About a year ago my son declared that if he decided to marry another boy they could just have his sister help them have a baby. Today, he proclaimed that he was excited to start Cub Scouts this year and that he would definitely go all the way to being an Eagle Scout.
If you’ve been following the news lately you know that these two positions aren’t really compatible. I’ve never been a big fan of the Boy Scouts (or really any other group, but that’s a different story). I’m not sure how Post-Nazi era any psuedo-para-military group for boys could choose brown shirts without you know, blushing a little.
Yet my daughter LOVES Girl Scouts and my son has looked forward to being able to join his own group. There’s a part of me that knows I shouldn’t let him join. Earlier this year I stopped him (at least temporarily) from taking up tackle football because I don’t know if it would be good for him or not.
Joining a group that discriminates against people cannot be good for my son. Except that their discriminatory policies are not the totality of Boy Scouts. I’ve seen what Girl Scouts has done for my daughter and I have no doubt that being a part of Boy Scouts would be equally good for my son.
When I was growing up we were not allowed to eat Nestlé products because they promoted formula instead of breast feeding in African countries without clean water. We did not eat grapes or lettuce because of, um, I’m not sure, it had to do with Cesar Chavez though. I was raised to believe in the power of a boycott, that your money should always follow your values. Certainly, your parenting should follow your values as well?
Yet, I live in Oak Park, a suburb so liberal even the expressway exits left. A man I like leads a local boy scout troop. I’ve been told that local troops are not tightly tied to the national organization and that very little dues money goes to the organization as a whole. I’m pretty sure that the local troops do not discriminate.
I have seen multiple Facebook posts over the past few days from people musing about starting their own “boy scout like group.” That’s great and I respect and admire them for it. I do not have the patience or time to start a new scouting group. I barely have the patience and time to be the mother of someone in a scouting group. What’s more, my son doesn’t want to be part of an alternative group.
He doesn’t want to sit around with a bunch of other well meaning liberal moms and kids. He wants a uniform and badges and camping trips. He wants a father/son overnight at the planetarium and to feel like he’s part of something bigger than Oak Park. I know there are a lot of gay kids and sons of gay parents out there who want that, too and it makes me furious that they are denied that opportunity.
But does that mean that I also have to deny the opportunity to my son? My son does not know the word “gay.” He knows that some of his uncles are married to each other. He knows that one of his uncles is married to another man and is the father of three boys. He does not know yet that this is a problem for some people.
How do I tell him that he can’t be a part of something fun and positive because some people are hateful? How would I possibly explain this discrimination?
But let’s say he is in fact gay. How will I explain to him when he’s 16 and kicked out of Eagle Scouts that, “Yes, I did know this could happen, but you know, I decided to give your time and my money to a group that hates you”?
My husband and I have not yet decided what to do. What would you do?