“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.”
That’s the Scout Oath of the Boy Scouts of America. That’s all well and good, but the words at the very end of that quote, “morally straight”, are beginning to ring hollow in light of recent events.
This past week, a Boy Scout troop, hosted by a church in Seattle, had it’s charter taken away by the BSA foundation. Why? Because after learning that the leader of the troop, Geoff McGrath, was gay, the troop refused to get rid of him, as the BSA demanded.
Last month, after learning of McGrath’s sexuality, the BSA removed his registration from the organization. In a statement to the press, they claimed McGrath was “deliberately injecting” his sexuality into his role as scout master. His scouts had known of his sexuality when he was appointed, and stood behind him. The members were given the opportunity to transfer to a different troop, but they decided to show support and continued to meet as a troop under McGrath.
The BSA has told the troop that they can no longer wear the official Boy Scout uniform or use the trademarked name in any way, but the scouts have decided to continue meeting, regardless of their status within the organization.
I think the Boy Scouts organization does some things really well. They provide opportunities for young men to explore the outdoors and develop skills, as well as instill a sense of responsibility and honor. I was a Cub Scout for a few years in elementary school, and I remember the experience as a fun adventure, making new friends and learning new things. For some children, the Boy Scouts plays a large role in what type of young men they will grow up to be.
That being said, the behavior of the association is concerning, to say the least. This is the same organization that only last May finally allowed gay scouts to become members of troops (after a number of corporate partners withdrew support from the BSA). If the Boy Scouts help to shape the future of some youths in this nation, aren’t they teaching those young children that discrimination is acceptable?
I’ll point out that McGrath has been together with his partner for two decades, and in all accounts, is a stand-up citizen, volunteering his time and effort into guiding the next generation. In another statement to CNN, the BSA said that they don’t believe that “the topic of sexual orientation plays a role in Scouting.
I agree. Scouting should not be about sexuality. Scouting should be about the scouts, their future and their learning. But it’s a shame that an organization, which has the potential to give so much to our youth, is contributing to the already rampant discrimination in our country, rather than contributing to a solution of acceptance.