The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In this century of existence, countless boys have learned skills to enjoy the outdoors, a worthy goal if there ever was one. Unfortunately, they have also learned much more sinister lessons as well. Children, especially in a world that is becoming more suburbanized and more removed from nature need this sort of encouragement and education in learning to enjoy nature. Unfortunately, these are not the only lessons the Boy Scouts teach our youth.
1923 KKK sheet music. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
The Boy Scouts of America also teaches children that discriminating against someone because of their religion or their sexual orientation is not only perfectly acceptable, but necessary as those who do not conform to the Boy Scouts’ way are incapable of being moral, upstanding people. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration of Boy Scout policy. Their bylaws state that no one can “grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God,” and a 2004 policy statement asserted that homosexuality was inconsistent with the obligation “to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.” These are not merely empty words, either; the organization has gone to court multiple times to defend its right to discriminate in these ways.
Of course, as a private organization, the Boy Scouts of America does have the right to discriminate in its membership. In exercising this right, they are no different from other organizations who hold hate in their hearts: the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and so on. These organizations have all asserted their rights to hold and voice disgusting, hateful sentiments and had those rights upheld.
The question remains, is membership in such an organization good for our children? In fact, are these organizations good for our society as a whole? And if not, why then is the Columbus Zoo hosting the Boy Scouts celebration this weekend? It is somewhat disheartening to see the Zoo support such a discriminatory organization.
Parents who want to expose their children to nature and outdoor recreation, but who feel that the hateful messages the Boy Scouts teach are inappropriate, do have options. One of the best resources in Columbus is the Metro Park system. Not only can kids and adults go to the Metro Parks and enjoy being outside, but the programs offered by the parks can teach about nature and about fun outdoor activities. And they do this in a welcoming, non-discriminatory environment.