I know this isn’t exactly migraine-related. However, migraines have sidelined me from being as active in Boy Scouts as I want to be. I may not be able to tolerate a camp fire, but I have a big mouth, lots of opinions, and a big bully pulpit. So here’s my contribution to the debate.
BSA National wouldn’t even be discussing a change in their “no gays” policy if it weren’t for the loss of money. They have spent a fortune defending their right as a private organization to limit membership in any way they see fit. The Supreme Court upheld this right. BSA won. This should be a non-issue.
Organizations whose stated policies are diametrically opposed to the values of Scouting have donated such large sums of money for long enough that BSA has become dependent upon those funds. Now they use the threat of withholding those “generous donations” to extort a policy change. I really wonder if this wasn’t their end-game all along.
All young people regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation should have access to the benefits of Scouting. I have been a Scouter since 2007. My daughter was Crew Leader of a Venturing Crew and my son is “this close” to completing his Eagle Scout project. Both my son and husband are respected members of Order of the Arrow and the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. It’s a great organization that builds character, teaches ethical behavior, respect for nature, and a lifelong love of outdoor activities. Any young person can and should benefit.
But that’s not the point. If BSA is going to change the policy, let it come from a grassroots effort within the organization, not some deep pockets with an agenda. Perhaps BSA National and councils around the country need to stop worrying less about money and more about who is offering the money and what they want in return. We teach the boys a code of conduct and encourage them to live life according to this code. Maybe the adults in charge need to start practicing what they preach.
Let’s examine this issue in light of BSA’s guiding principles, The 12 Scout Laws
- Trustworthy – Can corporate donors be trusted to support the values of Scouting or do they have a hidden agenda?
- Loyal – Have corporate donors demonstrated loyalty to Scouting through past behaviors or is it their purpose to denigrate Scouting and use it for their own agenda?
- Helpful – Volunteer service to others is the cornerstone of Scouting. Do corporate donors engage in community service and “random acts of kindness” without expecting anything in return? Threatening to withhold funds until the BSA conforms to their ideas of what it should be is not helpful.
- Friendly – Do corporate donors have a history of friendly behaviors toward BSA? Friends do not say unkind things about one another, nor do they manipulate, extort, or blackmail each other.
- Courteous – Manners matter! Tact, diplomacy, decorum are important skills for any gentleman or lady. Corporate donors should strive to live up to this ideal. Threatening your friends is just rude.
- Kind – Are the members of donor corporations nice people? Do they treat people with respect, regardless of their opinions, beliefs, background, race, creed, color, or sexual orientation? Insults and name calling are not kind.
- Obedient – Obedience isn’t just following the rules or not getting caught. It’s about having a good attitude and not trying to circumvent the rules. Corporate donors need to have a good record of playing by the rules and using responsible ethics to change the rules with which they disagree.
- Cheerful – Are corporate donors genuinely cheerful or do they only “put on a good face” just to get what they want?
- Thrifty – This is more than just being frugal. It’s about stewardship. Corporate donors need to demonstrate good money management, including ethical fundraising and disbursement of charitable funds.
- Brave – Do corporate donors have the courage to stand up for Scouting principles even in the face of economic and image threats? Are their board rooms filled with men and women of character or spineless children who bend to the whims of bullies?
- Clean – We teach our boys that “cleanliness” is not just about bathing. It’s about keeping your heart pure, watching your mouth, cleaning up your messes, and taking good care of self, others, and the environment. Are the corporate donors’ hands dirty?
- Reverent – We teach the boys to respect everyone’s beliefs. We encourage them to attend houses of worship on Scout Sunday and to maintain the proper attitude of respect whether they share these beliefs or not. Scouting has a long history of interfaith cooperation. Can our corporate sponsors say the same?
If one of my Scouts were faced with this kind of dilemma, I would tell him to use the teachings of his faith, his personal principles, and the Scout Law as his guides. I would tell him to stand up to bullies even if he got beat up because standing up for what’s right and demonstrating integrity are more valuable than anything a bully can take from you. Do we have the courage and moral fortitude to stand up against this immoral extortion? Or will we sell out our principles and right of self-governance for money?
Our boys are tomorrow’s leaders. They will follow our example. What we do this week will have an impact on generations of young people.