27 July 2015

The Boy Scouts Are Getting There....

As of today, the Boy Scouts of America has lifted its ban on openly gay Scoutmasters, other adult leaders and employees.  This comes a little more than two years after the ban on gay Boy Scouts was ended.

However, BSA will still allow Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout dens chartered by religious organizations to exclude gay adults from serving as leaders or camp counselors.

This change is important and necessary for a number of reasons.  One is that in certain areas, such as small towns and the countryside of the Midwest and South, the local Boy Scout troop or Cub Scout den is one of the few places besides school where boys can meet other boys their own age.  And, in many communities, especially the inner cities, Scoutmasters and other adult leaders are among the few adult male role models many boys have.

Study after study has shown that isolation kills.  The last thing kids who might feel isolated and alienated need is to be further isolated and alienated through exclusion from one of the few social outlets available to them.

Moreover, the old stereotypes about gay boys are dying.  They're not all effeminate and they don't all lack interest in sports or outdoor activities.  And they will probably strive for the same sorts of careers and (mostly middle-class lives) their straight peers want.   So, they need the same sorts of adult role models.  What could be better for a gay kid if that adult is also gay?

Finally, as a former Boy Scout, I can attest that there are a surprising number of ways boys of all kinds can express their talents and pursue interests.  For example, I earned merit badges in reading, writing,scholarship (basically for keeping up a B average) and photography.  Unless things have changed dramatically, there are a number of other merit badges in areas that most people wouldn't associate with Scouting.  

And, finally, there were community service requirements, if I remember correctly, for advancing from one rank to another.  There's certainly not a lack of interest in such things among gay kids--or adults.  

So the Boy Scouts of America is getting it right, I think.  Notice that I said "getting":  It's still a process.  Next....transgender scouts.  If the Girl Scouts can allow trans girls, why can't the Boy Scouts allow trans boys?

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