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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BSA needs equality for all

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is an organization  near and dear to my heart.  I joined fifteen years ago when my youngest son started as a Tiger Cub.  He has long since aged out of the Scouting program, but I am still quite involved as Scout Master for Troop 1056.   Each year, our Troop attends a week long summer camp program at Ingersoll Scout Reservation.  Throughout the many years, I have had the opportunity to watch young scouts on staff grow from little thirteen year old CIT's to mature young men taking on the leadership roles at camp. 

I want to tell you about one scout whom I watched grow before my very eyes over the years at camp. I met him as a CIT when he was young and silly and full of so much energy and goodness.  It was impossible to be down when he was around.  In fact, I don't recall ever seeing him not upbeat.  This boy was on staff for many years and made a big impact on both youth and adults.  In addition to his Scouting duties, he was also active in other youth organizations, making a difference  wherever he was involved.  He was respected by both his elders and his peers.  All this while he was still considered a youth himself.  This leads one to believe his involvement would continue as an adult.  Unfortunately, he is not being allowed, and so many youth are missing out.  You see, this Scout, now a Scouter (leader over the age of eighteen) is gay.

BSA has a ruling allowing gay boys to be Boy Scouts, earning merit badges, being voted into the Order of the Arrow, becoming Eagle Scouts, and leading younger scouts....until they are eighteen.  Once they reach this age, they are considered adult leaders in the program.  A program that does not allow gay or lesbian leaders.  As a woman, I am able to lead the boys, go swimming with them, go camping with them, have them in my car with me, yet a gay man or lesbian woman cannot.  What is up with that? 

Just recently, a United Methodist Church in Seattle Washington has had its Charter with BSA removed because they stood behind their Scout Master, who happens to be gay.   

Shame on BSA for depriving this Troop of its Scout Master.  Shame on BSA for depriving so many youth of great leadership from the Scout I told you about.  Shame on BSA for being closed minded.  This organization will allow Scouters who are alcoholics or drug addicts (not under the influence while doing their Scout duties).  BSA will allow Scouters who have no business being leaders due to their inability to know how to properly deal with youth, yet they will not allow persons to be Scouters who have a Scouting background and are proven to be excellent leaders and role models just because of their sexual orientation.  I believe it is time for the Boy Scouts of America to re-evaluate their discriminatory policy against gay and lesbian Scouters. 

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