There is no way to explain the impact that Scouting has had on my life. Probably the simplest is the Scout Law:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean & Reverent
There is not a day of my life that that hasn't rattled through my head.
This past June I resigned from the Los Angeles Council Board – Membership Standards was a significant part of this decision for me. Almost every Scouting function I attended included a discussion on Membership Standards, ranging from the official discussion of "National Policy" to sidebars on "the Gay issue". From my perspective the arguments against inclusion (changing policy) boiled down to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear that Scouting's religious base would leave the organization, fear that gay Scouts would somehow infect others, etc… At some point I would interject with a:
- "Do you think that the policy is effective and 'protecting' from [insert fear point]?", or
- "Do you believe that this policy is keeping Gay Youth or Adults out?"
In my experience some of the most dedicated, passionate professional employees and volunteers that I have ever met are Gay/Lesbian. It infuriates me that in order to stay involved they have to pretend to be something else, and hope that they are never found out.
January 1st brought a significant change to Scouting. No longer will a Scout be disqualified on the basis of sexual orientation. This is a long overdue and needed change to the program, and what I hope is just the first step in the removal of membership standards based on sexual orientation. Wouldn't it be nice if newly minted Eagle Scouts could be involved past the age of 18?