Friday 20th July 2012

by sophie

When I was a little girl I had two main (American-as-apple-pie) agendas on my wish list: one, to be the proud owner of an American Girl doll, and two, to join the Girl Scout Brownie troup. My mother was a steadfast soldier against both fronts, no matter how much a begged and pleaded and whined, flipping the pages of the beloved catalog and circling favorite items until the staples wore off.

In retrospect, the anti-doll campaign was a pragmatic choice: the overly commercialized dolls were not only pricey, but had a tendency to lead to a sort of give-a-mouse-a-cookie effect (if i had the overpriced doll, surely I would need the overpriced little doll bed to match, and if I had the bed, certainly I would need a matching miniature quilt, and so on…), but I never did find out why she was so anti-Brownies. Maybe it was too establishment for her? Perhaps she was creeped out by religious undertones? Was it a health thing, as everyone knows Cookies are a Sometimes Food™ and selling gallons of Thin Mints would naturally lead to gallons of Thin Mint consumption (those motherf***** are addicting!)? I forgot to ask, and in any case the Girl Scouts have not been on my radar in many, many years. That is, until I saw this article in the nytimes that made me do a double take. And boy, am I glad that I never did get to wear that brown vest now.

The fact that the Boy Scouts actively discriminates against homosexuals is absurd. Scouting was popularized to be a healthy way for young boys to bond over outdoor and athletic activities that strengthened not only muscles but morals. Actively excluding a segment of the human population doesn’t seem like good ethical standards to me. For Pete’s sake, the founder might have actually been a closest queen!

Supporters have cited many “reasons” for the continued exclusion of gays, most of which you can read here (including the official statement by the Boy Scouts). One of the arguments is that sexuality has no place in the program, which is mostly catered for youngsters under twelve. In that case, why the need to discriminate, which, ironically, will be a surefire way to ensure that sex is now on the agenda?

I am fortunate to have grown up in mostly liberal environments and now reside in one of (if not the foremost) LGBT-friendly cities in the world. If I sat down and did a head count, I think I might actually have an equal number of straight and gay/lesbian/bisexual friends in my circle of closest acquaintances. I understand that not everyone is that lucky to be able to say the same, and what seems like common sense to me may be viewed as radical to others. But I am pretty sure that it is universally acknowledged that discrimination is hurtful. Even the littlest of Cub Scouts can vouch to that.

I realize that politics is complicated and that the Church provides much of the funding for the Boy Scout programs, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. Last September, the military finally admitted that its “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” policy was serving no one and abolished it to cheers worldwide. Do we really need to repeat this discussion again, full of harmful stereotypes, in the ears of the children?

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4 Responses to “on the Boy Scouts’ “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy”

  1. Read via twitter– and I agree with most everything here. Except! The Girl Scouts and Brownies are a totally separate org from the BSA, they do support LGBTQ members, and actually get flak from conservative groups for it quite a bit! Here’s one of the first hits for girl scouts position on homosexuality:

    • sbchou says:

      Marilyn– thank you for bringing this to my attention! It’s good to hear. I always assumed they were under the same umbrella.

  2. b says:

    Sophie, you’re such a good writer! I agree with you, it’s definitely saddening how ignorance can be taught.

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