Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Boy Trouble

On Gwen Shaffer's story last week about discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America:

I just read the piece "Needed: a Badge of Courage." I am an Eagle Scout, and was a local scoutmaster from 1999 until earlier this year. I believe the Scouts' stance on homosexual members and leaders is backward.

While I generally agree with what was written, there were four things I found wrong with the article.

First, the Boy Scouts do act like a corporation. The Scouts issue charters to local councils, which then issue charters to local groups desiring to use the program with local youth. The local groups then become the stakeholders, or voting members of the organization.

It's not just about the money. It's about the membership of the Mormon (LDS) and Roman Catholic churches. If the two largest chartering partners were to give their blessing, the issue of gays in scouting could be resolved. The LDS church has already said that if the Scouts changed their policy they would leave the scouting movement and start something like the Royal Rangers. The Royal Rangers are a Scout-like program run by the Assemblies of God churches.

Second, the unnamed source that spoke about the board being replaced is correct, but why did you have to cite an unnamed source? Bill Dwyer has said as much to Scout volunteers. The current board may have done an about-face, but that is probably better than falling on their swords and having a new, more conservative board named to replace them.

Third, while the Cradle of Liberty Council has suffered, other councils have benefited from the Scouts' stand on their principles.

Finally, in a couple of places Shaffer refers to men as "former Eagle Scouts." One is never a "former" Eagle Scout. Once attained, the rank is a lifetime award. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.

BRUCE ANDERSEN
Philadelphia

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