Identifying Leadership

There we were with dozens of hundreds of Cub Scouts. At least a hundred of them were Wolves. Like my little guys. When they put on the uniform, they start to blend into the sea of navy blue. They put on their hats. Good luck.

From the back, I can only distinguish two of our Wolf cubs. My boy and his best friend. Tornado A has his head nearly shaved. His best friend has the long 1970’s boy hair cut. Everyone else has similar cuts and lengths.

At lunch, we had sat on a field, on of the few large open spaces of grass. Within twenty minutes, the boys were done and chasing each other. First my den, then the others started joining in. Then slowly my parents started moving out of the field to the wall. I, in my stubbornness decided to stay put. Until even I decided I chose life over pride.

So I stood watching 50 or more Cub Scouts running around.

Me: Hey, guys, what do you say if next year I get a can of washable hair dye and just spray their heads so we can pick them out?

A mom: Like yellow or florescent orange?

The parents all looked at me.

Me: (glancing around at all the parents and back on the field where more boys had joined the chaos) Yeah. Or we can color coordinate. Bears are light blue.

A dad: We could give it a shot.

The other parents murmured in agreement.

I’m a hell of a leader.

Open Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

I just heard you were considering lifting the ban on keeping gay leaders and boys out of Boy Scouts.  Congratulations.  Admitting there is a problem is the first step.  The second is healing.

Just tp assure you that I know who you are, I was a Girl Scout for eight years.  I worked in the organization for two.  My brothers were both Boy Scouts.  My parents were very involved in their troop.  My baby brother made Eagle Scout.  My eldest son is working on his Wolf Badge.  My middle son wants to join as soon as he’s old enough.  I’m sure my third son will follow his brothers’ footsteps.  So I have a vested stake in your organization.  I believe in a lot of things you do.  Except the bigotry.  I think it is my responsibility to discuss sexual orientation and religious beliefs with my children, and those beliefs and personal understanding has nothing to do with you.

Personally, I think you’re a little confused.  I’m sure when you came up with the ban you thought you were protecting boys.  You were keeping them from being indoctrinated into the gay lifestyle.  I don’t know about you.  But there was never an older boy who took me aside and indoctrinated me into the heterosexual lifestyle.  I assure you my father would have taken care of that boy.  Nor did I chose the heterosexual lifestyle.  It is just part of who I am. 

Now that we established that none of us “chose” to be the sexual lifestyles we are, we can discuss what else you were trying to protect those boys from.  You were trying to protect them from sexual predators.  You were afraid that some gay older boy of 17 will make sexual advances on some young, impressionable boy of 14.  Let’s work on that scenario.  What if it was some straight older boy of 17 who decides to make sexual advances on some young, impressionable little sister of another scout on a camping trip?  What would you do?  How would you feel?  If you’re not outraged and disgusted, then we have a much bigger problem here.  The correct answer is you deal with the boy who is making unwanted advances with strict discipline and a call to the police.  What if it was a young leader of 22 making sexual advances of a sixteen-year-old sister of another scout?  Again, the feeling should be disgust and outrage, and the action should be a strict disciplinary action and a call to the police..  What if a female adult leader or a mother makes sexual contact with one of the boys?  Again the feeling should be disgust and outrage, and the action should be strict disciplinary action and a call to the police.  Sexual predators are about taking advantage of their authority, their power, to thrust themselves on someone weaker.  It’s not about gay or straight.  It’s about power.  If you ban gays, you let the monsters who claim heterosexuality just waltz in.  If you  need an example, Jerry Sandusky.

There is your practical answer for the conservatives.  The new policy should be about protecting boys from predators.  “There should be no inappropriate touching, sexual advances, or relationships.”  Have your lawyers work it out.

But if we want to talk about the emotional impact, let’s think of the Boy Scout, who has just come to terms he is gay.  This boy must feel very alone and scared and worried.  What will his parents think?  What will his family think?  What will his friends think?  What about his leader and troop?  You are telling him to lie if he wants to stay in the Boy Scouts.  You’re telling him not to be morally straight, not to be honest with himself or others.  You’re asking him to go against his oath that you have made him swear at every Boy Scout function.  You’re telling him not to be brave, like it says in your laws.

What do you teach all the other boys in your organization?  They shouldn’t be loyal to their gay friends.  They shouldn’t be kind, friendly, or courteous to gay people.  They shouldn’t be brave, helpful, or trustworthy towards gay people.  That’s the problem with bigotry, it undermines all the good in the world.

So Boy Scouts of America, are you going to live up to your oath and law?