Tommy was a Boy Scout

msnbc host Thomas Roberts (right) competes in the Pine Wood Derby. Scouts make and design race cars to compete against each other.
msnbc host Thomas Roberts (right) competes in the Pine Wood Derby. Scouts make and design race cars to compete against each other.
Photo provided by Thomas Roberts

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” - Boy Scout Pledge

Yep, I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout in the 1980s. And I have the pictures to prove it.

I even came in second in the Pine Wood Derby one year. My Mom still has the wooden car.

My mother, Michelle, was the chairperson of Troop 750, which was sponsored by Church of the Immaculate Conception, a Roman Catholic parish in Towson, Md.

I asked her today to remind me why she was the chairperson. “I was it because they couldn’t find a man to take the job,” she said. “I led committee meetings and all decisions were made by our committee.”

The scandal! A straight woman in charge of Troop 750! Actually, nobody cared. It was a loving parent doing what loving parents do: lead by example.

I was involved with Troop 750 for a couple of years and then I quit. I just wasn’t that interested. (Sorry, Mom.)

Now, fast forward to where we are today. The Boy Scouts, after a long review, will lift the ban on gay scouts.

“Following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history, the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place.”

The new policy will take effect on January 1st, 2014. At that point Boy Scouts–who might be gay and might be out–won’t be booted from the 103-year-old organization for being honest about their sexual identity. However, when they turn 18 they are no longer “morally straight” enough to be involved, says the BSA–even though the organization is now cool with gay scouts.

Are you as confused as I am about this?

As a BSA alumnus, I applaud this move to desexualize young boys. Their adolescent sexuality should not matter. Why not offer that same inclusive spirit to adults? The BSA apparently didn’t worry about my Mom, a heterosexual woman, having access to young boys when she chaired my troop. They didn’t assume she was a sexual predator. So why make that assumption about anyone else?

Grow up, BSA! And welcome to the 21st Century.