As the father of two Boy Scouts, I’ve been following this one with great interest: A movement is afoot to pressure the Boy Scouts of America into abandoning its anti-gay policy. I say it’s time to drop this stupid ban.
In this discussion I see a lot of the same comments:
- Having gays sharing tents with straight kids would have a damaging effect on both parties.
- Gay kids lack the moral fiber to be good Scouts.
- Gays would erode moral.
We’ve seen these same arguments made in recent decades over gays in the military. In 2013, gays are serving in the military, and doing so with distinction. The bunking arrangements have been worked out, and ours remains one of the finest fighting forces on Earth. The things that worked for the military could be applied to the Scouts.
For me, though, the reason to let gays in is much bigger than those issues.
Being Scouts has made a huge difference for my sons. They’re learning survival skills that will carry them through life; skills that would have served me well in my younger years had I not been so stubbornly opposed to joining. They’re learning how to be law-abiding citizens who contribute to society.
As Scouts, Duncan and Sean have gotten to see the inner workings of their local police and fire departments and had a taste of of our region’s special place in history with trips to the Charlestown Naval Yard and Battleship Cove, where they spent a night camping in the bunks aboard the USS Massachusetts.
These experiences should be open to all kids, gay or straight.
My opinion is also influenced by the fact that I have several family members who are gay. They work their asses off, pay their taxes and work jobs that have benefited the greater good. They have been there for family. Their only crime, according to some seriously outdated thinking, is that their hormones and sexual orientation developed differently than those of the rest of us. Some people still foolishly believe that a person wakes up one morning and decides this is going to be their lifestyle choice. They’re forced to conceal their true nature to fit in with society, and the results are often damaging. People I love have been driven to severe depression, substance abuse and worse because they weren’t allowed to be true to themselves.
My attitude: An organization like the Boy Scouts is there to help people build moral and mental character. That opportunity should be open to everyone.
If such an organization can help us become better citizens, why on Earth would be want to exclude anyone?
I say all this as a Catholic who prays to God every day and who didn’t have to be gay to fall into a life of sin. I fight my demons daily and get my strength from my faith. Some think that’s strange. But then some think being gay is strange. I know many of my faith won’t share my position here. Some may even unfriend me on Facebook over it. So be it.
Homosexuals are not going anywhere. They’ve been part of humanity since the dawn of time. It’s time we started giving them a fair shake.
I hear the Scouts have considered leaving the question of gay membership up to local councils and the institutions that host packs and troops. That’s as unworkable as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in the military. It’s also cowardly.
We’re more than a decade into the 21st Century. Let’s start acting like it.
Drop the ban nation-wide.