Twice in the last week I’ve been asked about the Boy Scouts of America. People want to know if I will be signing my son up in the next year or two, to spend time with other boys, camping, fishing, doing good deeds, and enjoying the camaraderie of boyhood. And they are surprised when my answer is not just no, but hell no.
Surprisingly, many people are not aware that the Boy Scouts have historically discriminated against atheists and gays. I could cite a slew of references here, but it would go on for pages. A simple google search for “boy scouts discriminate” will give you over 825,000 results, many are as recent as the last few weeks. There have been many incidents of atheists not being allowed to enroll, or being dismissed from the Scouts, and the same goes for homosexuals. It’s not just reserved for the scouts themselves, but also the troop leaders. Gay troop leaders have been dismissed as well (a gay father was dismissed in October, right here in Texas).
My husband and I spend a lot of time advocating for our son. As recently as today, we still battle the YMCA to work harder to be inclusive of children with disabilities. We fully support inclusion in school classrooms, to the extent possible. So here is our quandary: how could we possibly fight for inclusion for our son, while enrolling him in a group that is not inclusive?
We can’t, and we won’t. One friend even suggested to me that we lie about being atheists. Now that’s just funny. Why would I lie so our son can infiltrate a group that doesn’t want our kind, or other kinds, to join in the first place? Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? My friend couldn’t understand how I could deny my son the option to join the group, if he was interested. Regardless of our belief, or non-belief, why would I want to allow my son to join a group that excludes others? A group that is meant to support and represent the community, denies valued members of their community based on their divisive criteria. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Even if I was, gasp, religious, I would still reject them.
So take that, Boy Scouts, I reject YOU!
We will never stop advocating for our son, and for integration and inclusion in general. And if the subject of the Boy Scouts ever arises, we will calmly explain it to my son. I’m pretty sure he won’t be interested in joining a group that would not allow his daddy to be a troop leader.