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#1 mouse

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 08:02 PM

I normally avoid this part of the forum, but this is important to me. I was an Eagle Scout. Today, I mailed back my medal because the organization continues to discriminate against gays. This is the letter I sent.


Daniel Kane
408 19 St. FL 2
Brooklyn, NY 11215

July 23, 2012

BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079

To Whom It May Concern,

From the day I joined Troop 55, Glen Ridge NJ in November 1996, Scouting has played a major role in my life. My formative years were shaped by the Boy Scouts in powerful ways. I became a leader, because I didn’t have a choice, and because I was taught to work with others, rather than settling for being a loner. Thanks to Scouting, I became a man, something many people who are supposed to be adults have failed to do. Even nine years after I last attended meetings regularly, I can still name the Scout Laws, Oath, Motto, and Slogan off the top of my head, and still try to live my life by the ideals I learned through scouting.

Many of the greatest lessons and rites of passage in my life were a result of scouting. Through my troop, I learned to trust others, but also to question them. I learned that sometimes leading is doing what others don’t want to, and sometimes it is letting them suffer from the work they didn’t complete so they become accountable. I will never forget the work I put in as a Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader, or the year I was a Den Chief and earned the Den Chief service award by basically running the den because the Den Mother didn’t have time. As a scout I learned to make leave a campsite better than I found it, and from that basic lesson, to leave the world better than I found it. My first job was aquatics counselor at Rodney Scout Reservation, and I grew more in my two summers as an Aquat than any other time in my life. Although we rarely see each other now, I trust my brothers from my troop like family, and always will. As you can imagine, very few achievements mean as much to me as earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

Despite the pride that I felt at that final Board of Review, I also felt a twinge of guilt. By the time I made Eagle, the Boy Scouts of America had already decided to ban homosexuals from membership. I rationalized my decision to remain in scouts despite my moral qualms. I reminded myself that my scoutmaster, in an incredibly courageous moment, had announced that he would never enforce the ban. I convinced myself that I had earned the rank, deserved it, and, since I was straight, was not breaking any rules by accepting it. Finally, I was unwilling to break away from my brothers in the troop. Therefore, I put my guilt aside, and allowed myself to celebrate what will always be one of my greatest achievements, rather than standing up for those who would never get to celebrate this moment, no matter how deserving they were.

As I have grown older, however, I have not been able to conveniently ignore my conscience. Boy Scouts taught me to be brave and honorable. Because I am, I cannot be a part of an organization that discriminates. There is nothing in the Scout Laws or Oath that condemns homosexuality. There is no legal justification for treating homosexuals any differently. I know that certain religions ban homosexuality, and that the law “reverent” has been used to justify BSA’s ban of homosexuals, but many religions have no problem with the queer community, and BSA has never required its members to worship the same god, so that justification should go out the window.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my time in scouts was to work with people who were different from me, people who disagree with me. It is a skill I struggle with today, but my journey to Eagle taught me that it is a fight worth fighting, that the world is a richer place because of its diversity, and that all people can contribute something worthwhile. That is the basis of democracy. It therefore saddens me to see the organization that forced me to learn this lesson shutting its doors to people some of its leaders happen to disagree with.

It is also disturbing that an organization that stresses the importance of democracy would put bigotry ahead of that ideal. Just as a petition was delivered to BAS asking for a new vote on anti-gay policy, a secret committee chose to uphold the ban without a vote. One of the consequences of democracy is living with the results, even when we do not agree with them. I do not know how I would respond to an executive board voting to continue the ban, and apparently I will never know, because a few people would rather prevent the democratic process from happening. I do know that I now have a new reason to be disgusted with BSA.

Most importantly, it is my firm conviction that this nation’s greatest sin is discrimination against homosexuals. I know the Boy Scouts are not alone in this act, but the Boy Scouts are the organization that matters most to me. Discrimination is not a victimless crime. Based on data compiled by the FBI and the analysis of the Southern Poverty Law Center, homosexuals are more likely to be victims of violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States. I am not saying that BSA encourages hate crimes, but by portraying homosexuals as deviant, BSA makes it easier for less stable, more violent people to justify their heinous actions. Furthermore, gay youth, the very people you have excluded, are more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Many suicide victims kill themselves because they feel ostracized. While you have the right to limit your membership, there is blood on your hands, whether you foresaw it or not.

I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. I do believe that discrimination is. I do believe that making a large group of young people feel less than human because of something they cannot control is a sin. I accept that I do not speak for God, and may be wrong, but even if I am wrong, Jesus Christ told us to love God and love one another. He told us “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” By excluding gay scouts, BSA leadership is failing to love a large group of people, and continues to throw stones. Whatever deity we have chosen to follow, we can agree to love each other and not kick those who are down.

I learned from the Boy Scouts to be a leader, not a follower. I learned to make tough decisions and stick with them. I have always done my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to keep myself morally straight. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I renounce all affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America. I will continue to use the lessons I learned from scouting in my life, and it saddens me that an organization that meant so much to me is now so strongly opposed to my value system, that my children will not benefit from the support system scouting gave me unless something drastic changes, but I will deal with that sadness.

I would like to thank you for the guidance you gave me as I grew, and hope to be able to rejoin your ranks some day.

Sincerely,

Daniel Kane

Former Senior Patrol Leader, Troop 55, Glen Ridge, NJ
Former Den Chief, Den 5, Pack 5, Montclair, NJ
Former Counselor, Rodney Scout Reservation, Northeast, MD
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#2 devilsfan26

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:20 AM

Wow man that must have been tough. Props for sticking to your morals. I finished cub scouts and visited a few meetings from different boy scout troops in my area but never actually joined one because by the time I got to middle school homework sadly took up almost all of my time on weekdays.
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#3 Jerrydevil

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:54 AM

Mouse, I respect your decision to do what you believe is right. I do, however, see why the Boy Scouts do not want to change its policy. It is a socially conservative organization, and it would like to stay that way. But the Boy Scouts is under enormous pressure to jump in the pool of gay politics, when it has no desire to be there, and has no desire to sexualize its organization. But the mainstream liberal media, as I see it, is ganging up on the Boy Scouts. I have not read ANY mainstream media story defending the Scouts' right to freedom of association. I find that disheartening.

I'll bet the Boy Scouts is looking at what has happened to the Girl Scouts, and it is very concerned. Girl Scouts has been sexualized, and it's inappropriate. The Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood are partners, and I know parents of preteen girls who are none too happy about it. In general, Girl Scouts has become a place for girls to be indoctrinated in liberal politics.
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#4 devilsfan26

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:08 AM

I don't really watch mainstream news so I don't know what kind of coverage it has gotten, but just because they can legally do this because of freedom of association doesn't mean they don't deserve to be criticized for it. Also your statement that girl scouts has become a place for girls to be indoctrinated in liberal politics while also saying that boy scouts is a socially conservative organization and would like to stay that way seems like a double standard.
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#5 Daniel

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:59 AM

I wasn't in the Scouts, so I don't have a dog in this fight. But this is the right way to go about changing the Boy Scouts, rather than through lawsuits.
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#6 Jerrydevil

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:06 AM

I don't really watch mainstream news so I don't know what kind of coverage it has gotten, but just because they can legally do this because of freedom of association doesn't mean they don't deserve to be criticized for it. Also your statement that girl scouts has become a place for girls to be indoctrinated in liberal politics while also saying that boy scouts is a socially conservative organization and would like to stay that way seems like a double standard.


You can criticize their policy. I think the left, including the mainstream print media, wants to destroy the Boy Scouts if it does not change its policy on homosexuals. I have a problem with that. Instead of being creative and forming their own organization, they want to tear one down. That's wrong.

My point about the Girl Scouts is that its traditional mission of community service and leadership development was usurped by a leftist agenda, including radical feminism. I'm sure there are many people who disagree with that assessment. But there are many who share my views. It was enough of an issue that a new organization, American Heritage Girls, was founded because the far left destroyed the Girl Scouts.

Edited by Jerrydevil, 24 July 2012 - 10:22 AM.

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#7 Devils Dose

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:21 AM

Interesting. I would have considered the changes being called for in Boy Scouts policy to be "de-sexualizing." My reasoning is that if it doesn't matter what your orientation is, then the organization can be solely about values like trust, community service, learning, conservation, etc. The way that they do things now, don't they have to answer kids questions like, "Why is Scoutmaster Willie not going to be here anymore?" And if they answer those questions honestly, they'll be talking about sexuality. Or they could just lie to the kids, but I'm sure that lying is not one the values they meant to instill.
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#8 95Crash

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:26 AM

I was a Cub Scout for a few years, then a Webelo, and then for a very short time a Boy Scout. Granted, this was a long time ago, but I do not remember the scouts being either conservative or liberal. I thought the organization was simply about teaching boys to become responsible citizens. I think maybe that's why this rule about them not allowing homosexuals as members seems a little out of left field to many people.
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#9 Jerrydevil

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:39 AM

The way that they do things now, don't they have to answer kids questions like, "Why is Scoutmaster Willie not going to be here anymore?"


That was pretty funny!
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#10 Devils Dose

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:44 AM

I have not read ANY mainstream media story defending the Scouts' right to freedom of association.

A simple Google News search turns up plenty of articles that defend the constitutional rights of the Boys Scouts. Not too many of those articles are supporting the position though. The Scouts are fully protected in court (from what I understand, they are not in violation of any anti-discrimination laws), but as we all know, the court of public opinion gets to continue pressing charges whenever it wants to.

That was pretty funny!

I do try. Zero nominations for funniest poster though.
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#11 mouse

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:56 AM

Mouse, I respect your decision to do what you believe is right. I do, however, see why the Boy Scouts do not want to change its policy. It is a socially conservative organization, and it would like to stay that way. But the Boy Scouts is under enormous pressure to jump in the pool of gay politics, when it has no desire to be there, and has no desire to sexualize its organization. But the mainstream liberal media, as I see it, is ganging up on the Boy Scouts. I have not read ANY mainstream media story defending the Scouts' right to freedom of association. I find that disheartening.



When I was a scout, it was supposed to be apolitical, and when I worked camp, you really got every political background. The thing we all had in common was giving a sh!t, because one of the important requirements of BSA was being a good citizen. The organization has become socially conservative, and, by banning gays a little over 10 years ago, put themselves in a place where they're being attacked. If they had ignored sexuality, no one would care about their views or with whom they associated. They have the right to, just like I have the right to leave. A bunch of Eagle Scouts, who used to get second interviews just because they made Eagle, have started pulling Eagle Scout off of their resumes, because the rank means something different than it used to, at least as far as condoning the organization's politics. BSA cannot legally be forced to change, but I want nothing to do with what they have become. I wasn't the brains behind this -- a bunch of Eagle Scouts have been mailing their medals back. I'm just grateful to whoever came up with the idea -- I was pissed, but wasn't doing anything until I saw that.
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#12 DevsMan84

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:12 PM

One of my life's biggest regrets was to not join the boy scouts.

Since they are a private association they have every right to do what they want. I can't join a Lucille Roberts gym but you don't see me or any big group of men bitching about it.

I think jerrydevil is right as this is an attack by the left to destroy a private organization who since it's existence had been at least somewhat conservative in their values.
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#13 95Crash

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:37 PM

One of my life's biggest regrets was to not join the boy scouts.

Since they are a private association they have every right to do what they want. I can't join a Lucille Roberts gym but you don't see me or any big group of men bitching about it.

I think jerrydevil is right as this is an attack by the left to destroy a private organization who since it's existence had been at least somewhat conservative in their values.

That's what I don't get about the Boy Scouts. What makes its values conservative or liberal?
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#14 Jerrydevil

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:12 PM

That's what I don't get about the Boy Scouts. What makes its values conservative or liberal?


The Boy Scout Oath calls for "duty to God and country." I'm going to call that a conservative value. Patriotism and individualism are at the core of Scout beliefs. Also conservative values.
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#15 mouse

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:45 PM

The Boy Scout Oath calls for "duty to God and country." I'm going to call that a conservative value. Patriotism and individualism are at the core of Scout beliefs. Also conservative values.


I have a problem with those values being conservative. Loving your country should not be based on politics. Neither should religion. I admit that the rhetoric of this country have shifted patriotism and religion to the right, but historically and elsewhere in the world, these values have had nothing to do with how you vote. Look at the Civil War era: some churches encouraged slavery, others led the underground railroad. As for individualism, I think it's more complex than you give it credit for. The 60s, considered the most liberal of decades, were shaped by people asserting their individualism. Financially speaking, individualism is more of a conservative value, but it's an overstatement to call individualism conservative.

Finally, if BSA had been a conservative organization whose values were as far from mine as they are now, I would not have joined, and I would have lost something that benefitted me. The organization that helped shape me began shifting farther and farther to the right, which is why I'm leaving. I'm not saying they shouldn't be allowed to do that. I am saying that this shift is bad for the scouts and bad for kids like me who will not benefit from the scouts. One of the things that made the camp I worked at special was the wide range of ideas the staff had. We had liberal arts kids, and guys who wanted to serve in the armed forces as long as they could remember. The discussions we had (when we weren't talking about girls, sports, etc) were incredibly stimulating, more so because, no matter how often we disagreed, we all cared about the country we lived in. And, much as we overused the word jerk, we really didn't care about sexual orientation. One of the best staff members we had came out a couple years later, and no one was surprised. No matter where we stood politically, and even religiously, we were all able to acknowledge that the camp was better with him running the pool than it would have been with anyone else. I'm not at all saying it was utopia, because there were certainly issues, but the group of people I worked with at a Boy Scout camp were much more open to different opinions and lifestyles than BSA's current office.

I would also argue that making duty to country a conservative value is highly destructive. This country is great because people who disagreed loved it enough to work together to create something special. If only half the country is supposed to love it, we lose that dialogue.
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You don't turn this around in a couple shifts. Its going to take a little time, but I know the guys will come back. Because I can see it. -- Jacques Lemaire

 

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#16 Jerrydevil

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 02:58 PM

Mouse, bubbling beneath the surface of many liberals I know is a contempt for the USA, the Constitution, traditional family values, free enterprise and religion. They also profess to be tolerant, but eviscerate anyone who doesn't believe what they believe. In the Boy Scouts example, they call themselves "progressives" for trying to bully the organization into doing what they believe is right, while trampling over the organization's rights to free association and to set their own guidelines.

Like I said, I respect your decision to do what you believe is right. I don't care for the slings and arrows from liberal politicians and the editorial writers of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and their ilk, who have declared war on the Boy Scouts ... and any other organization that doesn't toe the liberal line.

Back to the Boy Scouts. Mouse, as angry and disappointed as you are about that organization's policy of excluding open homosexuals, I am just as angry that liberals are attempting to use the Boy Scouts as a platform for gay rights. How dare they?

Edited by Jerrydevil, 24 July 2012 - 02:59 PM.

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#17 Devils Dose

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:14 PM

Patriotism

This is a can of worms waiting to explode.

and individualism are at the core of Scout beliefs. Also conservative values.

I wasn't a part of scouts, so I don't really know, so if rugged individualism is a core value of Boy Scouts, then I'll buy this. But the impression that I had was that the Scouts value some balance of individualism and community. Both conservatism and liberalism value balances of those two ideas, it's just where the balance lies that's different.

Again, I'm not really certain what the purpose of Scouts is. If it's to give children conservative values, then I guess it doesn't make sense for people to be upset about their policy on homosexuals (though I'm still not sure how discrimination against gays is a conservative value).
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#18 DaneykoIsGod

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:49 PM

I was a Cub Scout for a few years, then a Webelo, and then for a very short time a Boy Scout. Granted, this was a long time ago, but I do not remember the scouts being either conservative or liberal. I thought the organization was simply about teaching boys to become responsible citizens. I think maybe that's why this rule about them not allowing homosexuals as members seems a little out of left field to many people.


Ditto, almost word for word. I remember it being camping trips, tying knots, and various exercises teaching everything from state flags to basic engineering principles. There was an oath that mentioned "God and country", but that really isn't much different from the Pledge of Allegiance or what's printed on our money. :noclue:
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#19 mouse

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 04:04 PM

Ditto, almost word for word. I remember it being camping trips, tying knots, and various exercises teaching everything from state flags to basic engineering principles. There was an oath that mentioned "God and country", but that really isn't much different from the Pledge of Allegiance or what's printed on our money. :noclue:


This. And I'm not ready to say that God and country belong to either conservatives or liberals.
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You don't turn this around in a couple shifts. Its going to take a little time, but I know the guys will come back. Because I can see it. -- Jacques Lemaire

 

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#20 mouse

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 04:09 PM

Back to the Boy Scouts. Mouse, as angry and disappointed as you are about that organization's policy of excluding open homosexuals, I am just as angry that liberals are attempting to use the Boy Scouts as a platform for gay rights. How dare they?


I'd still argue that the Boy Scouts opened themselves up for this the moment they banned gays without any rationale. Nothing in the Scout Laws or Oath say anything about sexual preference. BSA publicly changed their value system to a more conservative one. Many of the liberals complaining loudest are former scouts.

I know I'm not going to sell you on certain beliefs of mine, just like you're not going to sell me on certain beliefs of yours, but I don't buy that BSA is an innocent victim here. They knew what they were doing when they banned gays, and they knew there would be backlash.
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Sumus Legio
You don't turn this around in a couple shifts. Its going to take a little time, but I know the guys will come back. Because I can see it. -- Jacques Lemaire

 

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