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What Boy Scouts Can Learn from Girl Scouts

Discussion in 'Off Topic Debates' started by Terry Allan Hall, Jul 23, 2012.

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  1. Terry Allan Hall

    Terry Allan Hall Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Been proudly involved with the Boy Scouts of America since 1963, currently an Asst. Scout Master, but I have to salute the Girl Scouts of American on this matter, and I hope the BSA catchs up.

    What Boy Scouts Can Learn from Girl Scouts
    Written by Rebecca Nelson

    Building campfires, earning merit badges, selling cookies and dodging political controversies–Boy and Girl Scouts need to be prepared.

    Though the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts came from similar origins, they’ve had a century to grow apart ideologically. As far as inclusion and acceptance goes, Boy Scouts fall far behind the girls. In their latest throwback to a more prejudiced time, the Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that, after a secretive two-year review, it will continue a long-standing policy of discrimination against gay troop leaders and members. The BSA’s gay ban was legally protected by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2000 decision Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.

    Troop leaders and members across the country hoped for a change in policy, but the organization reiterated that exclusion is “the best policy for the organization.”

    The Boy Scouts could learn a thing or two from the Girl Scouts.

    Last year, a Girl Scout troop in Colorado accepted a 7-year-old transgendered child, despite attacks (and a cookie boycott) from right-wing activists. Although the GSA’s official position [PDF] on sexual orientation is vague, they “do not discriminate on any basis” and don’t allow advocacy for any one lifestyle or sexual orientation.

    The BSA isn’t just anti-gay; it has a religious bias as well. In the early ’90s, the organization banned atheists and agnostics because the Boy Scout pledge requires scouts to “do [their] duty to God.” In a May interview with the Sacramento Bee, BSA spokesperson Deron Smith made it clear that policy is still in effect:

    Smith said that belief in God is a foundation of Boy Scouts and that ‘no one can reach their full potential without belief in a higher power.’ All members must abide by those principles, he said.

    The GSA, on the other hand, allows girls to pledge “to serve God” or Buddha or Allah or no one at all. Though the official Scout oath includes the word God, a Girl Scout can substitute another word that fits her spiritual beliefs.

    Such commitment to diversity opens the organization up to conservative criticism. Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) refused to support an Indiana House of Representatives resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts earlier this year because of its “radical policies” that promote homosexuality and abortion.

    For the 59 million American women who have participated in Girl Scouts, it’s gratifying to follow the organization’s progressive stance. In my troop, Troop 1139, we were a mix of races and religions. We didn’t discuss sexual orientation while we made song books, but I’m sure we would have welcomed anyone into our circle.

    On the other hand, the official views of BSA haven’t evolved much since 1910–though Boy Scouts themselves probably have. A Scout who is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent (all required attributes, according to the Boy Scout Law) would certainly accept a gay or atheist person into his organization.

    Indeed, there are grassroots groups that resist the Boy Scout’s top leadership, such as Scouts for Equality–a group of Eagle Scouts committed to ending the ban on gays. Furthermore, two BSA executive board members have publicly denounced the ban and say they will try to end it from within the organization.

    The core principles of Boy Scouts show its good intentions, and most members have had invaluable experiences in their troops. But the leadership, which has a strong partnership with the Mormon Church and other religious organizations, is clearly out of touch with modern society.

    We can only hope that in the next century of scouting, the Boy Scouts can earn a badge the Girl Scouts have already ironed on their sashes: one for acceptance.
    http://www.care2.com/causes/what-boy-scouts-can-learn-from-girl-scouts.html#ixzz21RqfowKf
  2. Tillasaurus

    Tillasaurus Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for sharing. It's a good article.
  3. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    While I do not disagree, the reality is that both programs are hurting for membership, money, and volunteers- as so many other programs are nowadays, even before the economy took a dive.

    The BSA's main support (membership. money, and leadership) now is from the Mormon and Catholic churches, as well as some other rather conservative churches, and they cannot risk this support base, even though many of the 'rank and file' members would support diversity.

    We see this problem not only in gender issues, but also in faith issues where they do not willingly admit atheists or members of groups such as wiccans.

    Even though I am a long-time supporter of the BSA, I have thought for over a decade that it was time for the BSA and GSUSA to effectively merge into one strong organization dedicated to helping all youth become the best they can be.

    I also think it is important to remember that it is not the rank and file youth and adults who are 'the bad guys' here. Scouting- Boy and Girl- does a lot of good for the kids and the communities and I hate to think that they are getting flack because a bunch of deeply invested leaders are making what many of us consider to be poor policies.
  4. Jacqui

    Jacqui Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    Interesting read and things I had not thought about before. I was never a girl scout, I was a camp fire girl all the way, but my sister was a girl scout and my brother a boy scout.
  5. Ethan D

    Ethan D New Member 5 Year Member

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    i remember hearing about this on the philip de franco show on youtube, but interesting article, hopefully they will soon catch up :D
  6. Terry Allan Hall

    Terry Allan Hall Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Merging the two groups is an excellent idea, although there'll be factions horrified by the idea.
  7. CourtneyAndCarl

    CourtneyAndCarl Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I was a girl scout for two years until I found out we didn't get to go camping, so I quit :p I always thought the boy scouts had more fun, anyways.

    This is a big issue, though, and I can definitely see where the BSA could learn a few things from the Girl Scouts. Saying that they have to pledge to god is ruling out anyone of ANY faith, except Christianity and Judaism. Apparently being Buddhist, Islamic, or Hindu automatically rules you out for being an upstanding citizen.
  8. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I am active in, and a product of, the BSA program as well as belonging to the Mormon church (One of the biggest supporters of the BSA), and I do agree that the BSA program has a long way to go to be more accepting of other "ways of life" for lack of a better phrase. The world is a lot different than it was when the BSA was founded, and the issues discussed above really need to be reconsidered by the powers that be.

    While I have my own views on homosexuality, and certainly not wanting to engage in any type of debate about the subject, I will say that denying people involvement in a program like the BSA, really is a disservice to society. The BSA and GSA are great programs. I really hate to see someone rejected from these programs for whatever reason. They really are life changing and shaping programs, I know I'd be a different person if it weren't for the BSA.
  9. Terry Allan Hall

    Terry Allan Hall Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Well said![hr]
    Moslems worship the same "God" as the Christians and Jews do. I believe Hindus and Buddhists are still allowed to be members, but atheists and agnostics are not...never got any hassle about practicing The Old Faith, but then I also keep it on the downlow, as we have a lot of Fundamentalist Baptists in the troop I belong to, and many of their parents aren't terribly open-minded.
  10. chairman

    chairman Active Member 5 Year Member

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    +1 Neal, Terry.

    I find it more than a little ironic that it is possible to earn a God and Country Award in scouts from religious groups that not only accept homeosexuals, but accept them in the ministry.

    I earned my Eagle with a scout who was an atheist and another that came out of the closet years afterward. I don't feel that my award is the least bit diminished by their achievement; they were both good scouts. I was much better at knot typing, but they were both good scouts. :)

    That being said, Girl Scouts has a lot to learn from the BSA. The Boy Scout model of mixing all the boys 12+ together, allowing them to lead one another, become mentors for one another, participate in activities, etc is far superior to GSA's partitioning of the age groups, restriction of leadership opportunities, and the extreme restrictions on allowable activities. GSUSA would be a much better organization if it were a youth organization (like BSA) rather than an adult-led organization for youth.
  11. CourtneyAndCarl

    CourtneyAndCarl Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Persay the article, they are quite concerned about "god" being a part of it, and technically speaking, Buddhists are atheists. And Hindus certainly don't believe in "god", even if Jesus is a reincarnation of Vishnu in most modern Hindu belief systems
  12. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Wow, I have to say that in a couple of situations I am old school. If my son signs up for the Boy Scouts I do not want the troops led "soleley" by someone that is of different spiritual beliefs than our household, nor do I want the troops led "solely" by a gay man...now, do I want a troop member to my son to be transgender, no I absolutely do not....before I get jumped on (which I am sure I will anyway because this is not "with the times" thinking)...this is my choice....

    I am an accepting woman, however, it is my right to accept or to reject and I am the one that should, could and will decide this. The problem comes into play when it is forced upon us to accept behavior and beliefs not unto my own....

    The reason I feel this way is this; my son is impressionable and because of this I feel that it is my desire and my place to introduce my son to the various life topics as I see appropriate and based on his age, the setting of the conversation and about a million other factors....so, I know that people with different beliefs than myself on spiritual matters, sexual matters, political matters, ethical matters and a bunch of other matters will use different words and share different opinions and offer different examples as well as offer acceptance of things I may not want to teach my child until appropriate (my definition as his mother to what is ok and when) for his age, acceptance and understanding of the diversity of the world and his frame of mind....

    Now, do I have an issue with a person that has different spiritual beliefs than I, no--I as an adult do not. Do I have an issue with a gay man or woman, no--I as an adult to not. But we are speaking here of very young children groups all of the way through very confusing and impressionable age groups to reach Eagle Scout graduation....
  13. Tillasaurus

    Tillasaurus Member 5 Year Member

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    Does your son go to school or is he home schooled?
  14. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    If the boy scouts can exclude girls, why not gay, atheist and agnostics?
  15. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    LOL...you are funny, he does go to public school, a very desirable school---it is actually a charter school that is publicly funded and privately ran and has focus on science and is a NASA sponsored school.
  16. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    I personally think the BSA needs to do two big things before they accept homosexual leaders, and they are already pretty much doing one of them.

    1. Reinforce the Youth Protection Policies- bring parents in on them, make them big and visible. Make sure everyone knows what they are and how they work. As part of this, however, start really TEACHING what the difference between a pedophile (someone aroused by pre-pubescent children) and a homosexual (someone aroused by a post-pubescent member of their gender) is. I think lots of the resistance to gay leaders is a belief that gays are more likely to be pedophiles than a straight person.

    2. Institute a policy of 'Don't Show'. Our youth, in the BSA or GSUSA, should NOT be able to determine what your orientation is by the way you act routinely around them- whether it is straight or gay. No public displays of affection with your significant other in front of the kids, etc. I am not saying 'act straight', I am saying 'act asexual' to ALL leaders.

    My reason for #2 is that, as they have said all along, the BSA or GSUSA is NOT about teaching sexuality, and part of leadership is being a role model. Sexuality should just not be a part of the role model in ANY youth program.[hr]
    Besides ther couple dozen Christian awards, there are awards Scouts can earn for...
    - Baha'i (Unity of Mankind),
    - Buddhist (Sangha),
    - Hindu (Dharma),
    - Islamic (In the Name of God),
    - Jewish (Ner Tamid),
    - Meher Baba (Compassionate Father),
    - Unity (Light of God), and
    - Zoroasterian (Good Life)

    I have heard conflicting stories about things like Wicca- one of course is that the BSA does not want them, but another is actually more likely. You see, the BSA does not create, make, or set the standards for these awards. In many cases, ANY youth can earn them. The key is that the religious organization has to set the standards, provide the materials and awards, etc. Wicca has yet, based on this version of the story, to do this.

    The BSA is also pretty clear that the Scout gets to define what 'God' means. Almost anything they print on the topic includes the lines "The Boy Scouts of America does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion. Membership in a religious organization is not required."
  17. Terry Allan Hall

    Terry Allan Hall Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Where did you get the idea that all Buddhist are atheists? Most are actually not, at all. Same way w/ Hindus, in that they consider all gods/goddesses to be manifestations of One God.

    Both are faiths that most mono-theists never bother to learn much about, relying instead on what someone else, who knows nothing more than they, themselves, do, tells them to think.

    But that's another debate.
  18. Angi

    Angi Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I think they should be able to include or exclude gays if the want. If my son wanted to join a club with a gay leader I would not care at all, but I don't think anyone should judge the BSA for sticking to what they belive. I also don't think The BSA and GSA should merg. The boys should keep their club and the girls theirs.. BTW my son thought the BSA were boring. I liked the group he was with so pushed him to stay in for a year and a half.
    I heard something funny on one of the late night comedy talk shows. Rude but funny...I can't even remember who said it but here goes"The only thing gayer than being gay is being a gay boy scout" I don't have ANYTHING against gays or boy scout but I thought that was funny
  19. expo tort

    expo tort Member 5 Year Member

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    I don't support the gay exclusion but don't put down the mormon church and people their people their just supporting there interpretation of the bible but you must remember the catholic and christian churches which have boy scout troops are excluding too. And any way the courts said that they were considered a private organization which means they can chose to deny membership to anyone. Also this is like companies not hiring felons because of their record. I do go to a boy scout troop in an lds church so I am a little bias.
  20. Tillasaurus

    Tillasaurus Member 5 Year Member

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    Felons?
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