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An Open Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

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Dear Boy Scouts of America:

I was a Cub Scout and Webelos Scout.  I met most of my childhood friends through you.  I was even a camp counselor for several years.  I was a Cubmaster as well.

I also suffered my first instance of hazing and emotional abuse at the hands of a scoutmaster.  He was straight, by the way.  They thought it'd be cool to take a bunch of kids on a night hike and make it like a haunted trail... including pretending that patrol leaders had been murdered and that we were being shot at.

As a leader, I (and the other leaders) were actively inclusive.  We didn't give a damn what religion, disability, color, sexuality, or any other label someone had.  It didn't matter if the label was one someone else put on them or a label they chose themselves.

It didn't matter.  They were kids.  They were people.  And they all deserved our best, and we demanded it of them.  The video on bicycle safety that they made is the top hit on YouTube for "scout bicycle safety", with 10x as many views as the next hit down.

And it didn't matter what labels any of those kids carried.  They were kids.  They were Scouts.  And that was all that mattered.

Worrying about any of those labels - instead of things like "work together" and "learn things" and "do your best" - was a waste of the kids' time.  Allowing hazing - whether about what sleeping bag a kid had, or what TV show they liked, and so on - is not in the Scouting spirit.

Except in America.

On Tuesday, the BSA announced that it was formally upholding its policy of discriminating against LGBTQQ people.  tl;dr of the excuses for the decision:  "It's hard to talk about people who are different that we are".


Seriously.  The BSA's chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said that banning openly gay people was acceptable because "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting."

Bullshit.  It's not even a good excuse.  You don't have to talk about it.  Here's how you deal with it:

"Discrimination isn't okay.  Sexual behavior at camp isn't okay1.  Now go earn a merit badge."

It's not hard.  But the BSA just wants a good excuse to be discriminatory douchebags.  Want to know if something is discriminatory?  Substitute terms for different groups.  For example:
 
The BSA's chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said that banning openly Baptist people was acceptable because "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of religion within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting."

The BSA's chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said that banning openly mixed-race people was acceptable because "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of racial relations within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting."

Can you even imagine the uproar?

So, fine.  The BSA has decided to choose the abusive, bigoted road exemplified by the abusive Scoutmaster I had as a teenager.  You've made your choice.  Repeatedly.

Stop taking federal support.  No more tax dollars.  No more being a part of CFC campaigns.  No more cheap access to public and federal lands.  Be the private, bigoted organization you've repeatedly proven yourself to be.

I will not support discriminatory bigoted organizations, whether they be the KKK or the BSA.





1 I know this is true - I got in trouble when a female teenage den leader from another unit and I flirted at Scout camp.

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