What does it mean to be a Boy Scout in 2012?

I can’t believe some of the things I’m reading about the Boy Scouts in recent days. I am not a former Scout myself, though I was a short-time member of what at the time known as the Sea Explorers (now Sea Scouts). However, I think the issues at hand affect us all and the way they are being handled put a huge black mark on the entire Scout movement in the US.

First, this article about sex abuse involving Boy Scout troop leaders in Sonoma County. Quoted in part below:

An Oregon court made public Thursday thousands of pages of confidential records compiled by the Boy Scouts on sex-abuse allegations involving more than 1,200 adult leaders from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. The database, a blacklist known internally as the “perversion files,” contains dossiers on six alleged molesters on the North Coast — four in Sonoma County and two in Mendocino County.


“It’s a double whammy: First that this happened, and then that nothing was done about it,” said Cheney, a deputy with 22 years at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

The story goes on to detail what has been done to keep this from happening again. I’d certainly like to know why someone sat on this for as long as they did. We, the people of decent society, have the right to timely justice.

And then, Ryan Anderssen being denied the Eagle Scout award he earned fair and square, simply because he is gay. Ryan rejoined scouting after dropping out due to bullying due to his sexual orientation. Leaders of his troop encouraged him to come back. And now that he does, it’s the adults in effect doing the bullying by refusing to approve his Eagle Scout award.

This is nothing short of outrageous, and is clearly un-Scout-like and un-American on the part of the local troop and Boy Scouts of America. The BSA enjoys a unique status as one of the few Title 36 Federally chartered organizations. The fact that the BSA’s spokesperson cited a breach of “Duty to God” on Ryan’s part (a stretch at best, and a creative interpretation of the Bible at worst), may very well push the boundaries of church and state. I am disgusted that an organization which claims to be about establishing character in our nation’s youth would discriminate in this fashion. I also believe we don’t need to reference a specific religion to teach values; to keep Title 36 status, the BSA should be required to strike out all references to God and/or the Bible and replace them with what they really mean to say.

As a sidenote, Little League Baseball is also Title 36. If they tried the same thing, the cries of outrage would be deafening from coast to coast. So why is the BSA getting away with it?