The decision recently of a number of Eagle Scouts to return their merit badges to the National Council in protest over the recent decision not to allow gays into the Boy Scouts of America has drawn considerable attention. A recent story in Huffington Post begins with the following paragraph:
A letter penned by a former Eagle Scout who returned his badge to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in an act of protest against the organization’s decision to uphold its anti-gay policy is going viral in the blogosphere.
This is indeed a big deal. The scout in question, Martin Cizman is only one of a growing number of Eagle Scouts who are returning their badges. As a former scout who never made it to that level of scouting I recall how difficult it was and how many years it took to attain the heights of Eagle Scout and I respect the principles of those who are returning their badges and in effect turning their backs on an organization that has acted with a closed mind and narrow vision.
In this day and age, when even the armed forces recognize the rights of gay people to participate it is reactionary nonsense for any organization to deny the rights of any young man or woman to join and participate with his or her friends.
It is also interesting to see that a number of blogs, including one called “Scouting For All,” have appeared discouraging the scouts from returning their badges because, it is felt, it will do no good whatever. As the source mentioned put it, “We believe that the BSA officials don’t deserve them because they promote a policy of discrimination and likely would not even care if they received them.” Apparently the minds of those who run the organization are closed to what they apparently regard as sexual deviation and they are unaware that this is the 21st Century and that sort of bigotry is no longer the order of the day. In fact, the number of young men joining the Boy Scouts is lessening and one wonder if the narrowness of vision of the leadership might not be a large part of the reason for this phenomenon.
As Martin Cizman noted in his letter to the BSA National Office, “A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting,” . . . “I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance.”
I am one who is quick to point out the foibles of my fellow humans, I must be equally quick to note the good things that we also do from time to time. And this is certainly one of those times. Acting on a sound moral principle to take to task an organization that preaches that its boys be “morally straight” [their words, not mine], is worthy of a loud Hurrah! Well done Martin and friends.