Surviving the World

A Photocomic Education by Dante Shepherd

Lesson #1465 - Working Towards Equality

This was all just one giant long con, wasn't it? Very crafty.

Last week, I tried to comment briefly on the social networks about the Boy Scouts of America announcing that they were upholding their policy of discriminating against gay Scouts and Scout leaders. This is a big issue to me, since I've been involved with Scouting since I was 5 or 6, got my Eagle, worked at a Scout camp for 6 years, and still am involved today - heck, one of the two times I haven't worn the labcoat in STW, I wore my uniform. So the Boy Scouts matters a lot to me, and considering the repeated pounding the BSA has continued to get over the past week, I just wanted to repeat a bit of that here.

Basically, the policy has been stated by the overseeing body. But they do not speak for everyone, it does not reflect on work done by Scouts everywhere, nor is this policy followed everywhere within the BSA. Just like many members of political parties do not follow everything issued by the national chairpersons, or like Catholics do not agree or follow everything that comes from the Vatican. There's a long list (in desperate need of updating) of individual troops/councils that reject or protest the rule, that currently operate with their own non-discrimination policy. When you only hear about what comes from the national office, these other troops and councils are going to be completely ignored in comparison. Scouts returning their Eagle badges may make for sensational news - and may have some effect, considered in total - but isn't going to add up when the national office has taken two years to come to their latest conclusion. Pushing for change - and getting it, to some extent! - from within the BSA is working; it's just not very well-known and will be a slow, long process.

That's tough for some people to hear. Many people believe that separating and leaving the BSA would have far more effect, that's your absence would have more voice. I disagree. By leaving, you are making the group far more insular and less receptive to your voices - a good strategy if the group is small or likely going to fall apart in the immediate future, a poor strategy if it has sustained size. And our efforts within the Scouts is making serious headway. I worked alongside openly gay Scouts, many of whom reached high positions at the camp. The pattern of rejecting the national policy follows geographic patterns that are somewhat familiar, but there is change being made, and I do not expect the policy to last, even if it takes a while longer to correct nationally.

If you disagree with me, I understand. Even my brief comments last week outraged some people enough to the point I was accused by several people who'd never been affiliated in any way with the BSA of promoting a bad organization and of 'tilting at windmills', and when I tried to reason with them, was accused of attacking them. But I hope that in the four years I've been running STW, pushing for non-discrimination and for equality time and time and time again, that you are assured which side of the issue I am on, and that given the determination on the issue I hope I've repeatedly expressed, that you would accept that I would only pursue a path I believed had a good chance of succeeding.

You can change a group by leaving it, letting it die. Or you can change it by remaining with it, working from within. I think the latter will have far more success in achieving equality in the BSA. So don't let generalization cloud great work and tremendous achievements done by many Scouts across the country. That policy is not us.