Thursday, June 27, 2013

There Is No Sex In Scouting

I've been thinking this one through for days, weeks, even, so my writing it on the day after the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act is purely coincidental.  Happily coincidental, but purely so.

A few weeks or whatever ago, I was walking the dogs back up the hill while perusing the headlines of the local paper (our house is at the top of a hill; our mailbox at the bottom).  A little blurb in the upper right hand corner of the front page read something like, "Scouts Allow Gays."  Well, hooray, I thought.  Finally a bit of common sense.  Then, when I got inside, I opened the paper and read the article, which said not that the Boy Scouts of America were allowing gay troop leaders, but that they were allowing gay scouts.  And I was all, huh?

It never occurred to me that the BSA would have concerned themselves for so much as a single moment about the sexual orientation of their scouts.  I thought it was bad enough they were worried about the orientation of their scout leaders: it seemed to buy into the crazy belief that gay equaled pedophile, which for the life of me I've never understood.  But this--picture a little kindergartner in Cub Scouts, making a car for the Pinewood Derby.  Going camping in a tent.  Having a blast with his friends.  Now picture the same child at age 8-10-12--whatever--suddenly understanding that he doesn't feel about girls the same way his friends do.  At this point the kid has two choices: 1) hide the fact that he's gay, and feel ashamed; 2) tell people, and get kicked out of scouting.  Hello? 

I was a Girl Scout for nine years and we never had this sort of insanity.  I've checked, and the Girl Scouts have never had a rule about any scout or leader's sexuality, because there's no sex in scouting.  We were too young for it, and also, too busy.  We were camping and learning how to start fires and riding horses (oh, how I loved Girl Scouts!) and doing crafts and singing Christmas carols for creepy old people in nursing homes.  I had a very active scout troop in middle school.  It's quite possible some of my fellow scouts or some of the leaders were lesbians.  I'd never know.  (I can't remember the names or faces of any of our assistant leaders, sorry.  Our main leader was Mrs. Schneider.  I didn't love her--she wasn't very approachable--but I really liked how often she took us camping.)  Scouting was about scouting.

Right now I'm troop leader of a pony club--pony club, like scouts, is an international youth organization with lots and lots of rules.  None of them concern sexuality.  Why not?  Because there's no sex in pony club.  We don't have time for that.  I just got back from a rally in which my team finished first in horse management, no small feat.  They worked hard all day, every day, from the barns opening at 6 am til closing at 6 or 7 pm, at which time we'd eat, shower, and fall exhausted into sleep.  In fact, the only time I've ever had the tiniest bit of trouble regarding sex and pony club was on a drive to a rally when one of our college-age heterosexual members decided to discuss her boyfriend.  No one wanted to hear about it, so she shut up.

So, c'mon, Boy Scouts, give it a rest.  Quit looking like fear-mongering bigots.  Teach some kids how to start a fire.  Make them hike uphill a couple miles, pitch their own tents, cook their own meals.  Nobody has to worry about sex.  They'll all be too tired for that.