As a former Boy Scout I can tell you this has always troubled me. Fortunately the boys in my troop were not the kind to go around calling people "fags" or anything like that. But the leaders were a different story. I remember not being that great at some of the more "manly" activities scouts are supposed to excel in. Plus, I didn't exactly like getting sweaty or dirty - and if an activity involved both of these, forget it! While not one called me a "fag" for my aversion to things other boys thrived on, they did comment that I was "acting like a girl".
This always seemed so strange to me. I knew lots of girls who loved to get sweaty and dirty. My sister - although very feminine - was certainly one of them! The fact that they called my behavior girlish implied that my sister was acting like a boy. This just blew my mind. Perhaps I was too logical for these men.
Theirs is a rigid intolerance. But the point of this rant is not to bash the intolerant, but rather to say that the real travesty of all this is that the men who continue to deny gay men and boys the ability to participate in the Boy Scouts are doing a great disservice to us all. We need the Boy Scouts, perhaps now more than ever. The Boy Scouts has a great curriculum where boys can learn so many amazing things that aren't taught in school, or even by many parents in this busy day and age.
The Boy Scouts teaches boys to be self-directed learners, how to seek out mentors from people in the community, how to be creative when coming up with solutions to community problems and how to plan, organize and implement those solutions through community service projects.
Furthermore, Boy Scouts are encouraged to be fit-minded. They are taught to respect their bodies and their minds, and not to pollute them with things that will cause harm to themselves or to others. In this age where childhood obesity is being talked about as an epidemic poised to topple our already crippled healthcare system and irrevocably damage our ability as a country to defend ourselves, we need the Boy Scouts to be inclusive, because by remaining exclusive they are acting in ways that defy the intention of the organization altogether. The model of building up fit boys for the future of our country must be salvaged, wrestled away from the bigots for the common good!
Let's not forget that, according to the Boy Scout Oath, a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. These qualities are not reserved for straight folks. In fact, they are not reserved for any of us. We must each choose to strive to be these things every day - regardless of sexual orientation or any other determining factor for that matter!
For those of you who wonder why, in light of the Boy Scouts of America's continuing prejudice against gays, I would continue to align this blog with the mission of the Boy Scouts, pursuing the merit badges I missed out on when I dropped out the Boy Scouts organization sometime during my early teen years, please know this: I will not let anyone keep me down, and I will not back away from the challenge of becoming the best man I can be just because someone says I am not "morally" fit to do so. I am committed to living my life as a man of merit today and everyday - and I'm not going to let a few, narrow-minded traditionalists at the top of the Boy Scouts organization push me out again.
Just like Gandhi said: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
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