Boy Scout Troop 4 in South Tampa (where I live) is the oldest troop in the area. The troop has 67 Boy Scouts and 82 Cub Scouts, and for the past 60 years it has met at Trinity Presbyterian Church. But after the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy to now allow openly gay boys to be Scouts, the homophobic church pulled its sponsorship of the troop and told these boys to get out by Jan. 1, when the new policy goes into effect. A really Christian move, right? (I am, of course, still really pissed that the Scouts won't allow openly gay adults leaders, but that's another story for another diary.)
But the good news is that after word got out in the area about Trinity Presbyterian Church's homophobic actions, eight other local churches stepped up to offer to sponsor the troop and provide it with a new home. Wow. The boys are apparently really excited about the new home that they ended up choosing, which has a game room and a movie room.
And I think the whole experience is teaching a valuable lesson about the negative consequences of hatred, discrimination and homophobia to the younger generation. Just look at the comments from one of the boys in Troop 4:
Garrett Brooks, 9, joined Troop 4 in first grade and said he is "very glad" for the Scouts' policy change because he has gay friends.Another sad consequence of Trinity Presbyterian Church's eviction of Troop 4 is that the troop met in what sounds like a very cool Scout Hut, which the troop built in 1963 in the old church parking lot:
"I feel like (the church members) have their own idea about gay people, but I believe they should be allowed to do anything anybody else can do," Garrett said.
The boys sat on wooden benches while planning camping trips and Eagle Service projects in the block structure lined with knotty pine walls and ceilings, like generations before them.What boy wouldn't love meeting in a place like that? But now, the boys have to dismantle the Scout Hut, piece by piece. They don't have the money to build a new Scout Hut, but they have created a website, friendsof4.com, to raise the funds. You can see some pictures of the Scout Hut there, and show them a little love if you're so inclined.
Animal skulls and bottles holding dead snakes hang on walls mixed in with the Scouts' oath, law and motto and plaques listing former Scouts.
I'll end by just saying how classy Troop 4 is being in the face of being treated so badly by Trinity Presbyterian Church. They're not speaking ill of Trinity, at least not in public, and clearly are staying focused on what's best for the kids, as stated on the friendsof4 website:
It is with a sad heart that we are leaving the Troop 4 Scout Hut that has seen many generations of families come through its doors. Although it will be gone at the end of December, it will not be forgotten. While the Troop 4 Scout Hut has 50 years at its current location, it is not the location that has made Troop 4 what it is today. It is a community of scouts, parents, adult leaders, and friends that have given Troop 4 the rich history that makes us a stand-out troop.And speaking of history, I have one last thing to say to the folks at Trinity Presbyterian Church: You are on the wrong side of history. 50 years from now, Troop 4 will still be enjoying its great home at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, and you'll still be trying to explain, and apologize for, your discriminatory actions to a new generation that will be even more mystified and angry about your actions than the current generation.