In the mid-1940s my father re-founded, with others, Troop 37 in a small South Carolina mill town. He resurrected what was clearly among the earliest local Boy Scout organizations in our country. In the mid-70s I re-chartered, with others, the same entity my father did a generation earlier. We both became Eagles, one of the first leadership milestones for both of us. He pursued a military career, attaining the rank of colonel; I took on sales and public speaking, eventually earning a terminal degree.
The Boy Scouts’ principled decision to keep away homosexual men from its leadership ranks and supposed homosexual boys out of its following is to be applauded. Not because I am full of hate … or empty of empathy. Nor due to a lack of sophistication and nuance on my part. And certainly not because I am – how one despises the Orwellian word coined by those who try to obfuscate underlying real issues in the debate – homophobic.
No, rather, we raise a glass to one of the few American institutions not to capitulate to Radical Homosexuality. Good for the nation that one organization founded to form men out of boys has drawn a helpful line.
The BSA refuses to subject those in their minority to the inevitable confusion which would prevail if sexual ‘options’ were a characteristic ethos in the mix of variously aged males sharing intimate space.
They believe boys are boys and need men who are unambiguously men to model the transition into responsible adult masculinity. I do too.
For even a hint of homosex as backdrop to learning about citizen-ship, camping and assuming responsibility is unfair for those actually being served by volunteer scoutmasters – profoundly impressionable boys. It’s one thing to experiment with, say, military men and women who are of age, quite another those early teens taken away from their (oft-broken) families (such as they are) for weekend trips sharing close quarters.
As news spreads of yet another principled “No!” by an august standard of rectitude, the BSA will no doubt come under renewed assault. What a pity. While the overwhelming majority of cultures down through the ages celebrate the period of innocence into which Scouting speaks, a rabid minority has already filled the airways, spilt ink and otherwise harrumphed with evocative words like rights, exclusion and victimization. For heaven’s sake, grow up!
Meanwhile, let us do all in our power to affirm that – repeating – men are to be men (not to mention women being women). Have we not suffered enough androgyny? Go to any Olive Garden restaurant in any part of the USA and the waitresses (not servers) both look ridiculous in and complain about wearing men’s ties. Enough already with males not quite men … and females not quite women!
Indeed, formation of a mature wholesome identity among our future male leaders individually and as a group cannot happen if we as a culture refuse to allow boys to be boys.
At the century plus mark of their existence, if the Boy Scouts were not permitted to create a safe place for emotionally and physiologically vulnerable youth, who would? We’ve observed over the past months with profound sorrow that not even a sport as venerable in the American experience as college football is exempt from predatory men overtaking not a few smaller and undeveloped bodies of male youth – repeatedly.
And we would permit homosex men to be instilling rectitude and character into pubescent potential prizes?! The BSA wisely thinks not, knowing the shame, confusion and self-questioning which would attend an innocent being lured into homosexual practice by a trusted elder (or equally likely – an aggressive, propaganda-filled tent mate).
Sharp knives, flaming stove, boiling water: there is more than one way for a child to suffer harm in a careless kitchen. To argue pedophilia is not pederasty or that pederasty is not experimentation misses the point: let innocence be preserved from all dimensions of its diminution.
Ban the door from opportunists even as we keep away the family sedan’s keys from Uncle Bob, drunk yet again.
What a good thing it is to look back on my own advancement in Scouting without the blight of even subtle homosex indoctrination – much less a predatory experience. Whether earning the mile swim away at camp for a week … or attending the 1977 National Jamboree; whether recalling the various men who spent time with us rambunctious lads on Monday nights … or on weekend campouts all throughout the year; whether reflecting upon various individuals who had me in their homes or businesses to sign off on one of my (52) merit badges – I am glad to say none, none made an unwelcome advance upon me.
Why? Mine was a different day, the reader may suggest. Yes and no. That it was the 70s didn’t keep a local banker from making a pass, nor a band member a year behind me in school, nor even a medical professional all-too-eager to give me a physical behind closed doors. No, even then homosexuality was there, lurking, simply in other venues.
At the same time, I look back with some joy on my older boyhood because I was challenged ‘to do my best’ in an environment kept safe, in part, because practicing homosexuals were not permitted a malignant foothold in our midst at Troop 37. There, at least, was an oasis.
All boys involved in Scouting today should be able to reflect many years hence on similar experiences free from sexual confusion, harm and scar. It is fitting that Scouts aim to earn the rank of Eagle, conscious America’s symbol is the stately bald eagle. How sad that the Boy Scouts of America even had to reiterate that it is not a leering ‘gay’ one.