"The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law."
- Boy Scouts of America Vision Statement
When I pictured myself a mother, it was very easy to conjure an image of myself costumed like Shelly Long in Troop Beverly Hills. The status of being "Den Mother" has always appealed to me. It implies a woman who can hang with the guys. Raise responsible, strapping sons. Know the difference between poison ivy and ... other plants that are not poison ivy. If I had a boy, I decided long ago, I wanted in on the cub scout scene. Those cute little khakis, randomly earned sewn-on patches, learning how to start a fire with wet sticks; I was into it. I already taught my kids how to pinky swear and everything.
My oldest son is Cub Scout age. The local troop meets at the church down the street. And yet, it is with utter disappointment that I announce I will not sign him up. Why? According to Wikipedia, "The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists and agnostics from membership in its Scouting program, and prohibit "avowed" homosexual people from leadership roles in its Scouting program as directly violating its fundamental principles and tenets. BSA has denied or revoked membership status or leadership positions of youths and adults for violation of these foundational principles."
Oh Man. Here I am, "Den Mother" fantasy in tow, blindsided by the bigoted reality of what I thought was a quintessential American right for little boys. After all, their vision statement says "every eligible youth." It doesn't say, "every eligible youth who promises not to grow up to be gay." How can I, as a responsible parent, enroll my child in a organization that publically dismisses our friends, our neighbors, Elton John. An organization that may, one day, publically dismiss him. Forget it. Me and my husband, and our two little sons (who haven't told us yet who they plan to date) will not be supporting the Boy Scouts of America.
I had planned to be a den mother with my friend, Deborah. She has sons. But, turns out I can't because Deborah has a wife. I guess we'll just have to take our boys on our own camping trip. Deborah makes her own chocolate, so the S'mores will be outstanding and while we're telling incredibly scary ghost stories about organizations who perpetuate hatred, we will hand out our own patch called the "We Don't Discriminate Against Entire Groups of People" Patch.
The Boy Scouts' website says, "character development should extend into every aspect of a boy's life." I couldn't agree more. I hope to develop my sons' characters into tolerant men. That is my "oath." Pinky Swear.
PS - This blog was inspired by David Sims, a Boy Scout official who resigned yesterday after Den Mother, Jennifer Tyrrell was removed from her post for being gay. http://www.coshoctontribune.com/article/20120502/NEWS01/205020309