Scouts address national controversy

For over a century, the Boy Scouts of America has provided a learning experience for boys to be better leaders, positive role models and caring individuals. However, despite these core values of kindness, caring and respect, the organization has not accepted open gays into their club from  the beginning.

Sophomore James Bamber, juniors Erik Mueterthies and Zach Worthington, and senior Josh Carlo are grateful for the years they’ve had in Boy Scouts, but are surprised at the dissonance between the Boy Scouts’ positive teachings and the anti-gay message the organization is sending by keeping a ban on gay participation in the group.

“I have been involved with scouts since I was in first grade,” Mueterthies said. “I believe that same-sex couples should have every right heterosexual couples have. The ban on openly-gay scouts doesn’t line up with my values. Tolerance and acceptance are values taught to people in the scouting program. It’s a shame that the organization itself doesn’t practice them.”

“Tolerance and acceptance are values taught to people in the scouting program. It’s a shame that the organization itself doesn’t practice them.” -Erik Mueterthies

Carlo actively participated in Scouts until he was 14 and did not realize a ban was in place until recently. “This ban does not line up with my views on gay marriage. I did not even know this was a real thing until I was asked to answer questions about it,” Carlo said.

Bamber also has participated in Boy Scouts for many years and disagrees with the ban as well. “This ban on open gays in Boy Scouts doesn’t line up with my values because it doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is. Scouting is a program to develop young leaders and teach boys valuable life lessons and skills. Accepting open gays wouldn’t be a problem in my mind. It would just be giving more people the opportunity to join scouts and benefit from it,” Bamber said.

For Bamber, this issue hits close to home. “My brother is transgender and used to be a lesbian. So, when he was in high school, he worked with GSA and had many friends that were gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual, so I grew up not seeing a difference and not having a handicap that others have,” Bamber said. “They are people too, and are in a lot of cases even cooler and more talented than straight people. We are all one people and should treat each other as one equal people.”Worthington also strongly believes that Boy Scouts should be there for any boy who wants to be involved, regardless of his sexual orientation. “I feel that every boy should be able to join Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts is an amazing thing: it teaches you leadership, teamwork, responsibility. A lot of people think it’s just camping outdoors, but it goes way beyond that,” Worthington said, “There’s financial merit badges that teach you how to manage money, how to run businesses, all sorts of things. So I think if you can let guys get involved that is great. It helps them. It sets a foundation so they can become great men in the world in their future lives.”

However, on this issue, Worthington also acknowledges the religious aspect of the Boy Scout’s decision and offers an explanation of why the ban remains in effect. “What it really boils down to is most people take it the wrong way. They do not understand the whole background of Boy Scouts themselves,” Worthington said. “First off, Boy Scouts is a religious-based organization. I want to set that straight. It’s across the world, but in the U.S., it’s quite commonly a Christian organization. Some churches frown upon or do not accept same-sex relationships.  Quite often the groups are sponsored by churches. That church is the one that most of the Boy Scouts have their religion based in.”

While he recognizes religious concerns, Worthington firmly believes it is important for every man to have access to Boy Scouts. “I don’t think that society should be looking down on Boy Scouts because we don’t accept gays as the ruling is. I feel that if we did, the society, the world would be better off because we would have gentleman of any kind, any sexuality, that are prepared, that are ready and willing to take on a challenge and lead a group of people to get something done,” Worthington said. “Why should we hinder the American society itself when we can supply so many great guys that would be willing to work and lead?”

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