Monday, June 11, 2012

The Yellow Badge of Homophobia

The Boy Scouts controversy hit close to home this week. The leftist Northern California pack that Oscar belongs to doesn't follow the ban against gays but still almost every family is conflicted about joining a group with such an odious policy. We still like the camp outs, the fire pits, and the marshmallows. The pack leaders decided to make a stand and draft a statement rejecting the national anti gay ban. One father of a Tiger Cub who happens to be a big ex-Marine wrote a long email defending it, claiming that a private Christian organization can do whatever it wants and that the Scouts were no place to have a political fight. That didn't go over too well. The emails have been flying ever since. The Marine was going to be the pack leader next year but all the gay stuff is making him pull out. Our other candidate is a lesbian!

Here’s the slightly overwrought letter I wrote to the president of the Boy Scouts of America.

Mr. Wayne Perry
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75038-3008

Dear Mr. Perry,

I am writing as the father of a Webelo in pack 274 in Oakland, California. I have been following the news about the BSA's ban on gay scout leaders and the resolution under consideration to end it. My wife and were conflicted about letting our son join the scouts because of this ban but we weighed the positive aspects of scouting, judged the local pack to be non-discriminatory, and decided to  join in spite of it. Now that there's an opportunity for change I urge you to support it.

In America we have a history of exclusionary practices by businesses and organizations. It was once considered acceptable for whole cities to redline neighborhoods to keep minorities out. Sports clubs often excluded jews and blacks. In the deep south you can still find private "supper clubs" that are "members only" but the rule is only applied when black patrons try to enter. Today all but the most bigoted would consider those actions to be shameful. It's sad to think of the Boy Scouts in such company but in time it's certain to be how groups with such policies as the gay ban will be viewed.

Today gay people are becoming fully integrated into every aspect of society. It's no longer necessary for gay athletes, entertainers, and political leaders to be "in the closet." Our children are familiar with families that have two mommies or two daddies. They don't judge it negatively unless they are taught to do so. Do we want the Boy Scouts to teach our sons that gay people less entitled to the rights and privileges that heterosexuals enjoy and that it's okay to discriminate against them?

I know as the president you cannot change the rules autonomously but your role gives you influence--and it's time to exert it. This issue provides an opportunity for the Boy Scouts to define itself as a leader in civil rights instead of a laggard. Please make the right choice and move the organization forward.

Lloyd Dangle


  1. Well said, Mr. Dangle, and I agree wholeheartedly. I share your "conflictedness" about being a member of a group that has a great deal of value and benefits but also has policies that quite plainly render it a bigoted entity. Should my sense of ethics preclude me from joining such an organization? Or should I join and then attempt to persuade it to change its policies? And if I do join, should I refrain from labeling it as "bigoted," out of civility, or should I be unabashed about calling it as I see it? I've been pondering this issue for the last week or so with respect to a different religious-type organization when I came across this post. Let me know when you figure out the universal answers to navigating such a quandary.