Thursday, May 30, 2013

Two steps back

Somewhere in America, in a room off the main church, the following will never take place:
"Crisp opening, Scouts! Very patriotic. OK, Senior Patrol Leader, what is the Troop doing tonight?"

"Yes sir. Let's see … the new Scout patrol will meet to discuss 'What is homosexuality, anyway?' with David's dad. We were going to have Tommy's mom as guest speaker, but since she's one of the gays, we can't have her leading anything."

"That's being prepared. What else?"
"OK … the Bear Patrol needs to finish modifying its patrol flag to incorporate the rainbow colors … and the senior patrol will work on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge with an analysis of the Homosexual Agenda and how it will run the Troop. We'll play ultimate Frisbee and … that's about it."

"Great! Oh, one more thing, Scouts
. BSA has issued this new oversized bandanna. It kind of folds out … look how large this thing gets … you wear it under your hat, like so, and it drapes over your body. What's that, Tyler? Yes, yes, it does look kind of like a burqa, with the mesh eyeholes and everything. With the new membership policy, we can't be too careful that you gays in our Troop may want to jump these straight boys' bones. This — burqa, if you will — will cover you up and deliver the gay guys from temptation. Keeps away mosquitoes too! OK, Senior Patrol Leader, let's get started!"
Ridiculous, of course, but some critics imagined as much when last week directors of the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow boys who are gay to join Scouting. Adults who are gay are still barred from participating as leaders.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout, likened homosexuality to a fad and said, "For pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that has served millions of young men … that is just not appropriate.”

A fad. For as long as humanity.

Upset parents described how gays have forced their agenda on Scouts, as if Scouting is now about being gay and celebrating homosexuality. Some have said they'll leave Scouting; some others say they'll try to create a similar group that upholds Scouting values. The irony: Scouts opposed to the ban have been trying to do the same thing for years, while working with Scouting to change the membership policy.

As if being gay had anything to do with values, instead of being the way some people are born.

Scouting is about boys who want to go outdoors and cut things with knives and burn stuff. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Imagine if Scouting banned African Americans because they corrupted Scouting values. You'd laugh, but in Boy Scouts of America's early days, forces moved to do just such a thing.

W.D. Boyce, one of Scouting's founders, fought from the start to open Scouting to all despite race or creed. Of course, Scouting was right. It is right to lift this ban, too.

"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting," Boy Scouts of America announced in its decision last week.

What I don't understand is why Boy Scouts didn't lift the ban entirely. Half a decision is no decision at all.

Judging by the first-day news stories, foes of the ban are happy, if not satisfied, with the decision. It's a stutter step, an appeasement to those outraged at even suggesting a change. Once the bluster and recriminations have passed — once some churches cut ties with Scouting and Troops find other places to meet — once everyone remembers that Scouting is about cutting things with knives and burning stuff, and adults telling them not to — then Scouting will lift the ban for leaders too.

I read the BSA board decision differently: This gay thing? Son, it's just a phase you're going through. Once you turn 18, you'll return to your "values" or you'll be through with Scouting.

The irony remains: An organization that purports to nurture citizen leaders in a country working toward liberty and justice for all, can't also say, "Well, it's really liberty and justice for some."

I hope this is just a phase Scouting is going through.

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