Friday, July 27, 2012

The Badge of Inequality


To: Bob Mazuca, Chief Scout Executive and BSA National Executive Board
From:  Robert Paxton, Eagle Scout, Senior Patrol Leader in Troop 409, Wausau, WI
            Brotherhood Member in Order of the Arrow
Dated:  July 23, 2012
“Today, I’m returning my Eagle Scout as it has become a badge of shame. Until the day comes that the Boy Scouts of America fully act out their instruction to be “morally straight” – and to welcome all boys – I can only recommend that the boys go elsewhere for those powerful formative experiences. “

Other Protests Against BSA Policy of Banning Homosexual Leaders & Scouts
Not only are gays protesting the Boy Scouts of America’s policy announced two weeks ago, but straight former Eagle Scout Martin Cizmar of Portland, returned his Eagle Scout badge to the BSA National Council after it expelled nineteen year-old Eagle Scout Eric Jones, who admitted he was gay, from his camp counselor job. Organizations such as the Armed Forces’ Out Service, and Legal Defense Network (SLDN) are urging Boy Scouts to abandon their policy.

Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin said “The Boys Scouts of America, with 2.7 million youth members, has missed a great opportunity of colossal proportions. These adults could have taught the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”(http://"Boyscouts are Out of Step," Gayagenda.com, 25 Jul 2012).

Lesbian Mother and Tiger Scout Den Leader Ousted from BSA

Jennifer Tyrell, lesbian mother of four from Bridgeport, Ohio was fired from her position as Den Leader of her son Colin’s Tiger Scout troop. Both were devastated. Gathering signatures for reinstatement, she is trying to petition the Boy Scout Headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

Girl Scouts Don’t Discriminate

Girl Scouts of America’s Position Statement: We recognize the basic human rights of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendering individuals. All citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have the rights to housing, employment and to be free from violence and harassment. 

This means that if Jennifer Tyrell had been a Girl Scout Leader, her leadership would have remained. I know as co-leader of Honor Troop #2220 in a New York City suburb that it is hard to find parents, whether working or just over-scheduled, to volunteer as Troop heads. When someone good wants to lead, grab her and reward, not punish her, for giving your children character.

In Step with Modern Society: “Semper Paratus” Unlike the Boy Scouts

During our tenure as Scout Leaders, from elementary school grades 1 to 5, we not only built “box ovens,” camped, and filled Christmas goody bags for the local nursing home, we dealt with some heavy issues.  Parents of two scouts went to jail for drug possession and embezzlement. One scout’s mother died prematurely.

What Scouting Can Provide

The Troop disbanded due to pubescent interests, but two of my scouts soldiered on in another troop to win their Gold Awards. We, their former leaders, bursting with pride, were at the ceremony with the County Legislator and others. I saw early on that one scout was an academic whiz. She earned a scholarship to Dartmouth College. The other Gold Award recipient had the gumption in grade school to ask local resident Hillary Clinton to buy Girl Scout cookies, earning her a spot on a Morning Talk Show.

My co-leader and I hosted a barbecue before our former Girl Scout Troop went off to college.  We were in the company of fine, accomplished women. While their parents can rightfully take much credit for their development, I like to think that scouting in their formative years contributed to building them as moral accountable citizens.