The headline on the current NBC News blog reads:
“‘Gravely distressed’: Religion looms large over Boy Scouts decision on gays.”
That decision is supposed to be announced in the middle of this week.
There is no real need to specify who is gravely distressed, everyone involved in the situation is stressed.
The churches who sponsor boy scout troops are distressed to imagine that the Boy Scouts will be forced to accept gay scouts and possibly even gay scout leaders. It’s pretty obvious why the religious groups would be distressed and, if gays are allowed in scouting, the religious organizations might be forced (by their membership) to stop sponsoring Boy Scout Troops or if not, they will certainly go into overtime praying to keep their kids on the “straight” and narrow.
That possibility plus the possibility that many parents of Boy Scouts may pull their kids out of scouting altogether and make a big “stink” in the press while they do it is certainly stressing out the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) leadership.
Then there are gay kids who just want to be Boy Scouts: go camping, have fun and learn all the skills that boy scouting teaches. They are distressed that the churches and the BSA are attempting to reinforce their status as “social outcasts” based on nothing more than an unreasoned fear of their sexual preferences.
The false assumption that underlies all this is that gay kids who go into scouting and gay scout leaders are predators and will try to molest and/or convert straight kids. It’s as simple as that! To say that will never happen in isolated instances is being as naive as those who think that all gay scouts will be happy and accepted and not be routinely taunted, bullied and brutalized by the good “Christian” scouts.
Many kids have been brought up (by their parents and by religious institutions) to be intolerant and have little respect for those who have different beliefs and values than they have. If this were not true school bullying would not be the epidemic that schools are being forced to spend time and money trying to control and many gay kids would still be alive. The churches that sponsor scout troops, even if they sincerely try, will not have a major impact on that unfortunate situation; but continuing to deny straight kids the option of normal socialization with gay kids not only exacerbates that situation, it reinforce myths, rumors and misleading religious teachings.
Maybe the BSA and the religious groups should look at this entire situation as a challenge rather that a distressing problem. If the leadership of the BSA is up to the challenge of developing better leaders, and if the pressure being put on BSA leaders by the church are minimized, it’s very possible that current boyscouts may learn to truly accept the fact that there are many different types of people and social beliefs in the world. Who knows, a boy who learns that, may well grow up to become a tolerant, open-minded individual with a better understanding of how life really works and how the world in general works. That type of person may no longer be welcomed into the strict, narrow-minded world of some religious organizations but, if they are not, it’s a win for society and a loss for those religions.
It is said that scouting builds character! The title of this blog entry is taken from a popular quote about character building by ‘Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe:’ “Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.”
In closing, let me emphasize that in America the BSA, as a private organization, will not be forced by the government to accept gay scouts — nor should they be. Scouting has been going on for many, many years without being all inclusive. Over the years, time, attitudes and public pressure have changed their outlook and methods. In the 1970s there was a Nudist Resort that sponsored small troops of boy and girl scouts. That would probably be unheard of in America in the 21st Century but times change and attitudes change — sometimes for the better.