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July 27, 2012

On The Great Eagle Scout Backlash: Two Great Posts.

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I am an Eagle Scout. Generally, and consistently, I have been enormously proud of that. For examples, I "rank" it above my Law Review editor position in law school, seeing my writing published in major newspapers at a young age, making partner in my previous firm or founding Hull McGuire. The more I think about it, being an Eagle Scout is second only to one thing: giving up booze 26 years ago.

So these two pieces written this week interested me greatly. Each post takes a very similar view of the BSA's recent if repackaged stand against openly homosexual scouts within its ranks. Each, however, suggests a different remedy. Me? I am not sure yet about the remedy. Thinking. I can only tell you that I deplore the policy, even while I find it legally unassailable. The two posts:

More Men Join the Ranks of Former Eagle Scout by Maggie Koerth-Baker, the wife of Eagle Scout Chris Baker, at BoingBoing. This is powerful and persuasive--and moving. Let her introduce you to some interesting, and inspiring, Eagle Scouts.

A Word About Awards by defense trial lawyer Eric Mayer, also an Eagle Scout, at his always-sane and thoughtful Unwashed Advocate. It's also powerful and persuasive--and smart. Two excerpts from Mayer, but do read the entire post:

From 2004 to 2010, the published policy of the BSA was as follows:

Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.

In 2010, this statement disappeared from official publication. In June 2012, they published a much colder explanation:

The BSA policy is: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.

The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.

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Juxtaposing this policy upon the Boy Scout Law, I find, independently, that it is not Friendly, nor Courteous, nor Kind, nor Brave, nor Clean. And, as for Reverent. Anyone who finds themselves moved to tears by the Sermon on the Mount (regardless of religious affiliation or subscriptions) should taste the bile welling in their throats at such blatant and disgusting discrimination by an organization claiming to uphold the highest of moral values.

Next, let me be clear about something else. Do not confuse the organization with the program.

The program is a warm and inviting place where caring and conscientious volunteers facilitate the emotional and physical growth of young men by using a structured learning and leadership environment in order to teach them valuable life skills and lessons. The vast majority of volunteers are dedicated to assisting these kids in becoming good men, regardless of sexuality, religion, or background. One does not need to earn the Eagle Scout award to gain benefit from the program, but the award does recognize significant dedication and work in the program.

The organization is cold. Detached “professionals” operate a not-for-profit organization consisting of nearly 3 million members, paying their higher leadership handsome salaries for sustaining growth and organizational integrity. They receive significant support from christian denominations throughout the US, and the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) make participation largely mandatory for its male youth.

Posted by JD Hull at July 27, 2012 09:18 PM

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