I had an interesting conversation this weekend with a very good friend of mine. She is a great Scouter and is an asset to the Boy Scouts of America. She shared with me some apprehensions when her boys were beginning to show interest in Scouting.. They centered around joining an organization that “taught discrimination”. I thought this was interesting and the discussion could go many ways. Which got me thinking…The word discrimination conjures up negative images, especially when we are discussing race and gender. But I can argue that we discriminate every day.
“More than 90 years ago, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded on the premise of teaching boys moral and ethical values through an outdoor program that challenges them and teaches them respect for nature, one another, and themselves. Scouting has always represented the best in community, leadership, and service.
The Boy Scouts of America has selected its leaders using the highest standards because strong leaders and positive role models are so important to the healthy development of youth. Today, the organization still stands firm that their leaders exemplify the values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.
On June 28, 2000, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed the Boy Scouts of America’s standing as a private organization with the right to set its own membership and leadership standards.
The BSA respects the rights of people and groups who hold values that differ from those encompassed in the Scout Oath and Law, and the BSA makes no effort to deny the rights of those whose views differ to hold their attitudes or opinions.
Scouts come from all walks of life and are exposed to diversity in Scouting that they may not otherwise experience. The Boy Scouts of America aims to allow youth to live and learn as children and enjoy Scouting without immersing them in the politics of the day.
We hope that our supporters will continue to value the Boy Scouts of America’s respect for diversity and the positive impact Scouting has on young people’s lives. We realize that not every individual nor organization subscribes to the same beliefs that the BSA does, but we hope that all Americans can be as respectful of our beliefs as we are of theirs and support the overall good Scouting does in American communities.” from the BSA Website position statement on Diversity.
The BSA clearly honors a diverse environment that is consistent with the values of Scouting outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.
The intent to discriminate against homosexual adults applying as leaders is not hateful, it is not consistent with the promise we make to “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”. But more importantly to keep our Scouts in a safe environment.
So who’s morality? Well for almost 100 years.. The Boy Scouts of America and the Chartered Partners that maintain the units within the organization.
The BSA, being a PRIVATE organization has the right to set it’s rules and standards. It also has the obligation to maintain consistency within those guidelines. The BSA is obligated to its membership first. In turn the membership is consistant throughout the Nation and Communities in which they live.
So back to discrimination. We do it daily.. We make discriminating choices all the time, that is not to say they are hateful in anyway. Homosexuality is a good example and an extremely divisive topic. I am not going to go into it here, but it too is a discriminator. I have friends that are Homosexual. I do not condone their life style nor do I support it. I don’t even accept it. I tolerate it, not hateful and never will I treat them less than anyone else, but when I have to make a choice to accept it or tolerate it.. I do… and that is a form of discrimination.
I discriminate between Mcdonalds and Burger King, solely based on the french fries. I discriminate on camping gear and the places I shop. REI over Joes.. I like the service and the products. I discriminate over clothing and shoes, some fit better, some come from companies I feel are helping the community etc.
So non- hateful discrimination exists daily and is not a bad thing.
Hateful discrimination on the other hand is absolutely not tolerated, not in my house, not in the Boy Scouts of America.
So the discussion went. So does the BSA teach discrimination, sure.. it teaches Scouts to make ethical and moral decisions and that forces discrimination (non hateful).
It asks that Scouts and their leaders live the values of Scouting found in the Scout Oath and Law. It wants the Scouts to find or enhance their individual religious beliefs.
Every meeting we make a promise to ourselves and to everyone that is listening to do my duty to God and Country and to OBEY the Scout law, to help other people at all times and then the three to ourselves, to keep myself physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally straight.
What kind of promise are we making if we do not really believe we are too live up to it?
We discriminate in the very words of the Scout Law, we say that we will not tolerate those that are not Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.
This is the kind of Discrimination we need in America. It holds all of us accountable. It tells us that we need to be the very best we can be. None of which is hurtful or hateful.