Boy Scouts' anti-gay stance pains many
The Kansas City Star
I’m not gay. I have no reason to think my boys are either.
So we get to choose to stay in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
But it’s maddening how difficult that choice has become.
It’s hard because I struggle to reconcile the choice Scouting is forcing on those many boys and young men in our ranks who are gay, whether they have told us or not.
Should I walk away from this?
I was 12, paddling a canoe with my troop out to an island in a Texas lake when Scouting gave me my first night sleeping under an unbroken sky of stars.
I was 15 when I carried my backpack and my growing courage into the mountains of Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. As much as the grand experiences there I remember the evening I managed to spark and nurture a cooking fire through a rainstorm.
I remember the deep red sky that gilded our campsite as my hiking mates ate their hot dinners in the after-storm calm.
I remember the deep friendships I made, growing up together.
I was a senior patrol leader, a teenager in charge of a troop of some 30 scouts – a duty I wouldn’t have imagined for myself if Scouting hadn’t brought me there.
I am an Eagle Scout. A member of the Order of the Arrow.
Now I am a Cub Scout den leader, just returned from Webelos Camp at Camp Naish in Bonner Springs with a jovial group of parents and scouts strongly bonded in friendship.
But, taking two years to contemplate its position, Scouting has freshly reaffirmed its policy — to deny and revoke the membership of any scout or adult leader who is gay.
This policy is odious to me.
I think it is destructive. It is hateful. It feeds wrongful fear.
I think of 19-year-old Eric Jones of Kearney, Mo. – a young adult leader who grew up in Scouting. I’m sure he has his own treasured experiences, like mine, through Scouting. He was carrying on the ideals of Scouting as a summer camp counselor.
I think of the camp leader after Jones made it known that he was gay. By Jones’s account, the camp leader was pained and regretful when he kicked him out, acquiescing to Scouting’s brutal edict, knowing he was expelling a loving, dedicated scout.
I worry about boys who have not grown as self-assured as Jones, who have passed through adolescence during their scouting career aware that they were gay and hid it, feeling shameful.
Feeling the dark scorn of discrimination.
What do I do?
I could let out a cry from my small mountaintop and walk away, disassociating myself in protest.
Or I could keep my treasured friendships – and let my boys keep their friendships – and anchor myself to all the good things Scouting has meant to me as my platform to urge my fellow scouts in thoughtful consideration to try to right this wrong.
I know I’m not alone.
If Scouting will have me, I stand here as one of your members, joining my voice to the chorus.
Let’s shed these insidious fears.
Stop the pain and love each other.
To reach Joe Robertson, call 816-234-4789 or send email to email@example.com