Friday, August 20, 2010

Boy Scouts and why the Morrey boys won't be joining

Patrick came home from school one day early last week wearing a sticker that said something like Join Cub Scouts!  Meeting on Wednesday.  "Please Mama, can I be in Cub Scouts?" he asked me when I got to the daycare to pick him up.

I knew this would come up with him this year.  He has two close friends who are joining Cub Scouts and I knew that he would hear about it.

"No, I'm sorry, you can't.  I do have a reason, and I'll explain why when we get into the car."  Cue whining, but thankfully it's a very short walk to the car.

"Why?  Why can't I be in Cub Scouts?"

And I explained that the Boy Scouts have a policy of not allowing gay people to be leaders of packs (this link has several different stories--the one about Scouting is the second one).  I think I said specifically Boy Scouts don't let men be leaders of a Boy Scout troop if they love another man instead of women.  I said that I don't want to give money to an organization that thinks that who you love is more important than being a good person who wants to get involved.  I explained that I don't want to support a group that doesn't treat people equally just because of that. 

Patrick, to give him huge amounts of credit for maturity at 6 years old, thought it was a stupid policy also and did not ask again.  In fact, when his friend asked if he was going to be in Boy Scouts, he simply said no.  He didn't whine.  He didn't think it was unfair.  He recognized that homophobia isn't something that we can support and was perfectly OK with it.  I could not have been prouder of my boy.

I know a huge number of families who have their sons in Boy Scouts.  That's their decision.  I personally won't knowingly support a homophobic organization.  That means that I still love your family, I still love your children, but I won't be buying popcorn from you even though I'll buy Girl Scout cookies from your daughters.  If we have a daughter someday, she can certainly join Girl Scouts (if you read the above article it summarizes the differences in the Boy Scout and Girl Scout policies with regards to the sexual orientation and religious views of leaders).

I'm sad that the boys won't be able to be in Boy Scouts.  Jason was a Scout for a long time and I know he loved it--he talks very fondly about their camping trips and other activities.  I was a Girl Scout for a long time and it was great.  I know the boys would really enjoy it, but I can't condone homophobia.


docgrumbles said...

I admire you for setting such a great example for your sons. I am also impressed with P for clearly listening to your reasons and understanding your decision. This is the only way to initiate any change. Ignoring the homophobia would do nothing to educate the next generation about what is right and fair.

Sara said...

I feel the same way and have for years even though my boys won't be asking to join (maybe) for another few years.

Anonymous said...

Our family's experience with Scouting has been very positive. Scouting plays out in the local church basement or school cafeteria, not in the boardrooms in Dallas. We have watched our son grow in skills and confidence as he has progressed through the Scouting program from Cubs to becoming an Eagle Scout. He has had had experiences that simply would not have been available outside of Scouting. It is a very meaningful part of his life.

We have found that our son's unit has been remarkedly inclusive ranging from boys in high honors programs to boys struggling with serious disabilities. The group has been very accepting and supportive of of all boys. The issues that concern you simply do not play out at the local level in most cases. You would find a significant number of Scouting families who value inclusiveness.

I would caution you not to believe everything you read or hear in the media. I would also caution you not to allow your own biases to automatically dismiss an organization without taking time to actually view it first hand. Prejudice can take several forms, can't it?

Anonymous said...

Read this article for another view from an initially reluctant parent who shares your values.

Rayna said...

I was part of Cub Scouts for many years. I was Tony's Den Mother for most of Cub Scouts, we didn't finish our last year or so because I was finishing up grad school. At first, I was not aware of the regulations on homosexuals not being allowed to be leaders. In our pack, we had several boys from nontraditional families. Maybe they were accepting because they were women partners and not men. They were always welcome and not treated differently. Their families, both partners, were welcome to all events held by our pack from meetings to camp outs. My first year I had 20 boys and just me. As leaders we asked several of the parents to step up and volunteer to become leaders, including the moms that were homosexual. Interestingly enough, they turned us down because of the rules. Our pack leadership said we would still support her if she decided to volunteer as a leader. They didn't think it was the National Organization's business who we chose as leaders. In the end, she still turned us down, but the boys were part of our pack even after I left. I guess I should feel lucky that I was part of a group that was openminded and accepting. Maybe if more groups were like that, they can pave the way to change the organizations' viewpoints.

Wendy said...

Good for you. But now I'm feeling terribly guilty that my son is a scout. Hoping my kids will be the ones to change the organization from the inside out (or even better - it doens't take that long!!!)