Yahoo asked former Boy Scouts, leaders and scouting families to react to Monday's news that the Boy Scouts of America organization is considering removing its ban on gay members and leaders. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | Of the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared," someone once asked the Boy Scout founder Baden-Powell "Be prepared for what?" He replied "Why, for any old thing."
News broke today that Boy Scouts are considering dropping the ban on gay scouts. The move is sure to spark a debate similar to the one Girl Scouts experienced last year, when news broke that a transgender child was allowed to participate in an activity.
I was a Boy Scout in the 1980s in Texas, achieving the rank of Life, one below Eagle. We had a student who nearly the entire troop thought was gay and he did little to change that impression among others. You would think he would have had a rough time, given the state and the time frame. But the others in the troop treated him just like everyone else. That was a marked contrast from the reaction at a local school, where a student was pelted with rocks by the other kids when he came out of the closet. But the Boy Scouts were more professional about the matter.
Such a move should put the Boy Scouts in line with the army and new views about marriage. So long as the gay scouts do not violate the scout oath and scout law, things should go well. But the Boy Scouts should nonetheless "be prepared" (the scout motto) for some competition. There's already a conservative alternative to the Girl Scouts that appeared at a local Scout-o-rama in West Georgia. And the Girl Scouts experienced a cookie boycott. It's been tough for my wife and her sister, both of whom run Girl Scout troops and my brother-in-law, a Cub Scout pack leader. The Boy Scouts seem prepared to head off such a move by making the move binding on the national organization, leaving local chapters to develop their own policies.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.
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