Well, I was really impressed by our editor, Matt Comer, when he took to the airwaves and penned a commentary on CNN’s HLNTV.com last week sharing his story of being excluded from Boy Scouts as a teen when he came out. It broke my heart and still does today.
I don’t know about you folks, but Scouting was one of the biggest character and personal development tools I had growing up. I joined the Brownies in the second grade and continued on for 10 more years, passing through Juniors, Cadet and Senior levels until I graduated from high school.
When my family went to Florida on vacation, I’d head to camp (as an adult, I wonder why I never did both). But, it seemed to be my choice and it was one that I embraced.
The songs, the camping out, the badge quest, cookie drives and more. They all were a composite of happy days and ones that are so special to me.
I remember going to camp and having lesbians in some of my units (I went four years). I also recall a few camp counselors who were part of the “tribe.” Whether you were a lesbian or not, those counselors were the ones that everyone flocked to for comfort and advice. They were the ones who were gregarious and presented you with lots of amazing challenges. The camp mates were also energetic and never brought their agenda to the table, so to say. They simply wanted to just “be.”
When I think of how incredible Matt is and how much more he would have been given in his potential for growth, I am taken back. How could an organization that spouts integrity and loyalty and more, be so shortsighted? How can “they” deny a kid a chance to better himself? How can it be that something so normal as Scouting, be so off-limits if one is gay?
Personally, I deplore what the Scouts have done in their repetitive decision to disallow gay membership. I think it’s a travesty to preclude a young gay boy from experiencing what straight boys get instantaneously.
I took a look at the motto and oath of the Boy Scouts and saw that one of the lines of the promise read: “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” I think that the powers that be have taken that line too literally. The straight part lends itself toward honesty and other elements of living a life that is imbued with strength of character. It’s not an issue of being straight vs. gay.
In a country that is now living in a post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reality, how can boys be developed to “do my duty to God and my country” if they are not given the opportunity? The U.S. was created out of the need for freedom on many scores.
The laws never say that you have to be straight only if you want to be a member. And, the motto says to be prepared. Again, how do boys “prepare” themselves if they are denied from service?
Personally, I think that the BSA stands for something else: Bigoted Straight Adults. They can’t let their guard down for a minute to see how their actions may be, and in many cases are, harmful to a developing kid. The boys in today’s world really don’t give a dang about one’s sexuality. They just want to go to Jamboree and earn Eagle Scout recognition.
To the contrary, the Girl Scout movement embraces diversity and it is at the center of its core and its philosophy. They “condemn violence or harassment of anyone” and they recognize the “basic human rights of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.”
So, boys? What are you so afraid of? Might be gay yourself and not wanting the minions to know? Scared that if you admitted your own sexual preference, you’d be shunned and ousted? If you don’t stand tall against tyranny, then no one really wins. Take a chance and see how much more powerful Scouting can become. Or, continue to mire yourself in discrimination and see how many of your kids grow up to be intolerant, narrow-minded adults.
For me, I certainly would have not felt as confident as a girl growing up if I had not had the incredible challenges that Scouting gave to me.