Robert M. Gates, the President of the Boy Scouts of America said it at the National Annual Meeting on Thursday: the ban on gay adult Scout leaders is “unsustainable”. (If you want to watch the membership policy part of his speech, skip ahead to 8:41.)
In the last post on here, I explained that I’ve been managing the Facebook page for Twin Cities Scout Shops. I’ve been responsible for almost all of the content there, so after reading about this yesterday, I was planning to go in to work and ask Sally, the store manager, if I should post a link to a website on the page. Make it objective and informative, don’t try to put any spin on it, just “Here’s what happened.” Then I checked my email.
One of the first messages had the subject heading, Note to cease social media activities immediately. “Hmmm, this might be relevant to what I was going to ask Sally…”
BSA social media channel managers,
As a result of today’s announcement from Dr. Gates, please cease all activity on your social media channels immediately and for the next 24 hours (instruct any of your other page admins to cease activity, as well). Do not post additional content during this time. Please reschedule or delete any content that you have pre-scheduled for delivery over your channels during this time.
Given my rebellious nature, I posted something on Facebook anyway. Sure, it may have just been “We’re closed on Monday because of Memorial Day, have a great weekend”, but it was still rebellious, dammit!
But the fact that I wasn’t allowed to write about it at all on my work Facebook page means I feel free to address it as much as I’d like on my blog. I don’t plan on being overly abusive or stomping on anyone’s toes too hard, so please don’t fire me, Boy Scouts! I still love you!
And that’s been part of my issue the last few years. I was happy when the BSA decided to lift their ban on gay Scouts. I think it’s a good organization that can have a strong, positive impact on kids for their entire lives. It was disappointing that they didn’t include gay leaders in their decision, but I was happy with any kind of progress.
Meanwhile, some people were returning their Eagle certificates, swearing they’d never wear their Scout shirts again, decrying the organization for making such a poor decision. No one ever said anything to my face, but I still felt it personally. I’ve been a part of Scouting for most of my life: I started as a Wolf Scout when I was 8, went all the way through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, then became an Assistant Scoutmaster when I turned 18. I’ve maintained that position for the last twenty years, so it’s been an important part of my life for decades now.
No, I wasn’t happy about the ban against gay leaders—I know plenty of gay men and women who would be good leaders and excellent role models for kids—but that didn’t mean I was going to cast all those years of Scouting off to the side.
Suppose someone is a staunch Republican, holds that title with pride, votes a straight-party ticket every election, etc. But that person’s beliefs might not align completely with the party’s. Maybe he thinks that there should be limits to gun rights or women should have more rights over their bodies or whatever. Does that single issue make the person not a Republican? No. Similarly, I don’t agree with the ban against gay leaders, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think the BSA is a positive organization that does a lot of good and I’m not going to abandon it. Now there’s a possibility that it might not be an issue for very long.
The biggest concern right now might not be the members; it might be religious institutions. Scout troops and Cub packs have chartering partners, many of which are churches in various areas. Those churches may object to gay leaders. If they decide to decry the Boy Scouts, those troops and packs could fold. To them, I would ask to apply the same analogy as above. You may not like a policy change, but liking it and accepting it can be two different things. Ban gay leaders in your own troops? Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean it should be an organizational standard.
So I’ll be following this issue carefully. I’m hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, which is… who knows? I’m hoping that the Boy Scouts will step up, choose their own fate and make it a good choice. Make it the right choice. If they don’t… I still love you, don’t fire me!