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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » A Landmark of Sorts - Returning My Eagle Badge (Page 1)

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Author Topic: A Landmark of Sorts - Returning My Eagle Badge
Raymond Arnold
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Recently the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed a policy of expelling members who are openly gay. I joined a number of Eagle Scouts, returning our badges in protest and passing the accompanying letters around facebook.

The image is available here.

For ease of reading, the text is here:

quote:
To Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive:

My name is Raymond Arnold. I earned my Eagle badge eight years ago.

I'm not writing this for you. Or even for the internet, really. And to be honest, I'm not even writing it for the young people you are trying to shame into secrecy, as awful as that is. This is just for me.

Giving back my Eagle badge is a personal little ritual. Months of frustration, pressed into a small, cheap icon that only has meaning because I decide it does. I’m holding it in my hand for the first time in a while, and it feels a lot heavier than it should. Like there's a whole person inside it - somebody I used to be.

My moral outlooks have evolved. I've spent the last year grappling with worldscale problems that most people don't even think of as solvable. Any attempt to fix them feels like a pointless drop in the bucket. I'm trying to make my drop bigger, maybe big enough that it ripples a bit. But even that is exhausting, and it's breaking me, and I probably only have a few more years before I’ve changed into yet another person, burnt out and cynical.

I think it might take me longer than usual - in part because of a commitment to self-improvement that scouting instilled in me. I hope I can find a balance, and keep going as long as possible. I went on a camping trip a few weeks ago, the first in years. I was proud to be able to share a beautiful, relaxing experience with close friends, some of whom had never camped before. We slept under the stars. It was the most peace I've had in months.

Then I came home, and learned that the BSA have reaffirmed an official policy of discrimination.

I'm not even angry. Just… so very tired. And sad.

There are many ways to be moral. There's day to day, interpersonal morality - being courteous and kind to the people you come across, loyal to your friends. There’s personal morality - being thrifty, clean, and cheerful even when you’re on your own. There's obedience to rules, people and organizations that you have chosen as authorities. But also the bravery necessary to speak out against them, when they are truly wrong.

And there's a kind of deeper morality - a reverence for something vast and true and powerful and important.

I'm an atheist, but I believe in humanity. We have big problems, but I believe we can beat them.

But it’s hard, sometimes, to imagine a better future. When my own brethren seem to struggle with the simplest of moral concepts - that love is a good thing. The most important thing in all the world, that makes every drop in the bucket worth it, and you are deliberately trying to destroy it. So that’s it. I’m done. Take this little icon. It doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. I wonder if it’ll mean anything to you when it arrives.

On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to humanity. To help other people at all times. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.


Sincerely,

Raymond Arnold

My feelings about this are rather complex, although not for the reasons one might expect. I'm still sorting them out, but it seemed worth sharing.

[ July 30, 2012, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Rakeesh
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Good on you, man. Respect.

Am I imagining things, or did I read elsewhere about someone returning an Eagle badge on this matter elsewhere? Was that you?

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MattP
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There's been a number of instances lately, possibly triggered by BSA kicking out a lesbian leader. http://www.wtov9.com/news/news/boy-scout-leader-has-membership-revoked-due-sexual/nMbyz/
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Strider
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Rakeesh, Raymond also posted something about it on his facebook.
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Teshi
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Are there no descrimination laws on the books that cover this?

I think it's good that you're doing something to show your disapproval.

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Samprimary
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I was a boy scout too! A pretty damn good one at that. I loved my troop, too. I have nothing but happy memories about being a scout. So it sucks a little to watch them do this, because

1. whether they realize it or not, there is no better way for them to turn the institution into a mostly defunct, withered relic over the course of a single generation. This is essentially a great way to destroy themselves, and
2. I can't be arsed to care, because as much as I liked them, they're ultimately doing it to themselves and they're doing it by clinging onto ugly, bigoted discrimination.

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AchillesHeel
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Good for you Raymond.
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dkw
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Good for you Raymond.

It makes me sad, because I have two young sons, and I think scouting would be good for them. But we won't be joining.

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SteveRogers
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I never got my Eagle Scout badge (my merit badge stamina petered out shortly before the Life Badge), but I would do the same as you if I had. I had many wonderful years in Scouts and have many incredible memories (as is the case I'm sure with many others, it played a huge role in my life), but it pains my heart to see they'd continue to make it impossible for other people to have the same opportuniy to build such memories simply because of the way they are.

This is not the Boy Scouts which molded me as a child, and, in some ways, I'm ashamed to be associated with the program now.

The Boy Scouts I thought I was in would have been one of the first programs to open their arms to everyone with equal opportunity.

Edit:

Also, what makes your feelings on the issue complex, Raymond? If you don't mind sharing.

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BlackBlade
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Gosh Raymond. I'm an Eagle Scout too, and now I'm forced to consider if I should do what you've done, and if I have the guts to do it.

I very much want scouting to be a part of my son's upbringing.

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kmbboots
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Good for you, Raymond. That must have been a hard thing to do. It is inspiring when people like you do the right thing when it costs them something. Thank you.
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Samprimary
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I very much want a non-homophobic secular analogue to the scouts to be a part of my hypothetical son or daughter's upbringing, but even if I were willing to look past affirmation of blatant discrimination and exclusion of gays (which I'm not even remotely) it means that said hypothetical son or daughter won't even really have the scouts by the time they get to the appropriate age. They'll just have a withered, conservified outdoorsy church group already declining to irrelevance, going through the self-imposed death of a once common american tradition.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Good for you, Raymond. That must have been a hard thing to do. It is inspiring when people like you do the right thing when it costs them something. Thank you.
This is actually the kind of thought that has me conflicted... because honestly this *didn't* cost me anything. I'm not currently involved in scouting, there are no repercussions for this for me. It was just an obviously right thing to do, probably the most good my badge could accomplish at this point.

Giving away my badge was emotionally intense, but it wasn't hard or costly, and in fact left me feeling a lot better about other things. It became a sort of personal coming of age ritual. It coincided with a difficult week where I had to take responsibility for several unrelated things. By the time I was done, I felt like I had finished shedding a younger, weaker version of myself. I spent last feeling "almost" an adult, despite having my own apartment and job. I don't feel like I'm pretending anymore.

I went through several drafts of the letter, some of which went on rants similar to Samp's ("seriously guys, this fight is over. This particular form of bigotry has lost and it's just another few decades before the monster finishes it's deathspasm"), some of which attempted to move the fight further, expressing concern for transexuals and other groups that don't have as much public support as the gay community.

By the time I was done, I realized that the letter was really more about me, my own frustrations and my own growth than having any particular impact on the BSA. I added the disclaimer to the top because it felt disingenuous to pretend otherwise. It's original intended purpose IS still important, and I think I would have done it even if that was the only reason. It feels a bit weird to get praise for something that ended up benefiting me a lot.

This guy is actually being brave and potentially costing himself something. If the Boy Scouts are to continue being a relevant organization, it'll depend on people like him.

[ July 30, 2012, 01:24 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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kmbboots
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The cost I was talking about was the emotional "effort" (for lack of a better word). Even (maybe especially) if you end up better off, it still counts.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I very much want a non-homophobic secular analogue to the scouts to be a part of my hypothetical son or daughter's upbringing...
It's funny, my own scouting experience as a boy and adolescent was actually quite secular, at least in comparison to what I later learned was much of scouting. We met at the local elementary school, rather than a church, and while we did pray, I think, we never went further than saying 'God' and I don't recall it being mandatory, though memory is hazy.

Our camp activities weren't religious, our service projects weren't, and our focus was pretty thoroughly on the outdoors and simply being good, helpful people. A lot of attention was paid to ordinary decencies that later turned out not to be so ordinary, like 'campsite cleaner than when we arrived' for example, rather than simply 'don't litter'.

It wasn't until quite a lot later when I heard scouting meetings being announced in church, with a nod to 'tell the others who aren't here' but with the knowledge that most of them were that I came to think it wasn't a very secular group after all, in spite of my own local experience. Our scout leaders were engineers and contractors and airmen, and if we had any clergy, I never knew about it. Perhaps quite odd when you consider my troop numbered in the dozens.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
The cost I was talking about was the emotional "effort" (for lack of a better word). Even (maybe especially) if you end up better off, it still counts.

Ah. Yes.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
I very much want a non-homophobic secular analogue to the scouts to be a part of my hypothetical son or daughter's upbringing...
It's funny, my own scouting experience as a boy and adolescent was actually quite secular, at least in comparison to what I later learned was much of scouting. We met at the local elementary school, rather than a church, and while we did pray, I think, we never went further than saying 'God' and I don't recall it being mandatory, though memory is hazy.

Our camp activities weren't religious, our service projects weren't, and our focus was pretty thoroughly on the outdoors and simply being good, helpful people. A lot of attention was paid to ordinary decencies that later turned out not to be so ordinary, like 'campsite cleaner than when we arrived' for example, rather than simply 'don't litter'.

It wasn't until quite a lot later when I heard scouting meetings being announced in church, with a nod to 'tell the others who aren't here' but with the knowledge that most of them were that I came to think it wasn't a very secular group after all, in spite of my own local experience. Our scout leaders were engineers and contractors and airmen, and if we had any clergy, I never knew about it. Perhaps quite odd when you consider my troop numbered in the dozens.

That was my experience as a scout as well.
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Teshi
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In many countries, Guiding and Scouting is very secular-- despite them all maintaining the original religious spiritual aspect (Canada and South Africa seem to be traditional but non-denominational). Groups only meet in churches sometimes because they happen to have a room. We sometimes prayed when I was in Guides but I feel that is dying out as an older generation of leaders is replaced with a new one. Certainly my atheist mother who was a Guider for many years never prayed! "God" in the oath is replaced (if you wish) with "my faith" in at least the Canadian Guiding oath.

I believe it's the same or very similar in the UK. Certainly you can be any religion and I'm pretty sure it's "any religion or none".

Scouting UK has released its own, non-discriminatory press release emphasizing that it is open to everyone.

America's choice is nothing to do with worldwide Scouting.

(I didn't enjoy Guides at all but I did enjoy being a Cub in the UK and so I respect it hugely as an organisation where it's done well.)

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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
If the Boy Scouts are to continue being a relevant organization...
In my opinion, they lost their relevance years ago. The scouting program is a shadow of its former self. I look at my granddad's and dad's eagle scout awards and they mean something because they took honest effort and commitment to earn. Back then I would have been proud to have earned it, even put such an accomplishment on my resume. But when I was in scouting, none of the boys my age really earned their eagle. The award should have been given to the parents and leaders who did 95 percent of the work. 9/10 of the boys I know who received their eagle badge award did the absolute minimum required and avoided the "hard" merit badges when possible. If scouting ended tomorrow I wouldn't consider it a big loss. It would probably be replaced by something more relevant and specific to this century.
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BlackBlade
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As much as the reward has been diminished by merit badge mills, I think the activities and values that are hammered in by repetition are invaluable. I did scouting in Malaysia, and Hong Kong and so had both secular and religious sponsored troops. They were both wonderful. The scout leaders were busy men and women who took time out of their day to run the program. So many different backgrounds, but all of them dedicated to the ideals of scouting. My brother in-law is a scout master through our church and he does fantastic work. I think of what I gained personally in scouting and I want to share it with others. If that means the imperfect vehicle of BSA and I try to reform it while there that might be what I need to do. If we all abandon it there's nothing left to salvage, and a program with so much good work has to be completely remade.

[ July 31, 2012, 03:30 AM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Happy Camper
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Gosh Raymond. I'm an Eagle Scout too, and now I'm forced to consider if I should do what you've done, and if I have the guts to do it.

I very much want scouting to be a part of my son's upbringing.

Indeed. Scouts was a pretty big part of my childhood, and I'd have wanted any hypothetical son of mine to be a part of it too, but I just don't see that being in line with my moral compass right now.
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Speed
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Nice letter Raymond. Well done.

I think I'm going to return my Eagle Scout badge to the local Chik-fil-A, and send the BSA a half eaten chicken sandwich.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
I very much want a non-homophobic secular analogue to the scouts to be a part of my hypothetical son or daughter's upbringing...
It's funny, my own scouting experience as a boy and adolescent was actually quite secular, at least in comparison to what I later learned was much of scouting. We met at the local elementary school, rather than a church, and while we did pray, I think, we never went further than saying 'God' and I don't recall it being mandatory, though memory is hazy.

Our camp activities weren't religious, our service projects weren't, and our focus was pretty thoroughly on the outdoors and simply being good, helpful people. A lot of attention was paid to ordinary decencies that later turned out not to be so ordinary, like 'campsite cleaner than when we arrived' for example, rather than simply 'don't litter'.

It wasn't until quite a lot later when I heard scouting meetings being announced in church, with a nod to 'tell the others who aren't here' but with the knowledge that most of them were that I came to think it wasn't a very secular group after all, in spite of my own local experience. Our scout leaders were engineers and contractors and airmen, and if we had any clergy, I never knew about it. Perhaps quite odd when you consider my troop numbered in the dozens.

That was my experience as a scout as well.
This was my experience as well. I went through all the junior scouting stuff and dropped out after Tenderfoot, if I recall correctly, mostly because it wasn't particularly enjoyable, we didn't do enough outdoors stuff, but we never really had any of the religious stuff.

For that, I was in Awanas, which I also dropped out of when I hit my teen years.

Good on you Raymond.

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DDDaysh
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Being female, I obviously wasn't an Eagle Scout, but my son is a Cub Scout. I'm am VERY morally torn over this. I hate BSA's policy on this, it's the opposite of the inclusive attitude I want to teach my son. On the other hand, Cub Scouts has been absolutely wonderful for my son. I cannot imagine what taking him out of the program would do to him.

How can I teach him that this type of discrimination is wrong without denying him something that is so important in his life? I mean, he's 8! While he knows that homosexuality exists, it's far from having any true relevance to his life.

:-(

quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Gosh Raymond. I'm an Eagle Scout too, and now I'm forced to consider if I should do what you've done, and if I have the guts to do it.

I very much want scouting to be a part of my son's upbringing.


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lem
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quote:
my son is a Cub Scout. I'm am VERY morally torn over this. I hate BSA's policy on this, it's the opposite of the inclusive attitude I want to teach my son. On the other hand, Cub Scouts has been absolutely wonderful for my son. I cannot imagine what taking him out of the program would do to him.

How can I teach him that this type of discrimination is wrong without denying him something that is so important in his life? I mean, he's 8! While he knows that homosexuality exists, it's far from having any true relevance to his life.

My son just turned 8 and we live in a tight Mormon community. My wife and kids have been visiting family out of the country and they just came back today.

A few days ago I got a voice mail from the den mother (I think that is what they are called). It was a courtesy call to let me know what I needed to do to get my son ready to start scouts. I was surprised at the disgust the call caused me.

I have no nostalgia for scouts. I had a miserable experience and never made it to the arrow of light award. I recognized then and now that my bad experience was an anomaly caused by a hateful woman who started my scouting off by using the fact that I didn't have a dad to try and stop me from getting badges because I needed BOTH parents to sign off.

I do believe in many of the values of scouts and want my son to be a part of our community. My nightmare was caused by a woman who had issues other then me or scouts. I get that and don't hold the organization responsible.

However they are actively discriminating, and I don't want to endorse discrimination. My son is half Japanese and suddenly I am mindful of the internment camps of WWII. It is important to me to stand up when I can.

But...I really wouldn't be the one standing. It will be my son who misses out. He will miss out on friendships and positive experiences.

I am not equating the policy of a private organization with the internment camps of a world war, but it does sensitize me to the need to live my values.

I'm leaning toward letting him enjoy scouts, but I plan to read with him the policy and explain why it is wrong. Maybe if enough members accept homosexuality it will naturally evolve.

I am really interested in hearing what other parents'experiences and thoughts are.

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Raymond Arnold
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For the record, my position on having your kids enjoy scouting is:

Look in your area for an alternative to scouting (such as Camp Fire USA). I don't know if they're as good on average, but ultimately what matters is the quality of an individual troop, which depends on the organizers more than anything.

If such an organization doesn't exist, get to know your local Boy Scout troop, talk to them about the issues that concern you. If the leaders seem prone to discrimination, my personal choice would be to stay away, but I wouldn't begrudge those who didn't. It's a hard choice.

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Glenn Arnold
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My feeling on this is that the BSA program (even in it's current state) is an excellent program that any boy can benefit from, greatly, and I would encourage them to, if they can honestly say they meet the membership requirements. As has been pointed out, your local troop can be very different from the policies at the national level. And I think the Boy Scout program is worth saving, but I think it will only happen from the inside.

An addition to Raymond's comment about not being active in the scouts, so turning in his badge doesn't really impact him: Raymond and I aren't welcome in scouting, since we are both atheists. The timing of the scouts solidifying their position on atheism was at about the same time Raymond was finishing his Eagle. At the time, he was still somewhat unsettled in his religious beliefs, having been raised by a Catholic mother and an Atheist father, so he wasn't being dishonest when he completed the requirements for Eagle, but he was very cognizant that I was no longer welcomed at the professional (especially national) level of scouting. Since then, he's made up his mind as to his religious beleifs, and as I said, is no longer welcome. I can't know how much this affects Raymond emotionally, but I can say that it hurts me terribly. I struggled at the time with my own sense of honesty, and signed the DRP even though I knew that council would call me a liar if they found me out. I think I would still be involved in scouting if this hadn't become an issue.

But as I read some of the comments above, (and especially Dana's) I want to argue with you: If you're not gay, and if you believe in God, then the BSA will still accept you. Please join. By doing so you could make a difference.

I haven't heard of someone being kicked out merely for disagreeing with the policies (only in cases where the policy is *disobeyed*, and troops had notified council that they allowed gays or atheists to be members). And again, I believe the program is fantastic, and deserves to survive.

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Darth_Mauve
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Looking at some films from the 1950's I see scout-like groups being used as a US Nazi Youth program--creating "Real Americans" that the heroes of the movies have to stop.

It makes sense that if you take the best youth in the country, and those wanting to join scouts have been some of the best in the past, and indoctrinate them while they are in scouts, you could create a uniformed dangerous army.

But the BSA doesn't work like that, any more than the GSA promotes promiscuity or lesbianism, as was recently claimed.

Each level of the BSA is run either by the scouts themselves, or at younger ages, by the parents. While parents who become leaders are required to take training courses, the level of indoctrination feared is impossible.

Basically, it boils down to the individual leaders. If you get a @#$#$# like Lem mentions, then the problem isn't with the Scouts, its with that Den leader. My den leaders were mediocre, and I didn't stay past my Arrow of Lights. I did rejoin the Adventurers in High-school for a special project we put aboard the space shuttle, but that was only for 6 months or so.

My son has had a great experience with scouts, and is in his first year as a Boy Scout. My wife has had an issue or two with the leadership--internal politics--so she became a leader.

My wife is strongly pro-Gay Rights, but that hasn't stopped them from accepting her.

Basically, ones religion or lack there of, and ones view on homosexuality is something you should be helping your children with, not relying on outside organizations like the Boy Scouts. However, the Boy Scouts can teach many character skills to go with what you teach at home, such as hard work, patience, independence, and more.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
Basically, ones religion or lack there of, and ones view on homosexuality is something you should be helping your children with, not relying on outside organizations like the Boy Scouts. However, the Boy Scouts can teach many character skills to go with what you teach at home, such as hard work, patience, independence, and more.

This. I respect those that do not want to participate in scouting due to their difference in beliefs. During my time as a scout I never once heard anything about homosexuality, religion, politics, etc. There were some merit badges that had requirements such as writing a letter to a public official or learning about the way the government worked, but it never went into political beliefs.

The merit badges and activities I participated in helped me learn skills that a city boy like me probably wouldn't have learned otherwise. I learned how to make shelters, identify edible and poisonous plants, tie knots, navigate in the wilderness, horse riding, even how to weave a basket. Some of the skills I learned literally helped me save a life.

There are many organizations that have policies that I don't agree with, but still support. It is an individual choice. If I boycotted every company that has a policy I disagreed with though, I'd probably be living in one of the huge sewer pipes under Las Vegas right now. Well, unless I disagreed with a Water district policy. [Razz]

Is there another organization out there like the Boy Scouts that may not be as well known? It may be a good alternative if one does not want their kids to participate in scouting. I really feel the skills kids learn in scouting are worth learning.

I told one of my brothers when he went into Boy Scouts "Pay Attention, Boy Scouts will teach you all you need to know to survive a zombie apocalypse."

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
I told one of my brothers when he went into Boy Scouts "Pay Attention, Boy Scouts will teach you all you need to know to survive a zombie apocalypse."
I'm tempted to start a scouting organization that is explicitly branded as "Zombie Apocalypse Survival Training."

Not unlike this Penny-Arcade concept.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by lem:
quote:
my son is a Cub Scout. I'm am VERY morally torn over this. I hate BSA's policy on this, it's the opposite of the inclusive attitude I want to teach my son. On the other hand, Cub Scouts has been absolutely wonderful for my son. I cannot imagine what taking him out of the program would do to him.

How can I teach him that this type of discrimination is wrong without denying him something that is so important in his life? I mean, he's 8! While he knows that homosexuality exists, it's far from having any true relevance to his life.

My son just turned 8 and we live in a tight Mormon community. My wife and kids have been visiting family out of the country and they just came back today.

A few days ago I got a voice mail from the den mother (I think that is what they are called). It was a courtesy call to let me know what I needed to do to get my son ready to start scouts. I was surprised at the disgust the call caused me.

I have no nostalgia for scouts. I had a miserable experience and never made it to the arrow of light award. I recognized then and now that my bad experience was an anomaly caused by a hateful woman who started my scouting off by using the fact that I didn't have a dad to try and stop me from getting badges because I needed BOTH parents to sign off.

I do believe in many of the values of scouts and want my son to be a part of our community. My nightmare was caused by a woman who had issues other then me or scouts. I get that and don't hold the organization responsible.

However they are actively discriminating, and I don't want to endorse discrimination. My son is half Japanese and suddenly I am mindful of the internment camps of WWII. It is important to me to stand up when I can.

But...I really wouldn't be the one standing. It will be my son who misses out. He will miss out on friendships and positive experiences.

I am not equating the policy of a private organization with the internment camps of a world war, but it does sensitize me to the need to live my values.

I'm leaning toward letting him enjoy scouts, but I plan to read with him the policy and explain why it is wrong. Maybe if enough members accept homosexuality it will naturally evolve.

I am really interested in hearing what other parents'experiences and thoughts are.

This is really interesting to me, because while my scouts experience wasn't tinged with any homophobia (or religious overtones at all), that is not in any way to say that my scouts experience was good. It was a horrendous nightmare, due in large part to the other kids. I eventually quit, after a particularly humiliating and painful weekend camp thing.

I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other. [Smile]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other. [Smile]

I disagree. And I speak as one of the converted: my ex had to push REALLY hard to initially convince me to let our son sign up for Scouts.

IMO, the best way to find out what your local troop is like is to attend an event or two and SEE. Many troops have an annual "come take a look" event, usually in September. And I don't know any that won't let you attend one or two meetings to get a feel for it.

There is SO much variety, depending on troop leadership, which local council you are in, etc., etc.

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Rakeesh
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This comes from my own personal scouting experience, but a parent not being permitted to check out a meeting or three (though if they were to want to attend them regularly, they would've been invited to an adult role) would be surprising, and a distinct turn-off.
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rivka
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Definitely.

(I actually meant for the KID to try out a meeting or two, but I would expect the parent to be welcome as well. And would consider it a huge red flag if they were not.)

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MattP
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quote:
I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other.
Well, there's also the the religion thing. While many(most?) troops are DADT about it, you officially can't participate in the organization as a leader or youth if you don't believe in God.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other.
Well, there's also the the religion thing. While many(most?) troops are DADT about it, you officially can't participate in the organization as a leader or youth if you don't believe in God.
Really?

Weird. That also wasn't an issue when I was a scout. I was explicitly raised in a Buddhist household, and neither I nor my parents were shy about acknowledging it. It never came up one way or the other, that I can recall. I guess our troop was more than DADT about it, they were Don't Ask and We Don't Care if You Tell.

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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Is there another organization out there like the Boy Scouts that may not be as well known? It may be a good alternative if one does not want their kids to participate in scouting. I really feel the skills kids learn in scouting are worth learning.

Several. YMCA has a program that (I think) is currently called Y-Adventure Guides. (I did the female version when I was a kid for a few years. Pretty fun.) I've heard good things about Campfire USA. And depending on your state, there's probably a couple non-nationwide programs that will teach similar skills.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other.
Well, there's also the the religion thing. While many(most?) troops are DADT about it, you officially can't participate in the organization as a leader or youth if you don't believe in God.
Really?

Weird. That also wasn't an issue when I was a scout. I was explicitly raised in a Buddhist household, and neither I nor my parents were shy about acknowledging it. It never came up one way or the other, that I can recall. I guess our troop was more than DADT about it, they were Don't Ask and We Don't Care if You Tell.

I doubt the troop members could honestly have said whether they understood Buddhism to be a religion that doesn't specifically acknowledge the existence of a god.
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I think that letting your son know about all the things you don't like about the Scouts is a good idea. You should also let him know the reasons many people love being a scout. Then let him decide, and try not to pressure him one way or the other.
Well, there's also the the religion thing. While many(most?) troops are DADT about it, you officially can't participate in the organization as a leader or youth if you don't believe in God.
Really?

Weird. That also wasn't an issue when I was a scout. I was explicitly raised in a Buddhist household, and neither I nor my parents were shy about acknowledging it. It never came up one way or the other, that I can recall. I guess our troop was more than DADT about it, they were Don't Ask and We Don't Care if You Tell.

They've grown pretty wishy washy about non-theistic religions. They seem to be generally OK with "spiritual" but the national organization is unambiguous about atheists and agnostics. I don't recall much explicitly religious when I was in scouts and I did serve as a leader as an atheist adult, but the topic of my religion never came up. 'round these parts people just know that I'm "not LDS" and that's as far as it goes.

Still, the official policy is no religion, no Scouts.

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DDDaysh
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We live in a pretty rural area, there's no such thing as Camp Fire USA. Finding a Cub Scout pack was hard enough and it's not even actually in my town. I'm planning on having him join 4-H as well, but they are not completely analogous organizations. Besides, part of what he loves about Scouts are the friendships he's made. These aren't boys he goes to school with (driving out of town), so really dropping Scouts would essentially remove him from any sort of regular contact with him.

As for the leadership - I wouldn't say our leadership is at all discriminatory. That's what so strange about all of this. I mean, I'm sure there are some of our leaders who don't believe in allowing gay marriage. There are more than a dozen of them after all, it would be weird for them not to. But, honestly, I couldn't tell you which those were because it isn't something we regularly discuss at scouting (or leader) events since it has absolutely no bearing on anything related to the boys. That's what sort of threw all of us - why does the issue even need to be addressed? I agree that homosexuality has no place in Scouting - but that includes discriminating based on it! Heterosexuality has no place in Scouting either! These are, for the most part, children. Even once they get older and into their teen years, sex isn't exactly a topic that really needs to be covered!

The whole Scout program, and out pack especially, is so inclusive about almost everything else. Alot of boys who struggle other places really manage to come out of their shell in Scouts. We have kids with all sorts of disabilities, and most of the time you wouldn't even notice it. Our Pack is sponsored by an American Legion post, so it's not even associated with a church (though I suppose it is indirectly associated with DADT) - so I just don't get why we even have to think about the issue at all.

I guess that's part of why I'm so disgusted. It's just so completely unimportant to Scouting that I feel like taking a "stance" is doing nothing more than providing some random executives a way to pat themselves on the back for nothing!

quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
For the record, my position on having your kids enjoy scouting is:

Look in your area for an alternative to scouting (such as Camp Fire USA). I don't know if they're as good on average, but ultimately what matters is the quality of an individual troop, which depends on the organizers more than anything.

If such an organization doesn't exist, get to know your local Boy Scout troop, talk to them about the issues that concern you. If the leaders seem prone to discrimination, my personal choice would be to stay away, but I wouldn't begrudge those who didn't. It's a hard choice.


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Marek
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I loved the use of the scout law
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Anthonie
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Raymond Arnold, you just may be able to get that Eagle badge back!

From NBC: -boy-scouts-close-to-ending-ban-on-gay-members-leaders

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BlackBlade
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I'm not so sure. They are still affirming the ban on atheists.
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Orincoro
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It wouldn't really matter in the practical sense anyway. The LDS leadership has its financial claws dug deep into scouting- they sponsor thousands of troops. And the Mormons are about the last group of people in America I would expect to, as an organization, stop discriminating against gays, atheists, and really any other group that is not them and is not enfranchised enough to fight them. The only reason they haven't fully absorbed the scouts is because they haven't been able to- not because they don't want to.
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Rakeesh
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I don't know if I would go quite that far-much of the BSA's slow, inching crawl towards greater tolerance on religious and sexuality lines doesn't need anything so centralized and nefarious-it simply requires, as you say, large numbers of troops founded or substantially peopled by active, observant members of the LDS church. The numbers and perhaps more importantly the level of activity in wider activities within the BSA carry a weight all their own.
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Anthonie
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Yes, the LDS church will likely not change their policy towards gays in the troops sponsored by Mormons.

Still, the main reason BSA will change their policy is to maintain funding. Besides the acceleration of protests by local troops, corporate benefactors are bailing. In addition to several companies who quit giving in earlier years, in just the last half of 2012 some pretty big names pulled out.

INTEL (one of BSA's biggest corporate sponsors)
UPS
MERCK

I'm sure BSA realized the hemorrhaging would only get worse.

A little surreal, though, how abruptly the change is going down. Only last summer BSA reaffirmed their policy banning gays.

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Orincoro
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And it was (as they really ought to have expected), a public relations nightmare for them. As it should have been. It is an inexcusably backwards, indefensibly arbitrary policy. But as I say, they have a serious problem having the hackles of the LDS church so deep into their organizational structure. If they change this policy, they also risk the Mormons pulling their financial backing. Of course, this whole situation could have been avoided if they hadn't tailored their policies and public outlook to court Mormon investment in the first place. But that's mainly why I think this organization is now irredeemable- they are in bed with one of the great remaining deniers of equality.

Interestingly- the "Anti-Mormonism" entry on Wikipedia seems to be caretaken by Mormons. Zero reference to the words homosexuality and gay, and zero references to the words black, or African-American. Two of the more recently prominent areas of Anti-Mormon criticism.

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Parkour
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Does it not mention at all that the church has a long history of total racism and is very much so anti-gay? Those are two things the church is rightfully infamous for.
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Orincoro
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The article is written mainly from an LDS perspective on criticism- focusing on types and instances of opposition to LDS activities and organizations- never on specific criticisms of policy. The word "racism," never appears, nor the word "gay," nor "black," nor "race" (with the exception of its use in the sense of a political race).

It's pretty much Mormon propaganda. This is one thing you really need to be wary of with Wikipedia.

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BlackBlade
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I'm probably totally stepping in it, and let me preface things by saying I completely agree that Mormonism's banning of blacks from having the priesthood was racism.

But if one was discussing racism, Mormonism does not belong on the same page with the KKK, or White Supremacy in general.

The church loudly reversed course when directed to back in the 70s in regards to the priesthood. There is not some residual faction that thinks that revelation was a mistake. The church did not have a history of opposition to the civil rights movement, there was no segregation in the church, the church was also anti-slavery from its inception.

There are some interesting studies though on the presence of slave owning Mormons in Utah when it was founded, and accommodations the leadership made for those Mormons.

Long history of racism, I'll grant, because for over a hundred years they did not allow black people to hold the priesthood. But "long, total history" is an exaggeration, and it's not true.

As for the church having it's claws all up in Boys Scouts business. The church loves scouting, and rightfully so, it's a great program. I won't be surprised if the ban is lifted and the church simply continues to enforce policies for its own sponsored troops, without trying to make other group sponsored troops follow suit.

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