Boston.com pays tribute to government-sanctioned homophobia

Boston.com is running a lovely little tribute to the Boy Scouts of America. It isn't the tribute itself that's offensive, as mainstream media frequently commemorates anniversaries of events that aren't necessarily supposed to be seen in a positive light (disasters, bombings, genocides, etc.) What's bothersome is that their tribute portrays the Boy Scouts as something that's been a part of the lives of many "great Americans," yet completely glosses over how the Boy Scouts isn't an option for many talented and hard-working Americans.

There's also a mention of the scouting movement having started in England, yet no mention of how the English scouts have a nondiscrimination policy.

Their comparison of the American Boy Scouts to the American Girl Scouts is particularly offensive. I'm particularly offended as someone who was a scout for many years and continues to support the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts is an organization that actively conducts research and initiates programs that promote diversity and acceptance of self and others. It's a very progressive and feminist organization, really. The Boy Scouts is an organization that actively works to inflitrate our public schools and public community centers with groups and events that exclude individuals and families who are athiest or include queers. They use government resources to spread the message that it's important to teach leadership and discipline to boys, but only those who are straight boys from straight parents. Is it to much to expect that professional journalists would know that every group with "scout" in the name is not the same type of organization?

For those who are interested in some aspects of Boy Scouting but don't wish to support homophobia, Scouting for All provides resources for starting troops that have an antidiscrimination policy at the troop level, and helps members and families locate these troops. As far as I know, the troops still have to pay dues to the (homophobic) national organization, so it's not perfect, but it's at least a way to be involved in scouting without supporting homophobia to quite the same extent. And no, Boston.com didn't bother to mention this wonderful organization. So, uh, happy 100th anniversary, Boy Scouts. Hopefully it won't be another 100 years until your organization learns that real leaders need to be taught acceptance of everyone.


7 comments:

Tom Lang said...

Thank you for writing this post--your thoughts on this mean alot. I was a Boy Scout and absolutely the experience was one of the more rewarding and important ones of my childhood and adolescence.

It saddens me as to what the BSA did when it excluded and demonized gays within not only its leadership but among the youth itself. How dare it deprive "some" youth from participating in what WAS could have been a very important step into adulthood.

Shame on the Boy Scouts and those who continue to allow this discrimination to continue!!

eeka said...

Tom, thanks for that. Hey, have you considered contacting Scouting for All and telling them your thoughts on the organization? They keep a collection of personal stories from former scouts who enjoyed the organization. They might like to hear from you, especially since you're "high profile" in the queer community. :o)

It's so frustrating that so few people speak out regarding the Boy Scouts. It seems pretty clear to me that they shouldn't be able to consider themselves a private organization (thus free to discriminate). Where I went to elementary school, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were very much sanctioned by the public schools and the community. We presented the flag during school assemblies and gave out awards at city events. Both organizations used library and school facilities free of charge.

Some communities have refused to allow the Boy Scouts to use public facilities free of charge because of the discriminatory policies, but they usually end up caving in and making a blanket policy that Girl Scouts and Campfire and so forth can't use the facilities free of charge either, so the municipality's stance regarding the Boy Scouts then becomes meaningless. *sigh*

Ian said...

See:


Badge of courage - Boy Scouts - Boy Scout council in Massachusetts creates diversity award - Brief Article Advocate, The, July 23, 2002

Massachusetts's largest Boy Scout council, the Boston Minutemen, took another stand for nondiscrimination June 10 when it announced the creation of a diversity award at its annual fund-raiser.

[b]The council, which last year adopted a nondiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation despite the national organization's ban on gays, underscored its point by inviting an openly gay local radio host to be master of ceremonies at the fund-raising dinner.[/b]

The "diversity awareness award badge," which will be given for the first time this fall, is open to all levels of scouts, scout leaders, and community groups who complete a curriculum of activities promoting diversity--including race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Brock Bigsby, scout executive for the Minuteman Council, said the national organization is powerless to stop the award: "Local councils do have the flexibility to establish awards like this to meet the needs of our kids. Scouting traditionally has been a very diverse activity."

More:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_2002_July_23/ai_89871707


Also, I wanted to let you know I cited you here:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=221&topic_id=55475&mesg_id=55475

eeka said...

Hey Ian. Thanks for the link.

I am aware of the local council's policy. But still, the scouts in Massachusetts pay dues to the larger homophobic organization and choose to be affiliated with it. If they wanted to be really inclusive, they could break off and have a statewide scouting organization founded on equality and tolerance.

eeka said...

Oh, also, the Boston.com article wasn't only saluting scouts from Boston Minuteman Council. It was just touting the BSA as a wonderful organization that teaches skills to boys, without any mention that it excludes many boys and their families.

eeka said...

I just looked at your post on Democratic Underground again, Ian. It isn't "Boy Scouts of Massachusetts" that has the nondiscrimination policy; it's one council out of the 12. I've written to the others at various points to ask if they have nondiscrimination policies, and didn't get replies from any of them.

Do you know which other councils in MA do and don't have antidiscrimination policies?

eeka said...

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