Both Pro-Gay And Anti-Gay Families Are Understandably Turning Away From Boy Scouts

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boy-scoutsIt would seem the Boy Scouts of America are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Now that they finally changed their policy to include gay scouts (emphasis on the finally, because doesn’t it seem like this has been going on for a million years?) both sides of the debate are upset and enrolling their kiddos in alternative programs.

From the New York Times:

Some parents are seeking to sever ties with the Boy Scouts because of the May 23 vote to allow gay youths into the program. Still others are indignant that the scouts have not moved more quickly to adopt more inclusive policies.

The variety of choices include the Royal Rangers, which offers “Christ-like character formation” for boys, as well as SpiralScouts International, founded by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca, which awards badges named for pagan holidays.

The article also describes a faith-based program called Royal Ambassadors, which the Southern Baptist Convention is going to encourage churches to endorse. On the more secular side, there are groups like the Navigators USA, which, according to its website, “welcomes all people; boys and girls and adults no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief. We believe the greatest challenge for the future of our planet is whether we will learn how to get along with people different than ourselves.”

Even though my belief system would put me more in the Navigators USA camp (plus, how cool is it that boys and girls get to learn and play together?) I can also see where the religious folk are coming from. While some parents may enroll their children in Scouts because of the valuable survival skills and team-building, others view it as an opportunity for spiritual growth within their primarily Christian communities. And if these parents believe that homosexuality is a sin, I may not agree with them, but I understand why they would feel uncomfortable having their children in Boy Scouts.

I don’t want to lump all Christians into the same group, because that’s unfair. I know Christians who aren’t out to demonize gay people. My home church had quite a few openly gay members, and none of its leaders — to my knowledge — ever discouraged them from being exactly who they were.

But I do approve of this upsurge in alternative scouting programs. I never did Girl Scouts, and I know from talking to my friend Dr. Elizabeth Nichols that the Girl Scouts aren’t just about baking and sewing anymore. Still, I would rather my daughter join a group that teaches her to work as a team with both boys and girls, and people of all different belief systems. Hopefully by the time my daughter’s old enough, there will be a program similar to Navigators USA in our overwhelmingly conservative city.

(photo: spirit of america / Shutterstock)