Being married to an Eagle Scout is a wonderful thing. My husband can make fire in minutes and build a shelter for two with a rock, some dried leaves and an armful of sticks! And he'll even recite the Boy Scout oath for people...without being prompted.
That is scouting at its best. It grooms young men to be good citizens and leaders. So you can imagine my excitement this past Monday when the Boy Scouts of America announced they may do away with their sexual orientation restriction...sort of.
Which is why my letter this week is to Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock.
Dear Wayne,It's me, Melissa.When I read the first part of Monday's statement, I jumped for joy. "Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation..."I was like, yes Wayne! Getting rid of this discriminatory barrier would finally allow those of us who love the Boy Scout to full support its work. It would ensure equality for future members and leaders interested in the great things the Boy Scouts have to offer.And then, I read on."The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."Come on, Wayne. That's one weak endorsement for policy change. Instead of taking a firm stand with an umbrella policy, you want to leave the decision to the discretion of your 290 local governing councils and the 116 thousand religious and civic groups that sponsor scouting?Clearly the year long campaign to change the policy that garnered 1.2 million online signatures was enough to make you say you might do something, but not fully commit to it.Wayne, the Boy Scouts of America website affirms: "Scouting is truly a melting pot. Scouts come from all walks of life, all types of family units, faiths, and racial and ethnic groups. The BSA respects the rights of people and groups who hold values that differ from those encompassed in the Scout Oath and Law, and aims to allow youth to live and learn as children and enjoy Scouting without immersing them in the politics of the day."Yes, Wayne, that's the spirit I am asking you affirm! All boys deserve the right to pursue the goals of becoming Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. For that to happen, the Boy Scouts must affirmatively welcome gay men and boys. Time for you to follow the example of pioneers like Dr. Michael Cahn who, in 1991, led the first troop to openly resist your anti-gay policies.Or maybe follow the lead of those other scouts, Girl Scouts, who have always been all-inclusive, leaving the issue of sexual orientation to girls and their families.That Wayne, is leadership. So instead of punting the ball at next week's meeting where a final policy decision will be made Wayne, you may want to take a firmer stand. Time to live up to your oath. Generations of boys and their future life partners are counting on you.Sincerely, Melissa.