Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scouting for All

Years ago, I watched a great documentary on the first days of a group called "Scouting for All," which was a reaction to the Boy Scouts of America. I grew up going to Cub Scouts, and went into Civil Air Patrol, missing the politics of the Boy Scouts of America for the politics of being a junior airman.

The Boy Scouts, which always seemed like an honorable and noble group of young men (and yes, we're all aware of the coming out stories among Scouts), embraced a faith perspective that was largely based upon a Jewish-Christian world view that excludes atheists and agnostics, let alone other faith traditions. And it wasn't until years later that it became obvious that the group did not welcome out or self-identified gays, bisexuals, and transgendered youth. While there are many Scouts who I have met later in life who were in the closet when in the Scouts, it is obvious that they too played the "don't ask, don't tell" politics of the Church and American military service.

Thus the power of the film: this was one of those films that simply reminded me, "Oh, yeah: that's another group that practices discrimination, like the some churches!"

I was reminded of this movie and movement when reading, and the Dallas Morning News, in which the Governor of Texas, Mr. Rick Perry, has, with another author, penned a book on the virtues of the Boy Scouts of America, which he construes is caught in the culture wars of modern American society. Click here for the article. Perry basically blames the ACLU and other groups for drawing our attention to the internal politics of the Boy Scouts of America, which they have done.

And, thankfully, we are a nation with many choices: we can go the way of the Boy Scouts of America, or Scouting for All. We are also a nation that is constantly changing, and some of those changes are an improvement: maybe one day there will be a scouting program truly for all who wish to participate.

Aware of the number of LGBT youth who commit suicide because they do not feel they belong in either their families, among friendship circles in school, in communities of faith, and not even necessarily civic groups like the Boy Scouts of America, I shake my head in dismay for all the ways our young people are excluded and shunned in this world. Through groups like GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) and other groups concerned about the youth of America, we can make a change for the better.

It is time to make a change as a nation, as a church, in other communities of faith, and in scouting programs.

Peace, Brett

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