Monday, July 23, 2012

The Failing Scouts of America

From the age of eight, until I was 18, I was intensely involved with the Boy Scouts of America. I faithfully committed to memory (and action) the Boy Scout Oath, Law, and Motto. For your reference, all three are listed below.

Scout Oath:
On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country; to obey the scout law, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law:
A Scout is: honest; trustworthy; loyal; helpful; friendly; courteous; kind; obedient; cheerful; thrifty; brave; clean; and reverent.

Scout Motto:
Be Prepared

As a young man (and still today), I truly made every effort to do my best to God and Country.  I challenged myself physically and mentally and made every effort to be as moral as possible.  Similarly, I attempted to be prepared for anyone and anything.

While I internalized the Scout Oath and Motto, I loved the Scout Law and it was my guiding force as a teenager.  Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better list of attributes for a person to cultivate.  I thought the list was perfect and I strove to live each adjective with gusto.

As I grew through the scouting program, I earned a lot of awards.  In fact, I am a tripled palmed Eagle Scout.  What does that mean? It means I was the nerd in your Boy Scout troop who literally ran from Merit Badge counselor to Merit Badge counselor at Scout Camp.  I was the young man who spent much of his summer breaks attending Scouting conventions and, without fail, I was the boy who spent every Tuesday evening at Scouts, never missing an activity or a camp out or a service project.

I received every award a Cub Scout could earn.

When I made it into the Boy Scouts at age 12, I made a similar goal.  I earned my Eagle Scout when I was 13 years old and, by my 18th birthday, I had garnered more than half of the 124 Merit Badges and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow.

Now, nearly 10 years later, as an alumnus of the organization that I loved, I am told that I am not welcome among them.  That I am not worthy of the awards I so dedicatedly pursued and that, in the future, if I have a son, I would not be welcome among his Scout Troop.

Some anonymous panel of 11 men (and maybe women) has decided that there is no place for gay men or boys in the BSA; that the “greater good and protection” of the boys and the organization is more important than building a community and culture of inclusion.

I am getting really sick and tired of hearing the same offensive trash over and over again.  I hate religious propaganda that claims that all gay men are pedophiles and that all gay youth are predators.  It is so offensive and hateful and it literally sickens me to my core.

The Scouting Program has failed me and America.  I do not agree with the organization’s decision to ban gay leaders but I am appalled that they are condemning and casting out their gay scouts. As a teenage suicide survivor, I can promise you that the Boy Scouts of America’s actions this week will do far more damage than any supposed good.

In an organization that claims loyalty, friendliness, helpfulness, courtesy, kindness, etc., I am shocked by the group’s blatant disregard for a substantial portion of their membership.  Furthermore, I am of the belief that they have failed their commitment to young men and that, apparently, they have lost their moral regard for what it means to be a Scout who follows the Oath, Law, and Motto.

I hope that the pretentious, ignorant council members who are hiding behind their shield of anonymity are ashamed of themselves. 

I, on the other hand, am putting my name behind my belief and I encourage Scouts everywhere to stand up and speak out.


  1. All I have to say is wow. That's crazy. I've been hearing about it but I hadn't had this much info, or even thought about it via the perspective of those kids being kicked out. That is going to be so hard on them. How terrible.

  2. Things like this make me so sad. I'm amazed that people can be so closed-hearted, so numb.

  3. This is an atrocity! Thanks for addressing the issue, MJ:)

  4. Thank you so much for the post, and as a fellow Scout, how impressive that you got your Eagle by 13! I didn't care much for my experience in Scouts, however, for a variety of reasons. Their decision to ban gays is still disappointing for me though. I know a lot of gay men and boys who live up to the Scout Law better than a lot of straight males in the organization. I hope to see the day when BSA is truly "mentally awake" and realizes the hypocritical decision they're making.

  5. I'm especially passionate about this because the BSA was another avenue group that I gave my whole teenage life to and now they are throwing me and others like me away. It breaks my heart.