I’ve been a Scout and Scouter most of my life. 39 years this year, in fact.
I’ve watched Scouting evolve from an organization that was about making boys into moral, competent men, into an organization that seemingly will stop at nothing to chase numbers.
From the abortive attempt to take the movement co-ed in my teen years — when the uniforms suddenly started sporting “Scouting USA” emblems rather than the familiar “Boy Scouts of America” tags (which came back pretty fast when it became apparent that the Girl Scouts took a dim view of the BSA poaching their gender) — to the varied crises of dealing with urban Scouting, youth protection, loss of interest when boys reached the “girls and gasoline” age, and a general societal shunning based on the fact that Scouting actually expected its adherents to cling to what was considered an outdated moral code — yeah, I’ve seen it all.
And now, the smart boys and girls in Irving have determined that it’s OK for transgender children to join packs and troops.
Leaving aside the question, “WTF is a transgender child, and how in hell does a child decide what gender it’s going to be,” this is absolute and utter insanity.
I have held my peace and gone along with changes that included allowing female leaders (in Boy Scouts; women have long been Den Mothers, or now, I suppose “Leaders”, in Cubs), gay Scouts, and finally gay leaders — the latter two regardless of the dictates of the Scout Oath and Law. I have watched religious organizations, formerly the backbone of the BSA’s chartered partners, walk away from the program because it no longer reflected their principles. I have watched troops that were formerly powerhouses become ghosts of their former selves.
And I have watched the general public, which used to approve heartily of the Boy Scouts, turn on it like a ravening pack of wolves, snarling that the movement is bigoted and outdated and shouldn’t be allowed to corrupt our youth.
This new wrinkle, though — I can’t go on pretending that these continued surrenders to public opinion on the part of the National Council don’t do violence to my concept of what Scouting is supposed to be about. If you’re going to let everyone in, fine, let everyone in, quit pretending that the organization is any more than an activity like after-school sports, and just drop the whole moral and ethical framework that underpins the whole thing.
And be prepared, as it were, to lose people like me, who have made Scouting a part of their lives. Because it won’t be Scouting anymore.
I have not been an active Scouter in a long time, but I’ve remained registered against the time that I might decide to become active again. I’ve actually been working with a group that’s trying to start a STEM-oriented Venture crew (with little or no help from the local council, I might add, but in my long experience with the council, that’s not really much of a surprise). But I’ve really stayed registered to keep my OA registration current, since I’m a Vigil member, and if I drop my BSA membership, that’s it for OA. Doesn’t really matter, I guess, in the grand scheme of things.
All that goes down the hole at the end of the year. If I’d known about this idiot move by National a few days earlier, I wouldn’t have bothered to re-up for 2017. I already stopped giving money to the annual fundraisers several years ago when they decided it was OK to let gay leaders in. And you can say what you like about that, but I’ll just refer you to the Oath and Law as I did above. Either we have standards or we don’t. And either we live up to those standards, or there’s no sense in pretending that we have them.
To paraphrase a certain former Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America: I didn’t leave Scouting. Scouting left me.
I guess I’ll be sitting on this log over here talking to Baden-Powell about the good old days.
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