FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Boy Scout Bigotry

by JOHN LaFORGE

The camping and knot-tying club Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its discriminatory exclusion of about 10 percent of all boys — the gay ones — and of any out lesbians who volunteer as Cub Scout den mothers. The BS’s flagrant bigotry is rationalized and accepted, “unanimously” we are told, by its military-style leadership based in Irving, Texas.

BS policy, renewed in July, says, “… we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” Sorry boss, but discrimination, homophobic bias and the avalanche of negative press distract from the mission.

Today — after the U.S. military has ended its official policy of lying (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) which kept thousands of service members in permanent fear of outing and expulsion — a large group of Eagle Scouts are publicly disowning their awards and returning their medals in protest of the prejudice. If I could find mine, I’d happily add it to the pile of discards in Texas.

Ever since I accepted it from Minnesota’s Troop 22 in 1974, I’ve received an annual invitation to contribute to the Eagle Scout Banquet Fund. I reply to this request every year with an invitation of my own. I remind the BS that I will donate after first reading of a public renunciation of both the group’s official homophobia and its pious intolerance of non-religious free thinkers, and then only after I see in print a public apology to the GLBTQ and agnostic and atheist communities for Scouting’s long-standing discriminatory policies along with an new and open membership invitation to one and all.

While current and former Scouts have all promised to be “loyal,” as well as trustworthy, thrifty,  helpful, etc., the group’s directed embrace of discrimination, as Sam Stites wrote in Willamette Week, begs the question: Loyal to the Texas Chain of Command, or loyal to the protection of constitutionally protected civil and human rights? The BS Oath’s pledge to be “Obedient” says clearly: “A Scout … obeys the laws of his … country,” which today generally forbid discrimination.

While map reading and orienteering are two of the most interesting and challenging joys of scouting, the BS looks today like a Flat Earth Society claiming the sun revolves around us. While the country as a whole is embracing inclusion and respect of all people, BS executives in Texas have decided “to teach division and intolerance,” as Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said.

By its own definition of loyalty, the Oath says a Scout is “true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school and nation.” If this list is prioritized, it’s clear that Texas demands loyalty to its bizarre, archaic edicts before a Scout should think of his country or the law of the land. No. Scouts need to make a choice for fairness and inclusivity, even in the face of official BSA ignorance and paranoia.

The Oath says Scouts are to be Brave: “He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.” Reverent: “He respects the beliefs of others.” Kind: “He treats others as he wants to be treated.” Friendly: “A Scout is a friend to all. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.”

Until Texas gets it right, Scouts everywhere should follow their Oath and rebel. Every Scout in the country should refuse all further meetings, volunteer work, honors, contributions or fundraising until the commanders’ exclusionary bigotry is apologized for and made null and void.

John LaForge, a former Eagle Scout, is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin.


John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail