OPINION – I was a girl scout. I sold the cookies, attended the meetings and loved wearing my uniform. Now, I am a mom and have two boys that are actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America program. I love what they learn as they earn each merit badge and I love what the BSA promotes and teaches.
I was taught to love all people. I was taught that we include everyone and that we focus on the things that unite us, not divide us.
The recent announcement by the BSA that they are re-examining and possibly changing their policy to allow openly-gay scouts into the program has me in a bit of a quandary. For over 100 years, 110 million scouts have benefited from the BSA program. This is a program that works; this is not an organization struggling to reinvent itself because the masses are protesting inequality and absurd teachings.
Sexual identity really has had nothing to do with scouting. To my knowledge, there has never been a merit badge devoted to sexual identity or sexual education presented or taught to the boys through their leaders. In fact, the BSA does not currently grant membership to “openly gay” homosexuals, but a private same sex attraction is just that – private.
And there is a difference.
Sexual preference is one thing, but being “openly gay” seems to catapult sexual preference into becoming a lifestyle, an agenda, a movement and a way of life. Hyperfocusing on one attribute means that other attributes get overlooked. I am Mormon. Am I “openly Mormon” or “openly heterosexual”? No. I do not define myself by just one part of who I am. I do not evangelize everywhere I go. I am not looking to be embraced and tolerated by everyone for my religious beliefs. I just believe what I believe and it’s private. When I join organizations outside of my religion, I do not derive my self-esteem from their acceptance of what I believe or my sexual preference.
The BSA motto includes these words: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the scout law and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
These are boys we are talking about, not men, who on the average join scouting at the age of 9 and leave scouting by the time they usually turn about 16. Shouldn’t boys, heterosexual or homosexual, all strive to be morally straight? Do we automatically assume that homosexuals are sexually promiscuous and lack morality? The BSA is not promoting hatred or homophobia against anyone, it is only enforcing a morality code of keeping oneself morally clean. If 13-year-old boys across the nation, straight or gay, are having a tough time adhering to that part of the motto, maybe we have a bigger problem than tolerance.
As for openly-gay scout leaders professing their attitude of acceptance to young boys, sex should never be a discussion that they have with their scouts. Ever. It is inappropriate, just as I do not want a promiscuous male heterosexual glamorizing or justifying his sexual conquests either.
The Girl Scouts organization has been touted recently as the champion of progressive thinking on gay rights; but, in fact, it lays out very strict guidelines for what can be discussed about that subject and what is not appropriate. The BSA can accept everyone, yet also lay out the same strict guidelines.
In America, can you run a private organization as you wish? Will the BSA cave to atheists as well, altering their motto and creed so that God isn’t mentioned? Where does it end? Freedom of association means that we can join organizations that support like-minded ideals and when they don’t, we are free to start a new organization or not join at all.
Private organizations should not be compelled to comply as the result of bullying from small organizations or groups who seek to advance their own agenda of forced tolerance.
I am not a fan of bullying.
The groups lobbying for support of this change for the BSA are well below even 2 percent of the almost 3 million scouts at this time. Private companies and organizations in America are just that – private. If what the BSA taught wasn’t popular with the masses, then people wouldn’t be joining the organization in droves.
Also, by removing the national policy, the BSA is handing the responsibility to local chapters to “duke it out” in communities across America. Local chapters will have to defend, quite possibly in a court room, their own version of the BSA guidelines. This isn’t fair to the local chapters. It would fracture the national strength of this organization.
Right after the Superbowl last weekend, President Obama, in an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley said, “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities, the same as everyone else does, in every institution and walk of life.”
Millions of boys have loved the scouting program and, if you do the math, a very tiny portion of them probably did consider themselves gay at any given time in our history.
Did the fact that the BSA did not accept openly gay scouts and leaders impact the earning of their merit badges? Has the program violated their self-esteem because it did not constantly address their sexual identity and force everyone around them to acknowledge and accept their sexual preferences? Did the BSA teach hatred and inequality in all of their meetings or teach people to be homophobic? The answer to each of these questions is no.
Sexual preference just simply is not the focus in a scouting program. The scouts are just trying to earn merit badges and build character, not politicize an agenda.
Because you do not embrace something does not mean you automatically hate something. Diverting the focus of scouting to hyperfocus on sexual preference does not translate to developing more love for mankind, more equality or inclusiveness. The earning of many diverse merit badges teaches our young boys to be well-rounded and develop many skills and talents. In over 100 years, the BSA has never had to include sexual preference to determine that a boy could conquer the world and become his best self. Maybe boys that are homosexual can embrace the message that being homosexual isn’t the most important thing about them.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
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