15 Mar

Boys Scouts are part of America’s history. The battle is against this institution not being preserved as designed.

Senator Portmans change of heart on gays, with his own son coming out, is being flagged as a score for groups seeking to change history as the groups want it rewritten. It is possible to love your child and still have a political stance. Unconditional love is what a parent gives a child. It is ideally what a child gives their parent, too, especially in a country that was built on individuality and Freedom of Choice. Even the Boy Scouts desire to stand true to the hundred plus year old history.

Financial heavyweight Miscrosoft founder Bill Gates, a former Boy Scouter, weighed in on the ban of gays in Boy Scouts of America stating the Boy Scouts of America should lift their ban on gays. The words at core to the issue are “morally straight” in a world that sees “gay” and “straight” as adjectives describing youths lifestyle choices. Faith sites hosting Boy Scouts activities are being challenged too. 70% of Boy Scouts chapters are hosted by churches and synagogues and such. There have always been gays in Boy Scouts just as in the military. Soldiers soldiered on until special interests interfered as were there always gays in Boy Scouts being about kids being kids. The battle really isn’t about Gays in Boy Scouts. The battle, as with the military, is a challenge against Faith in America.
What is the theme resonating in the politics of life these days, is removing others rights for all for the rights of one, predilection, that is. Why should the Boy Scouts change now? Why are basic tenents of Free Markets being explored- if you don’t like something, do out and do it better. Or, in the case of Mr. Gates, put his money where his mouth his- innovate and create a youth organization of his own creation but why challenge Boy Scouts, their Freedom of Speech- and the Boy Scouts Freedom to ‘be.’ Scout Law, which says Scouts are to keep themselves “morally straight.”

The HRC, the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lobbying group, is pressuring people and pro-family institutions to accept their preferred lifestyle as normal. The HRC says such a change is not good enough.

The matter should rest on Freedom of Choice- the choice not to join, too.
Lifting the ban on homosexuality, would betray millions who have participated in the organization since its founding in 1908 and would betray the moral values inherent in the Scout Law and Oath, and it would be a slap in the face to the churches, religious organizations and local volunteers who sponsor and fund the vast majority of Scout troops. Was it Winston Churchill or Groucho Marx who said why would I want to belong to a club who wanted me as a member. Question re-asked should be why would I want to belong to a club who didn’t want me as a member. Why would I not want to start my own club they will want to join. Let them join? Maybe. Clubs and organizations are never a one size fits all.

This adage seems to be pushed aside in today’s agenda driven America.
The 100 year old Boy Scout Organization found itself pressured. In 2000, the Boy Scout Organization was pressured to lift their ban on gay Boy Scouts. A survey was conducted amongst members and alumni. Scouting parents felt sexual orientation is a family conversation between parent and child that should not be an issue leaders should discuss with their Scouts. Scout Councils didn’t answer when parents asked why rock the Boy Scout values boat now.

A mother of a 16-year-old scout in Bethesda, Maryland, chose to speak out on the issue with her checkbook. She wrote her local scout council telling them she would limit her donation to Friends of Scouting to $50 although she was prepared to quadruple that donation as soon as the ban on gays is lifted. The United Way of Greater Cleveland spoke with their checkbook, too. The mission of United Way is to “improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.” The United Way of Greater Cleveland said the Ban on Gays conflicted “with the organization’s diversity and inclusion policy.” Dividing a 100 year old organization is not advancing the common good, though.

Boy Scouts began as a social experiment for good, for bettering the lives of boys by teaching them about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism, and chivalry through inventive games the boys enjoyed during that once upon a time when kids could be kids. The year was 1907. Baden-Powell, famous for his 217-day defense of Mafeking in the South African War, wrote “Aids to Scouting”, a military field manual he wrote in 1899 for British soldiers. Boys loved the learning to track and observe. Baden-Powell decided to write a nonmilitary field manual for boys, adding in lessons on morality and good deeds.

The American version of the Boy Scouts, incorporated February 8, 1910, began London 1909. Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost. A Boy Scout emerged through the fog and helped the gentleman. Boyce offered him money for having led Boyce to his destination. The boy refused stating that one does not get paid for a good deed. Boyce was appreciative and impressed. Boyce went on to organize chapters of the Boy Scouts- the Woodcraft Indians and Sons of Daniel Boone. Four years before the first international Boy Scout Jamboree was held in London, Baden-Powell organized the Cub Scouts. The year was 1916. Baden-Powell set up a central Boys Scout office. There were over 60K Boy Scouts by 1908. In 1910, Baden-Powell organized the Girl Guides as a separate organization. The first national Boy Scout meeting was held at the Crystal Palace in London, in September 1909. 10K Boy Scouts showed up. And the movement continued to grow. Until now.

Options on the table should include staying open or shutting down a 100 year old organization acknowledging one helluva run.

If a Boy Scout knows the District, in a heartbeat, they will find the way to “THEIR” monument, sitting south of the White House on the way towards Constitution Avenue. Three figures- a Boy Scout, a woman and a man- stand tall. The monument, constructed with funds raised from Scout units, contains within its base, a scroll signed by each donor. No government funds were used. Then why the interference in a private club.

Some question the influence of Scouting on American society. Boy Scouts was a Social Experiment born of Character & Courage. Motto? TRUST . BELIEVE & DISCLOSE. Trust, for the Boy Scouts, has been a lesson over time. Who not to trust is a lesson being learned instantly these days. Boy Scouts of America operates traditional Scouting by chartering local organizations. Volunteers are appointed by chartering organizations. The scouting organization implements its chapters within churches, clubs, civic associations, or educational organization. A leader should fill out a questionnaire. If there isn’t a moral and value match between Scout Leader and troop, the next step should be moving forward not descending in to litigations to force change. The lose will be epic.

If Freedom of Religious Expression is what is under the political microscope then should it not be a Boy Scouts Freedom Of Choice to be in a troop that reflects their values? A troop of gay youth? Or a troop of heterosexual youth? Or a troop of both. Dismantling the organization is a serious contender for solution, to let the organization ride on the laurels of its 100 year plus celebrated history. Another option is to provide a survey that answers a prospective member’s and volunteer leaders and paid staff, asking loyalty to a tradition that has flourished for over 100 years.

Historic buildings are petitioned for preservation under the Historic Register, needed to be preserved as survived since created, then why not too, the Boy Scouts. “The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.” The District of Columbia has a historic preservation board. “The Historic Preservation Office promotes stewardship of the District of Columbia’s historic and cultural resources through planning, protection, and public education. HPO is part of the Office of Planning and serves as the staff for the Historic Preservation Review Board and Mayor’s Agent for historic preservation.” The “HPO also implements federal historic preservation programs as the State Historic Preservation Office for the District of Columbia.”

They preserve houses, don’t they. Why not Boy Scouts? After all, a house is not a home. And Boy Scouts of America is where the hearth where 100 years of youth are homed….


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