Joining the Boy Scouts of America in the 21st century is awfully complicated. There's their history of covering up child molestation charges. There's their stance against homosexuality. And yet... people who grew up with scouting are still looking for something like it for their own kids. Something that gets kids outdoors, setting goals, building fires -- but without all the homophobia. I'm one of those parents looking for alternatives.
So how exciting to find one in my own neighborhood! A dad in Brooklyn, Todd Schweikert, formed a new scout troop where everyone is welcome -- gay, straight, boys and girls. "The tipping point was the BSA's approach to gay scouts and the gay and lesbian parents," he told Huffington Post. "Any form of discrimination, no matter how small, is never OK and not something I can endorse and wish to teach to my children."
Schweikert founded what he's calling the 5th Brooklyn Scouts troop. It's affiliated with the Baden-Powell Service Association, a more progressive scouting organization for boys and girls. Don't you love parents who creatively solve problems through their own initiative? Who is this guy?!? And get this -- the 5th Brooklyn Scouts meets in a building just a short walk away from where I live!
As it happens, I have a nine-year-old son in Cub Scouts. He joined this year after seeing the troop march in a neighborhood parade this summer. My son's father was a Boy Scout -- an Eagle Scout, in fact -- and was enthusiastic about joining our son. But here's the thing: My son's father is gay. (I know, what?!? It's a long story.) So I kind of wondered how long we'd last in BSA.
I like to think that the BSA troop would be cool with it once they found out. After all, there's that BSA group in California who petitioned to allow a gay scout to get his Eagle. But our son ended up deciding to leave his Cub Scout troop for his own reasons. He didn't like how much the den mother yells, and he didn't like how they served junk food for snacks. Oh my god, this is what happens when a gay artist and a writer have a child, feed him organic food, and send him to a super-progressive private school where teachers whisper rather than yell. He's a little different!
All the more reason why we'll probably check out this new scout troop. The world is changing, quickly. We need service organizations that can keep up. But we also still need our kids to learn how to start fires and tie knots. I don't think it's asking too much.
Does the Boy Scouts of America's politics bother you enough to not join?
Image via Baden-Powell Service Association