. . . friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." Full disclosure: I have never liked the Boy Scouts. Many years ago I joined the Cub Scouts, mostly to get the blue-and-gold uniform so I could reenact western cavalry campaigns in the back yard. I was an indifferent scout, forever behind in the pursuit of my next badge or arrowhead. Born during World War II, I found the image of smiling blond adolescents and their adult leaders espousing the strenuous life, dressed in uniforms that featured short pants and chest medals, frightening even then. Anyway, my mother was hardly the den mother type, so I always had to go to meetings in other boys’ basements.
Later, when I published a newspaper in rural Pennsylvania, the Boy Scouts were a constant thorn, demanding coverage but refusing to recruit minority members – even after the United Way defunded them for discrimination. The Girl Scouts, by contrast, reached out to everyone, eagerly seeking Spanish-speaking members among the growing population of migrant workers.
Yesterday’s reports that the Boy Scouts are considering lifting their longtime ban against gays seem suspect. Under intense corporate pressure (UPS threatens to stop its funding; the Family Research Council counter-threatens to boycott UPS), the Scouts appear ready to punt on a national policy change and kick the issue to the local level. It’s time for an organization that suppressed thousands of internal files documenting decades of sexual abuse to clean up its act and open its doors.