Does my son have to quit the Boy Scouts?

By Susan Brenna


Salon Staff
July 11, 2000 11:56PM (UTC)

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Susan Brenna's article debating whether to pull her son from the Boy Scouts because of their anti-gay stance may be one of the more absurd examples of p.c. posturing that I've seen in recent years. That a mother would consider breaking her nine-year-old son's heart simply to protest a policy which he certainly does not condone, or even understand, is ludicrous. It is roughly on par with evangelical Christians who home school their children in an effort to eliminate any mention of evolution from the curriculum. I find it horribly selfish and inconsiderate of Brenna that she would even consider using her son as a political chip in the self-righteous game she wishes to play.

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-- Robert M. Youngman

Once again, Salon has managed to find the most self-absorbed soccer mom out there to give us the opinion from the peanut gallery. Obviously, we may think the Scouts' policy is asinine, but it is their policy to make, not ours to make for them. The argument put forth by the plaintiff -- that the Scouts are a public accommodation because they often meet in public buildings -- is a smokescreen at best, a veil to hide the real agenda of the lawsuit, which was to use the courts to force social change. Fortunately for the Constitution, the court saw through that argument and made the only possible decision: the Boy Scouts, a private organization, have the right to accept or refuse any member for any reason, no matter how benighted. Liberals in particular should celebrate this ruling as a historic affirmation of the most solemn purpose of the Bill of Rights -- to protect the civil rights of a minority, any minority, from the tyranny of the majority.

I'm disappointed that Salon chooses to play up that majority's opinion rather than highlighting how the most basic principles of human rights were upheld in this case. Even the ACLU knows that organizations such as the KKK have as much right to freedom of speech and association as the rest of us. Are they really that much smarter than the editors of Salon?

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-- Stacy McMahon

I am an Eagle Scout and support the Boy Scouts in their stand to decide who is qualified to be a Scout leader. I ask this simple question: How would you feel about your daughters going on trips with adult males? If that makes you uncomfortable for no other reason than that you want to protect your child to the best of your ability, then I ask what the difference is. This issue is not about homophobia, but rather about a parent's right and an organization's right to make decisions they feel are in the best interests of the children.

-- Larry Goldsticker

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No! Don't leave the Scouts. It's folks like you and your family who may one day change things for the better. You can explain to your son (although it will not be easy) that you feel differently about this issue than the national leadership. You may, in fact, find that your local leadership does too. Visit www.scoutingforall.org for some information about movements to change the scouts.

-- Sharon Stanfill

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I am a Cub Scoutmaster in New York City, and a lifelong Girl Scout. My first grader son is a fourth-generation Scout (both sides of the family, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts). My grandmother was a friend of Lord and Lady Baden Powell, the founders of Scouting.

With great sadness but determination, we are resigning from Boy Scouts of America. Despite all of the benefits that Scouting provides for both the youth and adults involved, we cannot stand with an organization that defines its moral message in bigotry. The Boy Scouts of America's strident and now legally-won right to discriminate flies in the face of the values of good citizenship. Not only does it violate the local anti-discrimination laws of the school in which our pack meets, it violates international human rights norms and standards. As a parent, these are not "morally straight" and "clean" values I wish my son to learn. I am left with the haunting analogy of the Hitler Youth.

This is not the lesson I thought my son would learn this year when he proudly earned his Bobcat badge. But more than reciting an oath and the Law of the Pack, it is a lesson in life.

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-- Tara Krause

Surely I'm not the only one who has noticed that the Boy Scouts victory with the Supreme Court and its new "don't ask, don't tell" policy directly contradict what the Boy Scout Handbook says.

The fourth part of the Scout Law says "A scout is friendly." And the official Scout Handbook explains that statement as follows: "Every person is an individual with his or her own ideas and ways of doing things. To be a real friend you must accept other people as they are, show interest in them, and respect their differences. Accept who you are, too. You don't have to be just like everyone else. Real friends will respect the beliefs, interests, and skills that make you unique." (Boy Scout Handbook, Tenth Edition, p. 555).

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I'm curious to see how the Boy Scouts will reconcile their own teaching with their rabid fight to exclude gay Americans from their organization. Apparently, real friends will accept people as they are and respect their differences, but the Boy Scouts sure won't.

-- Scott Miller


Salon Staff

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