“I want to do the Boy Scouts,” Zachary tells me.  He has been telling me this for quite some time now, although since the Scouts don’t start until first grade, he doesn’t actually know anyone in the Boy Scouts.

I give him my standard reply each time. “I’ll have to talk to Daddy about it.”    Usually, things like this are his choice.  If he wants to try an activity, we’re game as long as it works with the schedule.  But the Boy Scouts are different.

“Why?” he wants to know.

“Because the Boy Scouts are a discriminatory organization.  They don’t let gay people be Scout leaders.  Daddy I will have to talk about whether we are comfortable with you joining a group like that.”  He knows what I am talking about, because we’ve had this discussion before.

On the one hand, the Boy Scouts instill things like self-sufficiency, teamwork, and a love for nature.  Awesome.  We like self-sufficiency, teamwork, and nature.

Well, I love nature.   My husband loves s’mores.

On the other hand, the Boy Scouts is a discriminatory organization.

From what we’ve heard, individual dens or covens or whatever they call them may not subscribe to that philosophy.  The Boy Scouts are decentralized enough that the experience is really defined by the particular group to which a child belongs.

My husband and I tossed it around for awhile – like, for the last year – because we really would like our kids to have character-building experiences like scouting.

However, discrimination is not the kind of character we’d like them to build.

We just can’t stand tall and be paying dues to an organization that discriminates, no matter how much camping is involved.  We just can’t.  We can’t tell our kids discrimination is bad and then wink twice while driving them to scouting meetings.  We can’t look our gay friends in the face and tell them, “Our kids are in an organization that thinks you are too depraved for a leadership position.”

Zach’s friends might join the Scouts.  He might feel left out and resentful that we are not allowing him to be part of the group.

Parenting isn’t always about making our kids happy.

16 responses to “Scout

  1. Yeah. It sucks, doesn’t it?

  2. we wouldn’t have joined, either. luckily, our kids never asked. we dodged that one.

  3. k's grandma

    You might consider looking for a 4-H club in your area. Last I knew they were still OK. I know they have lots more urban options than the older rural model. And there is camping! And character building! And as much or as little nature as you want.

  4. I suppose you could look at it in another way, if he wants to join get involved with him, that way you have some influence over the group culture! When I wanted to join Girl Scouts my Mom signed me up…. I LASTED ONE YEAR (because of rotten local organization and a terrible leader).

    I get that you want to keep your kids away from a discriminatory organization…. but sadly they will encounter it everywhere they go. My Mom used to tell me that she couldn’t keep me away from discrimination, but what she could do was teach me how to respond to it. (I suppose I am pretty biased I have a bunch of family members who are either involved with scouts or went through them as children and they are wonderful people).

  5. vigorousanonymity

    For all the reasons you listed, we didn’t let our boy be involved. He only wanted to do it because other kids were doing it, but it just never felt like an organization we wanted to have contact with. He is none the worse for it, our boy. Sometimes you just have to intervene for a reason little ones can’t possibly understand.

    I haven’t been around in a while. How’s life in Jersey?

  6. It’s a tough, tough choice. I wish I could believe you could join and help change from within, but I don’t think the boy scouts is an organizations that is built for such change.

  7. It’s probably irrational of me, but I’ve steered my girl away from Girl Scouts because of the discriminatory nature of Boy Scouts. Besides, while I don’t mind buying the cookies, I don’t want to have to sell them door to door.

  8. When I was young, I was the “only one of my friends” who wasn’t a member of a particular pool club – a pool club that did not allow people of color. While I thought it highly unfair at the time, I stand tall now knowing I was not part of such a thing.

  9. I am sure that, once Zachary is old enough, he will make the same choice. Until then, as his parents you have to make it for him.

  10. defiantmuse

    I was a Girl Scout from 1st-7th grade…..The lesson that sticks out most in my mind is that they taught us how to make an oven to bake a cake out of bricks in the woods. Did you catch that? They taught us how to BAKE A CAKE in the woods. Because, you know, that really is a good skill for a girl. Why would we need to learn REAL survival skills? Um. Yeah. Although the skills the Boy Scouts teach are more on par with what I would want my children to learn I would steer way clear because of their discriminatory practices. Zach may resent it at the time but when he is older he will understand….I don’t think there is anything wrong with shielding them from these sort of organizations while we still have that control. I’m tired of people saying, “Well, it’s just how the world is and they will be exposed soon enough”…that seems like cop-out bullshit to me – WE are the parents here and it’s our RESPONSIBILITY to make the best choices we can for our children…..especially in these very formative years when they are shaping their view of the world and their place in it. Standing back and throwing up your hands seems so passively wrong.

  11. I second the suggestion that you look into 4-H.

    I also think it’s not ok to just say “Discrimination is everywhere, there’s nothing I can do about it!” because you CAN do something about it by refusing to take part in it and refusing to financially support an organization that engages in it.

    I’m just going to get all wound up about this and rehash stuff I’ve already said elsewhere so I’ll just stop now.


    I’m a fan of the Camp Fire Org. They took me on hikes and taught me how to build a hobo stove (using recycled cans, newspaper and wax) on which I cooked pancakes and eggs. myself. when I was 9. which was possibly the best thing that had ever happened to me in my life at that point.

    maybe there’s a group near you? but it isn’t SCOUTS, so he’ll probably hate the idea..

  13. You are maintaining y0ur integrity and living your beliefs. (good for you 🙂 He will understand when he is a little bit older, if not sooner and if he is that interested in camping and outdoorsy stuff then he will find other ways to express and enjoy it.

  14. Agreed, agreed, agreed!!!

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