All boys are equal but some are more equal than others says the Scouts new policy

946
SPOT Jersey Pride SD 5

commentary:

After a decade of agonizing, soul searching and fierce debate, The Boy Scouts of America have come at last to a decision regarding gays and scouting. It was not a decision lightly arrived at. Experts were consulted at length. An expensive canvass of all persons presently involved with the movement was conducted and tabulated. Psychologists and child welfare experts were called upon for testimony.

Meanwhile, outside the walls, crowds chanted that if gays were accepted, God would visit terrible wrath upon America. Others loudly affirmed equality for all God’s children. After all of that and in the time honored tradition of bureaucratic organizations since the dawn of city building cultures, a decision was arrived at that outraged all parties. It is a decision that essentially paraphrases the famous slogan from “Animal Farm;” All boys are equal but some are more equal than others.

Gay youth are now allowed to be scouts (as long as they are celibate – uh huh – sure – that’s gonna work) but the instant they turn 18, it’s ‘out the door and don’t come within a mile of a scout camp!’

It seems the Boy Scout authorities have discovered our terrible secret: at midnight on our 18th birthday a delegation of old queens in sequin robes and ostrich plumes calls upon us with sprigs of wolfsbane, wave them under our noses and chant selections from Broadway shows. This of course produces a magical transformation in which we become predatory monsters of ravening sexual appetites. The young scout may well have been a very model of all the time honored virtues scouting espouses, may have obeyed the scout law in every possible way, earned the Eagle, done a good deed every hour on the hour and helped veritable regiments of little old ladies across the street. All of that mattered a great deal up to the fateful hour, but, when the clock struck twelve and the dreadful transformation took place, it all became ancient history for now, in the eyes of the BSA, the boy had become a man – a gay man.

Gay men are not allowed to participate in scouting. It doesn’t matter if they earned the Eagle and have led a blameless and honorable life… oh wait…  they can’t be honorable, moral and responsible…  they’re gay. That at least is the clear message the new policy sends.

It wasn’t always like this. When I earned my own eagle, back around 1960, there was no specific policy regarding gay youth. We were expected to be low key about such things and get on with the program. So what happened since then? I didn’t change. The kids didn’t change but what did change was the national management. In a nutshell, national leadership was captured by fundamentalist Christians who moved the headquarters from New Jersey to Texas – a state where medieval religion still has a big constituency.

The issue came to a head with the case of James Dale, an Eagle Scout who had become an assistant scoutmaster and who was revealed as gay when ,as a student at Rutgers University, he took a leadership role in the LGBT student organization. Dale was unceremoniously kicked out of scouting, sued, won in the New Jersey Supreme court but lost in the federal Supreme Court.

Along with over 500 other eagle scouts and former eagle scouts, I sent my own eagle back to the national office along with a letter informing them that I now considered it a disgrace to have an award from an organization that teaches homophobia and bigotry.

In a recent guest column in the Trenton Times (www.nj.com/times-opinion/index.ssf/2013/05/opinion_boy_scouts_decision_to.html ) I quoted Miss Coco Peru, saying “am I bitter? Absolutley!”

I’m not bitter for myself. I am way past sleeping in tents and cooking on an open fire. These days, my idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service. I am however, very bitter on behalf of those gay kids that will at last be allowed into scouting, that will display all those virtues and skills, that will believe the message of brotherhood scouting teaches, only to be told at last “sorry, you grew up. You became a possible monster. We can’t trust you anymore, Go sniff your wolfsbane. Just go away.”

There will be a lot of pain and tears and all because the moral cowards who now run the scouts lacked the courage to do what they knew to be right. They tried to please everyone and they have pleased no one.

Toby Grace Editor Emeritus of Out In Jersey magazineToby Grace is Editor Emeritus of Out In Jersey magazine.

 

commentary:

After a decade of agonizing, soul searching and fierce debate, The Boy Scouts of America have come at last to a decision regarding gays and scouting. It was not a decision lightly arrived at. Experts were consulted at length. An expensive canvass of all persons presently involved with the movement was conducted and tabulated. Psychologists and child welfare experts were called upon for testimony.