To the Editor:
The other day I encountered a young Cub Scout at Cronig’s Market in Vineyard Haven. He was participating in a fall fundraising project for his local troop. He diligently asked customers as they exited the store if they would make a contribution to his cause. To the right of him, leaning against the stonewall not far from the entrance door, was a woman whom I suspected to be a very dedicated den mother.
This scene reminded me of years ago when I was a member of a Cub Scout troop in western Pennsylvania. Cub Scouting was one of only a few extracurricular organizations in our rural community for kids, and my parents encouraged me to join. I was a member of a pack from first to sixth grade, and I possibly would have continued had there been more local interest after sixth grade.
Much has changed since I was a Cub Scout. For one thing, moral attitudes have changed significantly since the 1970s. Gender and racial equality in our nation has been secured, and we are witnessing a paradigm shift towards full equality for LGBT Americans.
Social progress, however, is often met with staunch resistance from certain cultural institutions, such as the Boy Scouts of America. Unlike the Girl Scouts of America, who have embraced and welcomed diversity within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has publicly planted seeds of discrimination through their policies, denying LGBT kids and adults participation in their organization. Sadly, the harm done to these LGBT kids does not simply end by banning them from becoming members. Through their policies of social apartheid, the Boy Scouts of America harvests crops of intolerance and then feeds their members venomous ideas which often contribute to serious incidents of bullying of LGBT kids in schools. When I was a middle school teacher in a small rural community in southern Delaware, I witnessed this bullying firsthand. Kids certainly do not need adults giving them more pointers on how to improve their cruelty toward one another.
Of course, as a private organization the Boy Scouts of America is fully within its rights to chart whatever kind of course they would like for themselves. Still, I struggle with this notion. To be clear, I would really like to be able to support the Boy Scouts of America. Perhaps one day the Boy Scouts of America will make us all proud by embracing equality for all people. Until that time arrives, I cannot in good conscience give money to an organization which teaches intolerance instead of compassion to children. So for now, I will simply continue to proudly support the Girl Scouts of America and indulge in more Samoas and Tagalongs.
Bryan D. Freehling