I worked really hard at raising my son…in-fact I made a lot of sacrifices so that my son could have a fairly mentally, emotionally, and financially balanced life. One of the things we did together was Boy Scouts. I often was empowered to express my rather feminist point of view as a Boy Scout leader. I was female bodied but just as able and sometimes better at tasks traditionally assigned to men. Often there were women that were also doing this. In-fact most of the leadership trainings I attended were more than 50% female. Maybe it was just a local thing but from my perspective it was fascinating, when I first went I completed expected something else. I worked very closely with another mother and the two of us lead a group of about 40 cub scouts and than later about 15 boy scouts. Cub Scout leaders were certainly a higher percentage of women but once you got to the older boys there were more men leaders. For me though, it never really mattered. This was a journey for my son and I – because – simply – we both enjoyed the activities, focus, and even the traditions. We loved camping together, hiking, learning new skills, and the variety of activities. We loved going to reservation camp where we bonded with our closest friends. He bonded with the other scouts and I bonded with the leaders – and often we even all bonded together as a group. It was really a fantastic experience.
I even pursued some intense leadership training, called Woodbadge. For those scout leaders out there that know what it is, I was a Bob White. For those that don’t – simply its kind of like the “Eagle” for leaders. Its a special award and it involves changing our tactics and helping to problem solve and revolutionalize troops around the country. I value this training as it taught me intense leadership training along with skills to change groups I am involved with. Skills not everyone has but most would value. I find the lessons I learned in being a Woodbadger are priceless, much like most Eagle Scouts would say.
An interesting perspective that Woodbadge gave to me was BSA’s stance on homosexuality and the lgbt community as a whole. I was in scouts right before they announced their “ban” on “gays in scouting” – in fact its the main reason we left. Both my son and I were both queer. I remember, during the Woodbadge training attended by approximately 100 adult leaders from within a few hours of the area, they asked a few questions and they wanted a show of hands on some subjects. Among some other rather technical questions was “Would you remove yourself from Boy Scouts if gays were welcomed to participate in scouting?” and about 50% of the room raised their hands. I found it interesting that just a few months later they announced that they would NOT change their stance on “gays in scouting”. I was not surprised when they continued their ban, simply they had the potential to lose 50% of their leadership population in a group that was regularly already short handed. Essentially it would end BSA – from their perspectives. I heard about their stance before they announced it, they warned all of us leaders what they were going to say. Someone in a “round table” meeting said something about “in case you have gay youth or adults in your group, its better to keep with the don’t ask don’t tell the military uses” I heard this and it just made my stomach turn…. as much as both my son and I were so passionately in love with scouting we could not allow this to hold us back. We had to leave – to be us – to consider ourselves – to support the ones we love if nothing else. It compromised our values and we soon left.
Today I read this article and I smiled. I knew Boy Scouts would come around once more of the general adult parent population was open to “gays in scouting”. When it doesn’t matter so much who you love but THAT you love… I knew it was just a matter of time just like when they had segregated scout troops and there was even a time where no blacks were allowed in scouting at all. Now we can’t imagine it…. I know its slow but I just knew they would come around, but maybe you had to know them as intimately as we did. Maybe someday I can display my Woodbadge award proudly again….
Ohhh Boy Scouts of America – I am so proud of you, you provide me with a sense of hope that maybe humanity will evolve, maybe we aren’t all doomed to just kill each other off. Love is overcoming!
News Article Ban on Gays May Be Lifted by Boy Scouts