Caution: Scouting May be Harmful

Dear Christopher

Today I read in the newspaper that former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was confirmed president of the Boy Scouts of America. Well I hope he changes the horrible policy that prevents gay leaders of Boy Scout troops. I am reminded of the Seattle troop whose leader, Geoff McGrath, was essentially fired by the national Geoff McGrathorganization because he is openly gay. He was interviewed on NPR. I could hear the sadness in his voice. He said while he did not hide his sexual orientation he did not have an “agenda” as the Boy Scout National organization alleged. He just saw a need in his church, Rainer Beach United Methodist, to serve the youth of the area. His pastor is staunchly behind him and refuses to remove him. Here is a man with great mentoring skills. He has a Masters degree in social work and was an Eagle Scout himself. Yet the Boy Scouts want to remove him. That would be a great loss, which the pastor recognizes. Luckily the troop will continue but without the familiar uniforms and guidebooks.

When you were young you joined the Cub Scouts. I remember hosting as den mother in our home. I was not very successful in this role. The activity I planned fell short, and the boys, a bunch of 8 year-olds including you, ended up just running around our house. However, I thought it was a good experience for you to be in Scouts. There were badges to work on which you seemed to enjoy more than the sports that Mark always liked. Then you and Dad went on a camping trip with other boys and dads, which you seemed to enjoy. Maybe that is where you gained your love of camping.

my two momsIn the book My Two Moms, Zach Wahls commends his Boy Scout experience. He credits it with shaping his values. In fact he uses the instructions of the Boy Scout Handbook as the spine of his book. Here is someone from a gay family who today might feel excluded by the homophobic publicity generated around the firing of Geoff McGrath.

I think your son Jordan would love to be a Boy Scout. He does not like team athletics and the Boy Scouts activities seem more individual and suited to his interests. But how could he be part of an organization that demeans his parents? On the other hand Isabella could join the Girl Scouts if there were a troop close to your home. The Girl Scouts policy is inclusive, which has led to their being the target of rabid right wing groups.

Recently an Eagle Scout from Maryland, Pascal Tessier, has begun a petition to protest Amazon giving money to the Boy Scouts. Pascal is the first openly gay Eagle Scout. He is 17 but he worries that when he is 18 he will be cast out, just as the scout leader in Seattle.

It is shameful that such an organization, which has a rich history of helping boys grow and become men, has such a bigoted rule. It angers me that you and Patrick and other gay people have to listen to such swill from people who should know better.
I hope Robert Gates brings some change to this organization. His book on his experience in the Obama White House was openly critical of the president’s leadership. Well, I hope he has the guts to bring some enlightened leadership to an organization that is denigrating fine men.

Love, Mom

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