MY VIEW: Scouts should reflect U.S. values - Your West Valley News: My View

MY VIEW: Scouts should reflect U.S. values

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Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013 2:30 pm

The Boy Scouts of America is currently reviewing its membership policy regarding sexual orientation. The proposal is to make policy decisions on membership and selection of leaders a matter for the local sponsoring organization, consistent with their priorities and guidelines.

Since its beginning more than a century ago, the BSA has partnered with local organizations such as churches, veterans groups and civic clubs to provide character development programs for youth. Today, nearly four million youth and adult volunteers participate in programs sponsored by groups such as the American Legion, Rotary Clubs, churches of all faiths, and dozens of other community and civic organizations.

Should this policy change be accepted, it would mean that the sponsoring organization, in concert with parents of children in scouting units would decide who best meets the needs of the youth in their local program. The Boy Scouts would still require compliance with its comprehensive youth protection guidelines such as background checks and on-going training for adult leaders. Inappropriate behavior by leaders would still be cause for expulsion. It is interesting to note that volunteers have been asked to leave the program for inappropriate heterosexual behavior as well as homosexual behavior at scout activities. Such rare behavior is intolerable and is dealt with immediately and appropriately whenever it occurs.

At scouting’s inception more than 100 years ago, homosexuality was often considered a crime. We now live in an age where it is no longer a barrier even to military service. Recently Marine Corps officers of the same sex have openly and legally married. Religious faiths have often disagreed on the subject, sometimes even within their own denomination. As a nation, we have vast regional differences in public attitude on the issue. San Francisco and Provo, Utah will probably never see eye-to-eye on the subject.

The Scout Oath and Law, recited by both youth and adult members of the Boy Scouts, have been the guiding principles of the movement from its very beginnings. The Scout Oath states: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” These two statements talk about obligations of good citizenship and attributes of character. The BSA has always left the definition and application of these terms to the personal convictions of the scout and his parents and scout leaders.

According to the proposed policy, a scout unit sponsored by a secular civic club in New Jersey may develop different criteria for recruiting adult leaders from those of a unit sponsored by a fundamentalist church in Kansas. Both, however, would still have to meet national BSA standards of youth protection training and appropriate behavior.

It is important that families have access to the character development benefits of scouting in keeping with their own values. Likewise, it is important for the Boy Scouts of America to reflect the values and character of our great nation. Just as some people do not agree with the current policies of BSA, some will not welcome any change, should the current proposal be adopted. I believe the enduring values of scouting expressed in the Scout Oath and Law are strong enough to accommodate a diverse opinion while building strong character in today’s young people and tomorrow’s adults.

John Keegan is the former Mayor of Peoria and currently serves as the volunteer Boy Scout area president for the Southwestern United States and Pacific basin. The views expressed are his own.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Boyd Hartman posted at 1:53 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    Boyd Hartman Posts: 2

    Mr. Keegan suggests that the supplication of the Boy Scouts to allow for homosexual inclusion will "reflect the values and character of our great nation." Obviously Mr. Keegan has a far different conception of the 'character of our nation" than that fostered by the scouting tradition. The current passionate striving of the liberal establishment to bring to all citizens social justice and equality has nothing to do with character building and everyting to do with the dissimulation of our national character. Under the banner of social justice, egalitarianism and democratic inclusion, they have created a nation where the family, the root of civilized society is constantly challenged and is being sacrificed to the libertarian vision of utopian epistemology. The liberal view of the nature of man is that man is always moral and will pursue the greater good of all and thus should be liberated from all constraints of a civil society. Look around you Mr.Keegan and do not ignore the consequences of liberalism. Our schools are failing to educate, 40% of our children are born out of wedlock, sexuality is the dominant theme in entertainment and the role of the American male is declining in the home, on campasses and now as you intend, in scouting. Where were you when the Catholic Church, one of the guardians of our moralism was exposed by homosexual evisceration of their young men. The Catholic Church's experience should teach us that the exposure of our youth to homosexual scout masters, not only gives young scouts the wrong peer immage, it unnecessarily exosses them to temptations that a moral society should protect them from.

  • zenthrolp posted at 5:03 am on Sun, Feb 3, 2013.

    zenthrolp Posts: 2

    In response to Tib Sam:

    I think I understand your desire to be inclusive, to teach acceptance and not hatred to scouts. I believe I understand the desire to not hurt those who struggle with homosexuality. But at what cost? My deep concern is that doing so opens young boys to predators.

    I would never have my daughters on a campout with a man, no matter what assurances were in place. The chance for abuse is much too easy. I myself would never be on a campout with young girls if only for the appearance of evil. By the same reason, I will never allow my children to be on a campout with a known gay man. To conciously allow this, I would be as gulty as those who allowed Sandusky to commit his horrid acts.

    Think very seriously about the harm you will inflict on innocent children at the expense of this open minded and politically correct inclusion. These horrid crimes can fall on our heads as well.

    I feel truly sorry for someone who must fight with homsexual tendencies, but not enough to stand by and let innocent children be abused!!!!!! I have been the target of manipulation and abuse at a time when I had no clue about homosexual acts. Fortunately I fought them off. But I will never allow that to happen to another child!!!

    How will you answer those children who are abused while they were looking to you to protect them? Believe me, "Well, I just didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings" will not work and you will stand guilty.

    Please, please, just do your job and protect those children from abuse!!!

  • TibSam posted at 10:58 pm on Sat, Feb 2, 2013.

    TibSam Posts: 1

    In response to the previous comment: I am also an Eagle Scout from a family of Eagle Scouts (and one Silver Beaver - the highest award for adult volunteers), made the cover of Boys' Life and twice attended the Scouts national training center at Schiff Scout Reservation in NJ. I am the heterosexual father of two and married for 35 years.

    The exclusionary policies of the scouts - barring gay and non-religious members - are not the values I was brought up to believe while in the Scouts. I'm sorry the previous writer had the experiences he claims, but I believe them to be an aberration..

    What's needed in the Scouts are strong leaders with the training and ability to deal with all developmental issues of childhood and teen years. Coming out as gay is just one normal (10% of the population) developmental issue, as is the heterosexual awakening that was very much entwined with Scouting (and not talked about much). Dealing with others' emerging sexuality of any gender persuasion is a necessary part of teen learning.

    When I was in the Scouts, I was also exposed to antisemitism, anti-Catholicism, and racial discrimination. They were a small part of my Scouting experience, but they were all there. Unfortunately, these are all part of life in these United States and we learned from them - and when necessary and aware, our leaders used them as learning opportunities. My point is Scouting is not only knot tying and camping - it's a melting pot of learning to live with others in our society.

    Homosexuality is a normal part of human existence and if our armed forces, the girl scouts, and other organizations can find a way to be inclusive, so should the BSA.

    Finally, in response to the previous writer's belief that the BSA can choose to associate or exclude others: yes they can. BUT as long as the BSA takes public funds, uses public resources, and keeps its US Charter, it can't. You want them to be able to be exclusionary, fine. Just stop taking my tax money and using the public resources my tax money pays for.

  • zenthrolp posted at 10:14 pm on Sat, Feb 2, 2013.

    zenthrolp Posts: 2

    I grew up in scouting and am an eagle scout. My two sons and a stepson are eagle scouts. It is a wonderful organization, teaches important life skills and character traits that can be critical for a young boy.

    I have some knowledge of gays working with youth. While a teenager, I also grew up with several gay friends and did things socially with them. In one case, I was beaten up because of my friendship. Several of my gay friends attempted to physically abuse me, after some indoctrination, but fortunately I fought them off. I worked at a scout camp (Philmont) and was thrown out of a cabin and ostracized because I was aware of gay activity of some of the scout leaders. I also have a step son who had a youth leader who exposed himself to him and propositioned my stepson. My stepson was bold enough to witness against this guy, and it turned out the guy had abused 18 other kids while he was their basketball coach. The guy went to jail.

    I have had gay adult friends who respected my standards and boundaries and we have a true friendship. So I claim some knowledge and compassion here.

    But for gays to say that they cannot change their behavior and yet want to be on long campouts away from other contact with young children is so totally absurd it is beyond insane. I do mean insane, absurd, stupid, crazy, and really, really, really dumb. And to force a child is truly, truly evil.

    Under the Constitution, we are given the sacred right of association and the ability to set rules for that organization. The Boy Scouts of America has every right and a severe duty to create standards of behavior for their scouts and leaders and to protect them from predators like we have seen with Sandusky. So do gay organizations. They might take a challenge and create their own organization with gay ideals, but should never force or coerce a child. They should never force us to say your lifestyle is acceptable, which I believe this is all about. I suspect that they want to force all to say that the gay lifestyle is not a choice and is therefore acceptable. I cannot do this.

    Simply put, if gay people have no power over their groin, they will have no power over my children. EVER!!!! EVER!!!!!!!!!


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