Thank you for your positive response to the action of the Boy Scouts of America in removing sexual preference as a criterion for youth membership. Confusion remains, of course, because a gay Scout who turns 18 and wants to give back to his troop by becoming an assistant scoutmaster will be denied. This barrier must be removed next.
In more than 20 years as a Scout leader, I have taught my Scouts the meaning behind the words of the Scout Oath and Law. When we talk about “morally straight,” I explain that morality is about what you do, not who you are. Being gay does not make you immoral, but stealing or cheating do.
One of Scouting’s great benefits is teaching boys the importance of being inclusive, of getting to know boys of other faiths and backgrounds, going camping with boys who are autistic or African-American, or Muslim or gay. When you need a hand on a mountain trail in the Adirondacks, it really does not matter whether that hand is gay or straight, only that it is trustworthy.
It’s a shame that many associated with this great youth organization can’t see beyond their own prejudices. There is nothing wrong with faith-based youth organizations, but what Scouting can offer in our society is unique.
Gayle is Scoutmaster of Troop 44 in Gilbertsville.