As an Eagle Scout, I have mixed feelings about Boy Scouts of America. I have fond memories of spending time outdoors in scouts. I also feel that scouting has done a lot of positive things for me. It seems unlikely without the exposure to the outdoors and nature I had in scouts I would’ve ended up where I am today. My experiences today, hiking, camping, climbing, caving, back packing even international travel, all have roots in my time with scouts.
That said, the horribly conservative views of Boy Scouts of America often horrify and anger me. I’ve signed many petitions to let homosexual boys into boy scouts. With loose ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and other religious and social conservative organizations, it’s not surprising how conservative scouts can be.
I was thrilled when a couple of days ago I heard an announcement on NPR that boy scouts is now allowing trans-gender scouts into their ranks. However, I don’t think it goes far enough. Many scouting organizations the world over include boys and girls into one cohesive organization. Girl Scouts of America is not part of the same international organization as BSA. I think scouts has incredible potential to instill virtues of tolerance, social and environmental justice and compassion. Scouts can’t be the compassionate organization I believe it could be while maintaining exclusivity. Putting boys in one organization to do one thing and girls in another to do another activity gives the wrong idea to kids.
Beyond gender and sexual orientation, scouts is largely made up of religious people and a belief in god is a key prerequisite to being a scout (a prerequisite I no longer have). I personally think scouts needs to focus on civic and environmental responsibility and forget about it’s heritage of homophobia, racism, sexism and other discrimination. Scouts was born of a different age but now it must decide it’s future destiny; it’s a decision it will live or die by.