meetings with patches. There was no charge for the activities as long as the scout sold popcorn for a few weeks in the fall. That fit our budget perfectly. Since I wasn’t the one organizing these events, it seemed like a win win… I got to go watch my son enjoy things with kids who were in the same den and couldn’t exactly abandon him as their friend because they had to stick together… and they were all the same age group attending the same school.

    Well, it started out as an awesome plan. Until the leaders moved up to the troop and I was a bored, creative stay at home mom with all the time in the world on her hands. I volunteered to be a Leader and ended up taking on every role but Den Leader with my oldest son. I never once, in all my time with scouts, ran into this issue of not admitting gays into the pack or troop leadership. I attended every possible training available to me so that my children and the other children COULD go camping the way that I was not allowed to. I gave my time and energy to the children so that they never had to go through what I went through. I watched the child protection videos and got extensive training about never leaving a scout alone with ANY one person. Two up leadership was the requirement. NEVER ONCE did I ever see this anti gay or anti religion mentioned or demonstrated. I was totally unaware that this was an issue at all.

    Overall, my oldest son stayed in scouts for about 6 years. My youngest son stayed to complete Cub Scouts (4.5 years) but did not continue on into a troop. I switched from a very large pack with a huge treasury to a very tiny pack in the inner city with no treasury whatsoever. I led dens of scouts who had no fathers and who told me they received not one thing for Christmas. Parents dropped off their kids and did not stay for the meetings at my new pack. I paid for every thing I used and never received a cent toward my expenses. I completed my training… I committed myself to being a leader who did everything she knew how to let these kids forget about their lack of money and toys at home and educated them on first aid, hiking, manners and how not to make pinewood derby cars or rockets. I did my best… and they did too…

    My father was a boy scout. My grandfather was a boy scout. Both of them were leaders. Scouting was a big part of my family history and it seemed like a great fit for me to get involved and give back to my community.

    In my tenure as a leader, I have watched my friend’s 11 year old brand new boy scout pass away from meningitis and saw an entire funeral parlor overtaken with Scouts standing watch over their scout friend. I watched those young scouts as pall bearers for Tyler… I also watched my Cubmaster’s son Joey who was an Eagle Scout and Army ranger return from war in a hearse… he was killed inventorying an armory in Afghanistan.

    Yes, our pack and troop met in a church. Never once was a word mentioned about God or prayer. Never once were we enticed to attend their services. Our school alone had 7 different packs you could choose from and some met in the schools. Our scout district’s goals seemed to me to be as simple as providing boys a safe environment to search, discover and share…

    Having given so many hours of service to my community, I really and truly don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of my being involved with boy scouts. I personally wish that the people who spend their time spreading this hatred would invest their energies into giving their children or local community as many hours of service as I have and then see if they have the energy left to sit back and judge someone who never knew, was never exposed to this discrimination and has seen first hand how much tolerance this group has exercised to be able to create an environment that embraces scouts and their parents…

    This is not my battle… I have thought deeply about where I stand on the issue, but overall, it was never an issue in our area. I can not agree or disagree with it. I know what I feel in my heart and it’s not for the whole world to judge me on the internet over.


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