It’s possible, given the recent news that a member of the governing board of the Boy Scouts of America has said he wants to try to change their policy banning gay men and women from leadership positions, that the group might just be “evolving” toward a more inclusive policy toward gays and lesbians. I certainly hope that is the case.
Others have written about keeping their sons out of the Boy Scouts because of this policy. I get that. I used to feel the same way. When I was pregnant with my now 8-year-old son, I told my husband in no uncertain terms that if we had a boy, it was too bad he couldn’t be a Cub Scout or Boy Scout. We enjoy hiking and camping, and we love the idea of serving your community and doing your best. We definitely wanted to pass all of that along to our kids.
Because of that policy, though, which seemed so big that it overshadowed the good, I couldn’t imagine letting my boy participate in scouting.
Fast-forward a few years, and as my son started first grade, I had to reconsider. He has developmental delays and difficulties connecting with his peers. Playing sports on a team with his typically developing classmates is not the best fit for him.
We wanted him to have a sense of belonging to something with other kids from school, with a uniform and group activities. We revisited the possibility of Cub Scouts, and I conceded that it might be good for him. So we signed him up for the pack at his school.
Two years into our great scouting adventure, I can tell you that it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We have poured countless hours and dollars into therapy and special services for him.Those things have been beneficial. When he joined the Scouts, though, he gained a sense of affiliation that we hadn’t found elsewhere.
While the Boy Scouts continue to make national news on a regular basis because of this policy, in my experience, no one is standing in front of the boys spewing hate or bigotry. In fact, the message is overwhelmingly one of respect, understanding and compassion.
It’s a lousy policy; there’s no way around that. But it doesn’t define the Boy Scouts for me anymore. I’ve evolved, shall we say, on the subject. I continue to hold out hope that they will also evolve and make their organization open to everyone.