Events of this past week leave me astounded and a bit depressed. I have continuously worked in Boy Scouting for over 29 years. In the beginning, I knew it was a valuable program and probably enjoyed the program and companionship of like minded friends. As time progressed, I began to get a better view of the complete scouting program and began to understand the scope of the program and what we were really trying to accomplish. It is so much more than teaching a boy to camp in the outdoors, to build fires, and to tie knots. We were, when successful, giving him tools that could aid in his success throughout his lifetime. That is powerful stuff!
This week, the Boy Scouts of America announced that a proposal was going to be voted on next week to change a key membership requirement. The BSA rule that excluded homosexuals has been a subject of debate for several years and it seems that now enough forces have gathered to bring about a change to the rules. Initially, I was devastated. I have long held the view that such a move would effectively cause the end of scouting as I know it. This is not so much that it violates my personal views but that it would set off a massive withdrawal of membership and sponsorship which is largely by religious institutions. After digesting the news of this coming change, I began thinking about this change and how I really felt about it, I began a process of evaluating how I felt about the change, what my views on the subjects involved really were, and what the correct path should be for the BSA. After much inner debate, my views began to crystallize. While the debate centers on the membership of homosexuals, I began to realize that allowing them to become members really would not devastate the program but rather would strengthen it over time because excluding them was damaging because the there was no reason for doing so except for the fears of a segment of our society as well as a segment of our own membership. While I do not fully understand what causes a person to take on this lifestyle, the people themselves are not much different than anyone else and sexual orientation has no affect on whether those persons could receive the benefits of Scouting. The segment of Society and also that segment in Scouting that feel these individuals pose a threat to our youth membership are sadly mistaken and this rule excluding them was instituted only 20 years ago when members of that segment rose to positions of power within BSA. Homosexuality is a lifestyle but the danger to the youth is pedophiles. Being a homosexual does not also make you a pedophile no more than being a heterosexual make you one.
For those whose religious views lead them to believe that homosexuality is a sin, the opportunity to instill values in those youth and by association to influence those adults who come into the program should be welcomed. That is the Scouting Way. That is what we do for all different religions and people of all sects–except homosexuals. The outpouring of venom and hate toward these individuals that I have witnessed this week appalls me. It goes completely against the ideals that I have worked so hard for through these years. What is even worse though is that most of this venom and hatred that I am witnessing is coming from individuals that call themselves Scouters. People that can exhibit this kind of behavior and attribute it to their “religion” or the values of Scouting should not be leading and influencing youth because that is not an acceptable mode of behavior. So that is why I am depressed.
I know I will work through this and go on Scouting and working with my boys. This is what I do and what I believe in. Perhaps by my example and leadership, I can influence even just a few young men to help make this world a better place. The events of this week sadden me but hopefully they have strengthened me and they will increase my resolve to work toward leaving this world a little better place than I have witnessed it to be. This is Dan’s World and welcome to it!