Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oliver, Boy Scouts, Bullshit



My son Oliver was sad today to learn that the Boy Scouts of America have reaffirmed their discriminatory ban on gay members. He's sad enough that he isn't going to join the Eagle Scouts in the fall, something that he looked forward to doing after five successful years as a Cub Scout. I know some of you might think that it's because of my influence that he's chosen not to be a part of an organization that allows open discrimination toward a person because of his sexuality. After all, he's only eleven and what does an eleven year old need to know about sexuality anyway? I don't go around telling everyone that I prefer having sex with women, a scout leader told me once a few years ago as a response to my question about whether it bothered him that people are banned from serving as leaders if they're gay. I was feeling our troop out, trying to come up with an answer for Oliver who had come home from selling popcorn for his pack wondering why one of his friends had told him that his family didn't want to support an organization that thought his two mothers were immoral. I told him that our pack was a very tolerant, good one and not to worry about it, but I also told him the truth -- that it was an official rule to discriminate against people who loved people of the same sex --  so I guess I planted the seed of doubt in Oliver's mind. That seed took firmer hold when he badgered me with questions about the scout oath and why did they say you had to "be kind," but they didn't like gay people to guide them? 

He's a very sensitive and ultimately sensible kid who thought the whole rule was just stupid, bad and wrong.


So, I agreed with him at the time, shaking my head at the stupidity, and assuring him that people were working on overturning that rule.

I guess not, for now.

So, Oliver is giving up something he loves in protest, and that does make me proud. I told him that the Girl Scouts are much more inclusive, and he replied, And they sell good cookies!


I guess we'll be buying a whole lot of cookies next spring. But he definitely would not want to be a Girl Scout, he told me. That's not as stupid as the Boy Scouts rule, but they're giiiiiiiirls.

29 comments:

  1. My kids come in contact with an organization that has the same view on homosexuality and I have no qualms about telling them otherwise. I think in the end it is a good thing for a child to come across people that hate because it teaches them to stand up for what is right.

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  2. I have more to say... :-)

    I think it is awesome that Oliver is strong and standing up to this. It takes a lot of courage for a child of 11 to go against the flow. You should be very proud. You have amazing kids.

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  3. I am trying to think of a reason why they would take this stand. Every time I think of a possibility, it doesn't make sense. I'm sorry that means that Oliver is going to miss out on something that he has looked forward to for so long, but I admire his principles - and at such a tender age!

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  4. Oliver is a good egg: sensible and sensitive. He knows right from wrong. I have a facebook friend whose son is struggling with whether he should stay with the scouts: he has two moms. they have a troop that is very inclusive and mom has made it clear that son can stay if he wants. He doesn't like their discriminatory policies, very very personal for him, but he is going to stay. I respect both Oliver's decision and this other child's.

    I Googled "Alternatives to Boy Scouts" and found several threads where people are asking the same question. No really good answers, though, other than to start your own kind of group. Pooh.

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  5. see http://www.ymcatriangle.org/Y_Guides.aspx

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  6. What a crock of shit. The boyscouts cannot keep this up. It's just so flagrantly wrong.
    Oliver is smart and kind. Ironically, just the kind of boy that the boyscouts would want to have as one of their own.
    I am proud of him! And I am proud of his mama, too.

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  7. I bet he can find some Outward Bound types of adventuring that encompass the better qualities of the Boy Scouts, without the politics. He's so incredibly cute in that uniform...

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  8. Yay for Oliver. He will be a fine young man without the Boy Scouts, I'm sure. But I'll bet that things will change.
    If he were my son, I'd be very proud.

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  9. Good on Oliver!
    And good job, Mom!!

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  10. What a boy you're raising. And what a bunch of bullshit from the BSA--I was a Girl Scout until I graduated high school, and got my Gold award and always figured that my kids would be scouts, so it's pretty sad to see that the Boyscouts are still hanging on to such outdated beliefs. Boo to them. And what a remarkable and kind boy who refuses to play by those rules.

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  11. "I don't go around telling everyone that I prefer having sex with women, a scout leader told me once a few years ago as a response to my question about whether it bothered him that people are banned from serving as leaders if they're gay."

    Really? He doesn't say he has a wife or a girlfriend? So its fine with him for a man to say "My husband"? Just as long as he doesnt' say "I am gay"? Right...

    Wow Elizabeth good for Oliver!

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  12. Crying.

    I'm so proud of Oliver. I'm so proud of his mother, too. Tell Oliver that I was thinking about putting my sons into Boy Scouts this year. And thanks to him, it's official a no for us.

    He is brave and makes me braver.

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  13. Oliver sounds like a great boy, so brave. It's hard to follow your beliefs when you want to fit in as well. You are a terrific mom, elizabeth.

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  14. I would be so proud of a child like that I don't think I could even contain myself. what an amazing young man, and critical thinker. That boy is going places in this world.

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  15. That's sad. Sad especially about the organization, because it doesn't even know itself. It isn't homosexuality it fears. It's pedophilia. And a lot of these old-school, un-evolved folks don't understand that there is a ginormous difference.

    And its recent reaffirmation only comes in the wake of the Sandusky thing. This 'secret committee' is keeping anonymous because they don't want to be cross-examined about what it is they are truly afraid of.

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  16. wow, i am impressed with this little guy. you have an incredible son!

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  18. Whoops, trying again.

    Ugh. My son's been asking and I'm torn. I want him to have the experience, more time with other kids, learn to camp & build a fire (we're reading My Side of the Mtn right now & he's FASCINATED), but what do I tell his favorite uncles?

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  19. It is so sad that an organization with such a strong, rich history would choose to take a stand like this on something that has no bearing on the mission of the organization at all. I agree with Oliver that it is important to align himself with something he can believe in. What a tough decision for him.

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  20. A truly offensive and regrettable decision by the BS hierarchy...the same type of "olde boys" club that runs te RC Church and just as good at "covering-up"...no wonder so many troops are sponsored by RC Churches!

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  21. Oliver is better off without the Boy Scouts. As one of your posters said, perhaps Outward Bound or some similar group would be a viable alternative. I was a Boy Scout, and I found the experience miserable -- a sort of paramilitary stomping ground for bullies. (And I loved Cub Scouts, too, which made the horrors of Boy Scouts even worse!)

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  22. If the BSA is not meeting your needs and your children want the experience BSA provides, without the homophobia, why not start a new organization like BSA but inclusive and not hateful? New things have to start somewhere. And BSA doesn't have a legal monopoly on learning how to live in the great outdoors.

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  23. If you can't join 'em, beat 'em at their own game!

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  24. Pretty soon it's just going to be a bunch of old Boy Scout leaders eating at Chick Fil A. It's amazing that we're talking about this in 2012! I am very proud of Oliver and not one bit surprised by his very mature decision.

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  25. We said goodbye to them, too. Too much ridiculous bigotry, not enough hiking and camping (and too much fucking emphasis on popcorn). X decided to leave a while ago.

    Have you seen this doc? http://www.scouts-honor.com/

    Also: Oliver is a precious and beautiful little dude.

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  26. Just like the Catholic Church, their "kindness" is conditional. When an organization won't welcome my beautiful son, then I don't want any part of it. Don't understand how this can still exist today.

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  27. My son upon returning from a semester in Australia just before his 18th birthday said I want to get my Eagle Scout. He had completed most of the requirements at a younger age, but we had left the church that sponsored scouts and he had not attended in 3 years. A self-proclaimed agnostic, long haired skateboarder and rebellious youth somehow pulled it off raising money(2400.00), working with the city, buying, and planting 22 trees at the skatepark. All was well until his board of review -- Tuck your shirt in -- comb your hair -- you should think about cutting it -- stand up straighter -- on and on before he went in. It sounded like me. He shut down and barely talked to them. He passed, got the Eagle, but has a bit of a hurt spot for them judging them so harshly on his appearance. We jokingly say he was the first non scout to receive the Eagle.

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  28. My good friend and I had sons in Scouts together, my friend, trina even took on the role of pack leader in our lovely elementary school den w everyone in it expressing a shared value system. Well as the kids grew and moved on to middle school trina gave up her volunteer role, and as she set out to find paid employment quite naturally applied to the BSA. To her surprise the BSA requires that you sign some sort of affadavit in order to apply for employment that involves affirming your beliefs in everything BSA. She was shocked at the extreme nature of the statements that she was to affirm and could not apply. I'm afraid these are long standing beliefs that are not going to change anytime soon... it's very sad that they are the only game in town, as they do offer a great many opportunitiesfor for families to enjoy social, educational and outdoor activities that are very accessible in most communities. I would be hard pressed to find an outward bound program near my home...BSA is at the church at the end of the street.

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  29. God, I would be so proud. So proud.

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