I live in a community that is one of the most liberal in the U.S. Almost 72% of my county voted for Obama in 2008. Our very liberal Representative (Van Hollen) received 74% of the vote in our district. Our neighboring district voted for the maybe-even-more liberal Donna Edwards by 71%. Gay marriage is probably supported by a similar percentage, and the gay parents of children in our school are never subjected to ugly comments or bad treatment. And when it comes to religion, our family with its weekly Sunday and Hebrew school attendance is probably more the exception than the rule.
So what's my problem?
The complacency that's led so many otherwise liberal and tolerant parents in our school to accept the homophobia and religious intolerance of the Boy Scouts national organization; to promote the Boy Scouts without being open about the national organization's discrimination.
Let me first be clear on what I'm asking: while I would never put a child of mine in any offshoot of an openly bigoted organization, I do understand that the parents of children in the boy scouts feel the experience is important and worthwhile; the local troops/pack leaders will, on request, send you a wonderful statement of their inclusiveness. The parents of local boy scouts, when asked, will tell you that they don't agree with the national policy.
But they don't come clean about the organization when they recruit. They send out emails on our public school's PTA listserv extolling the virtues of boyscouting, telling how it builds character -- in a recent recruitment email, the author said:
The purpose of cub scouting is: "To provide boys an activity that helps build moral strength and character, develop fitness, and train in the responsibilities of active citizenship."
but somehow, some way, they neglect to mention in all these boy scout recruitment and support emails that the national organization, to which these troops/packs pay dues, has abhorrent, ugly and unacceptable official policies:
● Youth and Adult Volunteers
Boy Scouts of America believes that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. Accordingly, youth members and adult volunteer leaders of Boy Scouts of America obligate themselves to do their duty to God and be reverent as embodied in the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Leaders also must subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle. Because of its views concerning the duty to God, Boy Scouts of America believes that an atheist or agnostic is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys. Because of Scouting’s methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders.
For more than 20 years, the Boy Scouts of America has defended its membership standards. We went to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, in order to do so. The Boy Scouts of America, as a private organization, must have the right to establish its own standards of membership if it is to continue to instill the values of the Scout Oath and Law in boys. Thanks to our legal victories, our standards of membership have been sustained.
We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law.
According to wikipedia (seems to have been removed from Boy Scout website):
In 2004, the BSA adopted a new policy statement, including the following as a "Youth Leadership" policy:
"Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."
What I am asking of our local PTA listserv, what I am asking of DailyKos members who are BSA supporters, is that you include a statement with every recruitment, with every communication praising your troop/pack; a statement that reads something like:
While the Boy Scouts of America has official policies against athiest, agnostic and/or gay leaders and scouts, our troop stands for inclusiveness and is on record as opposing those discriminatory policies.
My husband and I have sent a request for this kind of statement to the president of the PTA. He's a decent guy, but I think he would love to run as far as he could from this issue. I'm hoping he'll give us at least some support, and the very liberal, very open, very tolerant, very accepting, very hip boy scout parents in our community will accept responsibility for their actions and make a public statement condemning the BSA discrimination when they communicate with other parents.