If

Seven.  He’s so big.  The size of everything around him surprises me.  I buy his clothes and I think ‘too big,’ this will never fit. His new bike looks too big to me in the garage. His homework seems too complex for such a little boy. He begs me to read the fourth Harry Potter book, the one that is huge and thick and dark.  It’s TOO BIG my mind rebels, too real, fraught with adult themes and grown up sorrow.

He reads it with ease, even when I force him to read to me aloud, incorporating words like “imprisonment” and “appreciatively” without pause.

The problem, it seems, is not the size of his things, but my perception of him.

He slams his backpack and lunchbox overhand into the stroller outside of school, the same stroller that his sister and he packed into so neatly five years ago when my biggest worries revolved around getting the hell out of the house with three toddlers. “Look!”  He puffs his chest in my direction, showing me the Cub Scout sticker on his shirt.  “The Boy Scouts came today.  They make racing cars.  They go camping. It’s so cool!  Can I do it?”

Oh shit, I think. It’s TOO BIG. It would be easier to let him do it than to explain my objections. It is cool. They do go camping. The troop leader is the husband of a woman I really enjoy.  But in my opinion they are on the wrong side of a human rights struggle that should have been put to rest with other arguments against equality four decades ago and the problem, I remind myself, is not the size of the clothes or the book or the issue, it’s my perception of my son.

“I know it sounds really fun and it probably is, but the thing is, Gee, that not everyone is allowed into the Boy Scouts.  They discriminate against people.”

“What people?”

“Gay people. You know how mom and dad are in love and they’re married?  Well some men love other men and some women love other women like you learned at [crunchy-waldorfy-granola] school that some kids have two mommies or two daddies?”  I salute you, crunchy waldorfy granola school and all you hold dear.

“Yeah. I know.”

“The Boy Scouts won’t let them race cars or go camping.  They won’t let dads and moms who are gay be leaders either.  That’s called discrimination and I don’t think it’s okay.”

“But what if they don’t want in.”

That’s the crux of it. That’s the test.  We can justify anything if we just keep telling ourselves that it’s fine the way it is because no one’s complaining.  “If the door isn’t open, we’ll never know who wants to come in.  We can’t see them.”

“So, we have to let everyone in all the time?”

That would be easy too, wouldn’t it, but my lawyer’s soul won’t allow it.  Children ask when they’re ready to understand, I believe that.

“No.  We can set standards.  Governments set standards and groups set standards. Schools and teams decide who can come in and who can not, but ideally as a first step, if we choose between people, it should always be about what they’ve done, never who they are.  Like when I say, anyone who cleans up the basement can have a treat, that means that you get a treat or not based on what you do.  But if everyone cleaned up and then I said, ‘oh only GIRLS can have the treat because I like them better, that’s not right because you all did the same work, you can’t change who is a boy and who is a girl. That’s who you are.

“People are boys or girls, they are fairer or darker, they are gay or straight, they are Christian or agnostic or Jewish, they are tall or short.

“People do or don’t follow rules, they do or don’t behave kindly, they do or don’t hurt others.  You see?  It can be really hard to tell the difference sometimes because we say it wrong a lot.  Like I might say “you ARE naughty, go to your room.  But I’m saying it wrong.  You behaved naughtily. You made naughty choices or did something naughty.  You aren’t naughty.  Naughty isn’t a state of being, it’s a choice.  Sometimes, grown ups say it wrong on purpose.

“We have to ask our ourselves:  Is it okay to keep people from joining us when they didn’t do anything but love someone else?  Is love what we do? Or is it who we are?”

Standing beside a thick pine trunk, he looks at me with frown lines between his eyes.  The tree soars above his head, its needles and pine cones scattered around his feet.  Maybe he’s tired of hearing me talk or maybe he’s taking it all in.  He picks up a pine cone and throws it at the sidewalk where it explodes into sharp brown fragments against the cement. Does it really matter, I think, if he’s in the Boy Scouts or if he isn’t? We’re little.  Little people in a little school in a small town. But if a million little people teach something important that’s huge.  And if millions of little boys learn big ideas, that’s the future.

“I really wanted to race those cars,” he says and then he shrugs and runs ahead, so little compared to the maples and the cars, and the stretch of our road laid out in yellow and gold and green at his feet, but the biggest thing in this world to me.

It’s all about perception.

 

If

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

61 Responses to If
  1. thepsychobabble
    October 20, 2012 | 11:21 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinewood_derby

    wikipedia gives a list of other organizations that do pinewood derby thing. Maybe a local chapter of one of them does it?
    If it’s more the whole boy scout community thing, maybe 4H? it’s definitely *not* all about farms anymore.

  2. Cyndy
    October 20, 2012 | 11:50 pm

    I just love you.
    I love that you did this, and explained it to him so well and in a way that he could understand.
    Please will you be my neighbor?

  3. Jennifer Knickerbocker
    October 20, 2012 | 11:54 pm

    Awwwww. Poor little guy. We aren’t doing the Boy Scouts for the exact same reason. My four sons will have to make pinewood cars, learn how to tie knots, build fires, and help old ladies cross the street elsewhere. Inclusivity is a much more important lesson. <3

  4. Sharon
    October 21, 2012 | 12:12 am

    “Little people in a little school in a small town. But if a million little people teach something important that’s huge. And if millions of little boys learn big ideas, that’s the future.” Just wow.

    I second trying out 4H or finding a boys’ club for him.

  5. Casey
    October 21, 2012 | 12:17 am

    It’s too bad too, I think there are great experiences to be had with the Boy Scouts but I’m with you. I’m keeping this for when I need to have the same talk with Graham in the next couple of years. Thanks, Stacey.

  6. Gayle
    October 21, 2012 | 12:18 am

    Well, hell. Where’s that leave me in your world seeing as I am a Cub Scout Leader and my son’s have been/are in scouting (as well as my daughter in Girl Scouts)? Hmmmm.

    Skin color and height aren’t a consideration, but being an atheist will prevent you from joining as well. Hmmmm.

    I get it. I really do, but we like scouting and my 6-year old doesn’t know about gays/straights or blacks/whites or religions… I know I’m “supposed” to teach my kids about racism being wrong but somehow I’ve just managed to raise kids who are unaware of racism… people are just people in our house. Racism doesn’t slap anyone in the face around here until Middle School. For the most part. Then we adopt the “well that’s stupid to act like that stance” and move on. Guess I’m not helping the world like you are, but I’m not hurting it either. I don’t think. (I just hate over analyzing life and talking about it too much… we just live it and move on. We’ll always have asshats.).

    Anyhow… I thought this was an interesting article that I quoted … “White House press secretary Jay Carney today repeated the earlier White House statement that Obama “opposes discrimination in all forms” including the Boy Scouts policy. But he said the president would not step down from his honorary Boy Scouts position – suggesting that Obama, like Romney, choose to rhetorically oppose discrimination on one hand but still embrace an organization that practices it.”

    Soooo…. you are doing your one little part and other moms can do their one little part and that all adds up, but probably won’t affect the BSA if our own President keeps his (honorary) Boy Scout status.

    • Anymommy
      October 21, 2012 | 12:45 am

      It’s so hard. I think we just all have to make our own choices. I wasn’t thinking about my choice being the “right” one when I wrote this and I don’t think that being involved in scouts is “wrong.” I was thinking more about how I begin to talk to my kids about big issues, things that are important to me. I feel strongly about the Scouts position on gay members, but I don’t think that not participating is the only solution. (As SC points out below, some would say that’s the wrong solution.) It’s what feels right to me and I found it interesting to talk that through with Gee.

      I think Obama’s stance on this is incredible hypocritical, but he has a MUCH bigger voice (and a correspondingly higher responsibility) in my opinion. I certainly have hypocrisy in my life, but I’m not the leader of the free world either.

      And, outside of my incredible contributions to the economy via my Starbucks addiction, I don’t think I’m helping the world in a way that you are not. In fact, I think it’s likely that you are helping the world far more than I am by mentoring the boys (and girls) in your kids’ scout troops in a loving, inclusive way.

  7. suburbancorrespondent
    October 21, 2012 | 12:20 am

    You know, this is one of those issues that changes once you look at it on the micro-level. We teach our boys that the BSA is wrong on this issue. Yet, are we going to pull them out of the troop full of people we’ve camped and worked alongside of for years? People who would NEVER keep a gay youth from joining our troop? A troop that is sponsored by a church that believes in gay rights? No, we are not.

    People like us are needed on the inside of this organization, because eventually – and probably much sooner than you think – it will change. And it will change faster if all the people who feel it should change don’t just leave. The military was forced to change because of the excellent service of its gay members, because of their push for recognition and equality. If they weren’t there, if it were only people outside the military who were pushing for the change, the movement would have been much less effective, much less credible.

    I understand the nature and effectiveness of boycotts; but I think that sometimes in our society they are used too much. The result is a deepening divide between 2 segments of our society, a divide that only reinforces the us v them mentality prevalent in our political discourse. We need to engage more, withdraw behind our bunkers less.

    If we did not belong to this Boy Scout troop, we might believe that people in Boy Scouts were irredeemable bigots, particularly the people in charge. But because we belong, we know that they are just people, many of whom agree with us on gay rights. The more we withdraw into us v them, the less we truly know about each other.

    • Anymommy
      October 21, 2012 | 1:01 am

      I wouldn’t call my thoughts a boycott, I don’t think. This is more being an informed and careful consumer of activities. If I shop for food and I choose the bread without HFCS (which I do), I’m not boycotting bread with HFCS, I’m just making a choice based on my beliefs about nutrition. Here, I’m making a choice based on my beliefs about human rights and discrimination.

      A boycott to me has more of an organized, systematic flavor to it. Like if I said, “IT’S WRONG TO BE IN BOY SCOUTS AND YOU HATE GAYS IF YOU PARTICIPATE.” I don’t believe that. I think your arguments for participation are compelling, although in the end I disagree.

      I don’t assume anyone involved is a bigot (I detest that word and I think it is horrifically overused in our society, usually to shout someone down who has made a good point), I think our local leaders are lovely people who would probably also admit gay children, but I object to the stance of the organization and I can put my participation dollars and effort elsewhere, so I will.

      What becomes interesting to me then is how I explain that to my son. (Which I in no way claim to have done well.)

    • Kelly Anne
      October 21, 2012 | 2:46 pm

      Hi Suburbancorrespondent: While I agree with the original post, I do find your ideas heartening. As someone who is already involved with a diverse, interesting, open-minded troop, you’re in a different position than those of us looking in from the outside and deciding whether or not to join.

      I don’t disagree that it’s easy to become us-vs-them, and that it’s divisive and dangerous. And it does seem to me that the BSA has some lovely experiences and lessons for kids. Ultimately, we won’t choose to affiliate for all of the reasons that Stacey outlines. If, say, they didn’t let people of color in, we would never participate, regardless of how life-changing and fabulous the individual troops might be. But discrimination against GLBT Americans (or, really, world citizens) is still alive, well, and accepted, so most people aren’t all that fussed by this particular exclusion.

      I’m incredibly happy to hear your assertion that this policy of the BSA’s will likely change soon — I sort of assumed it wasn’t going anywhere, but I know nothing about what they are like at the organizing level. If people like you and your friends are working hard to affect change from within, that’s fabulous, fabulous news.

  8. hokgardner
    October 21, 2012 | 12:45 am

    I’m pretty anti-Boy Scout these days. The publication this week of their “perversion files” just sealed my opinion. Unless there are major changes at the top of the organization, my son will never be a member.

    It comes down to one very simple thing. The organization would deny members of our family the opportunity to be involved in the troop simply because they are gay. And how do I tell my son it’s ok to choose to be in a group that would purposely exclude some of his favorite people?

    Boy scouts can choose to be discriminatory and exclusionary all they want. I can also choose not to be a part of the organization.

    • Anymommy
      October 21, 2012 | 12:48 am

      Yes, and to me it’s interesting to try to convey to my kids how there is power in that. Even if it’s just internal power.

    • Ryan
      October 21, 2012 | 1:06 am

      FWIW, the perversion files are decades old. I wouldn’t hold them against *current* organization leadership. Other stuff, sure. Perversion files, no. In fact, the Youth Protection Program and training in place today is very well defined and thought out. Abuses happen. But, it’s not a systemic issue anymore in my observation.

      I think your last statement is on point. Boy Scouts of America can exercise their freedom of association. And, each individual can choose to participate in scouting or not. Boy Scouts “lose” when their policies deter good people. This is a much better approach than the ‘destroy it from the inside’ strategy mentioned below. Leave ‘em alone if you don’t agree. Do some other activity. Create your own thing. Why do we destroy organizations or institutions that don’t agree with us. Boy Scouts aren’t disallowing people from being agnostic or atheist or gay. You’re free to be a gay agnostic whatever or freely associate with them whenever or wherever you want to…just not in scouting. Oh well…

      • Anymommy
        October 21, 2012 | 3:36 am

        The free association argument works if the organization or activity isn’t governed by the Civil Rights Act (which is complicated). The Boy Scouts of America is a huge organization, which may well engage in enough interstate commerce as defined under that law to be governed by it. I suspect it does, for example, if BSA refused to allow African American pack leaders, I suspect they could be sued. I honestly don’t know enough about how it works, maybe that isn’t the case. But if it is, then the question becomes, should or should not sexual orientation be a protected class, like race. I think it should, which is probably why I take such a strong personal stance on this issue.

        • Alexicographer
          October 22, 2012 | 2:41 am

          I was recently told that being an Eagle Scout (which I know is not the same thing as “just” being a boy scout, but one cannot become an Eagle Scout *without* being a boy scout) entitles one to enter the military at (other things equal) a higher pay grade and this appears, indeed, to be true — see: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/navyjoin/a/advancedrate.htm and http://www.goarmy.com/benefits/money/basic-pay-active-duty-soldiers.html, to the tune of about $3,000 a year (an astonishing amount as a percent, considering the starting salary at the base entry level is just under $18K).

          As a taxpayer I’m frighteningly uncomfortable with that, given the exclusionary policies of the Boy Scouts.

          • Anymommy
            October 22, 2012 | 5:03 pm

            I didn’t know this, thanks for bringing it up.

  9. hokgardner
    October 21, 2012 | 12:45 am

    I’m pretty anti-Boy Scout these days. The publication this week of their “perversion files” just sealed my opinion. Unless there are major changes at the top of the organization, my son will never be a member.

    It comes down to one very simple thing. The organization would deny members of our family the opportunity to be involved in the troop simply because they are gay. And how do I tell my son it’s ok to choose to be in a group that would purposely exclude some of his favorite people?

    Boy scouts can choose to be discriminatory and exclusionary all they want. I can also choose not to be a part of the organization.

  10. Rebecca
    October 21, 2012 | 12:48 am

    OMG! I wish I could and would have said no and explained it like you…now we are neck deep in scouts :( I’m so not okay with it :( Good job!!

  11. Ellen
    October 21, 2012 | 1:01 am

    Stacey, if everyone in the whole world could read this post and talk to their children the way to do yours then this world would be a better place!! Love, love, love it!!!

  12. MommyTime
    October 21, 2012 | 1:13 am

    I took the totally weenie way out and avoided scouts (when my son asked about it in Kindergarten) on the grounds that he had already chosen his activities for the year and we didn’t have time to add another big time commitment. My real reason was much more eloquently explained by you here, but I didn’t know how to put that into words at the time for a five-year-old. If he asked again, I would explain to him my problems with the organization — though I also think that suburban correspondent’s points are extremely good ones and really worth thinking about and talking about with my kids.

    I struggle with the big issue questions a lot. Right now, we’re completely dodging the sports-obsessed 8-yr-old’s questions about why Penn State isn’t eligible for bowl games this year. In my mind, there is a big difference between discussing such horrifying actual events and talking about ideological questions with a child (which, surprisingly, they are extremely good at doing, so long as you speak at an appropriate level for their understanding). And so, thinking an 8-yr-old has no need to know about the Jerry Sanduskys of this world, I have shielded him from this. I think I need to be as clear as you are about the ideological question (I do try), so I’m taking a page from your book and really thinking about how to talk about some of the other questions we’ve been getting lately.

    • Anymommy
      October 21, 2012 | 3:52 am

      Penn State is a tough one. It hasn’t come up here at all. I think it probably starts with how we talk to our kids about sexual predators in general. Around here, we’re still focusing on the ‘no one touches but me’ concept.

  13. Tami
    October 21, 2012 | 2:03 am

    I lean towards a million little boys (and in my case girls too) learning the big ideas making our future. At 7 they are so open and ready to embrace EVERYONE and the concept of fairness is such a huge piece of their idea of living in a just world, I’m not surprised that he accepted your reasons at all.
    I often look to my peers to see how they handle parenting situations, this is one that I will reference when the time comes. Explaining discrimination to a child is one of those things that could very well tongue tie an adult.
    As for all the cool things the scouts do I am sure there are plenty of inclusive options out there, crunchy granola type options maybe…

    • Kelly Anne
      October 21, 2012 | 2:59 pm

      Hi Tami: You mention girls, and I’m not sure if you’re aware that the Girl Scouts is a totally different organization, and has no policies excluding GLBT participants or troop leaders!

      Also, Campfire USA (which admits both girls and boys) is inclusive, and my understanding is that they are fabulous as well, particularly for camping/scouting type activities. 4H has a different focus (agriculture, which seems interesting to me, but lots of other great stuff as well) is also inclusive.

    • Kelly Anne
      October 21, 2012 | 4:12 pm

      Hi Tami:
      You mentioned girls, and I wanted to note that Girl Scouts is a totally separate organization from BSA, and doesn’t exclude GLBT scouts or troop leaders.

      Campfire USA is also inclusive, and I’ve heard great things about their programs, particularly for kids who want to scout/camp. When I was in high school (um, a suuuuuper long time ago), several of my close girlfriends were in Campfire, and they did it all the way through, earning their Wohilo (sp?) Medallions (the Campfire equivalent of the Eagle Scout). It was a big, important part of their lives, and they were very involved as teens.

      4H, which obviously has a more agriculture/farming emphasis, but is supposed to be really fun as well, is also inclusive.

      • Anymommy
        October 22, 2012 | 5:05 pm

        Thanks for this information! I hadn’t really thought about Girl Scouts, but it’s good to know that they have different policies. I’ve been looking into Campfire, it seems like a great option.

        • Kelly Anne
          October 22, 2012 | 7:26 pm

          Hi Anymommy: I didn’t mean to post twice (above). My initial post didn’t seem to go through, so I re-wrote the post, and of course the info is now there twice. Sorry for the repetition — I’d delete one of the two if I could :)

          Loved your original post — was directed to your blog by a friend of yours who witnessed a bit of a scuffle over this issue on fb, which I had with a total stranger. Am trying hard not to argue with people I don’t know, and am working at only saying things I’d say to a person’s face. Thanks for your thoughtful, kind responses to those who are in disagreement with you!

  14. Korinthia Klein
    October 21, 2012 | 3:52 am

    I’m reading more and more about parents making the same decision as you have, and I’d like to believe it’s a first step toward the scouts reassessing their position on gays and atheists. That would be the ideal outcome, updating their organization to be more inclusive so that families like yours can participate again.

    This issue makes me think of Mr Rogers. I once heard him be asked in an interview why, as an ordained minister, he didn’t voice his religious beliefs when talking to children on his show or elsewhere. And he replied that it was not worth the risk of inadvertently making any child feel excluded. (That was a man with the best priorities ever. I’m still sad he’s gone.)

    • Anymommy
      October 22, 2012 | 5:06 pm

      Let’s hope, there’s lots of ways to encourage change, but I do feel a surge of change on this issue.

  15. Amelia
    October 21, 2012 | 6:05 am

    Oh thank you for this one. I just had a very long conversation with my G (she may have been procrastinating bedtime) about the fact boys AND girls can love pink and boys AND girls can love blue. That everyone is their own person and is allowed to love whatever color they want. It was such a weird conversation. All I want is kindness, acceptance, love for everyone. Why is this so hard?

  16. Della Williams
    October 21, 2012 | 8:51 am

    Wow! I scanned through the comments and found each interesting. I’m sure someone will find mines interesting as well.

    I don’t know if I would stop him from being in the Cub Scouts. Just saying. I know he is your child and you and your husband will decided what is best for him. I was faced with not a similar choice but a choice that was similar when it came to our family values.

    We live in an area where the middle and high schools are awful. They have such a bad reputation that my son begged me not to send him to the high school. I tried getting him into a public school specialty program name DSST. He was not selected. I found myself left with little to no choice when it came to FREE public education. So I enrolled him in a catholic high school. Mind you I didn’t and don’t agree with the catholic faith on EVERY spiritual level. My close friends hit the roof when they heard I was considering parochial education for my son [laughing]. They were swinging spiritually from all directions. But I considered our family faith background and believed that it would take precedence over the catholic faith. Therefore, I placed him in the catholic educational system. He struggled! He was not academically prepared to handle the educational challenges of private school. I questioned if I had done the right thing, not because we weren’t catholic but because my son wasn’t academically prepared to handle the rigorous educational schedule. I prayed. He stayed. He graduated and now attends one of the top 20 universities here in the States, whereas his friends from public school are searching for jobs and refusing college as an option to open future employment doors. I wrote all that to convey this: “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” – Abraham Lincoln

    • Della Williams
      October 21, 2012 | 3:07 pm

      My computer crashed at the time I was posting my first comment. Can you be so kind and delet one of them. They are much the same in content. Thank you. And again I did enjoy reading, like always, your post. Take care.

    • Anymommy
      October 22, 2012 | 5:13 pm

      Hey Della, I’ve made a similar choice for my kids’ Kindergarten education, sending them to a Christian private school. I love the headstart it gives them although I do struggle with some of the religious instruction. We talk about it as much as possible at home. But I have to say, if this school had a policy of discrimination against the GLBT community or other people, I wouldn’t let my kids attend.

      I love that Abe Lincoln quote and I want to say again, I don’t think the people involved in Scouts are bad people. I don’t think it’s wrong to choose Scouts for your kids. I don’t think the current leaders are bigots or any other horrible label and I don’t think the parents of kids who participate are anti-GLBT, I was just posting my thoughts as they apply to my kid and our decision.

  17. tracy@sellabitmum
    October 21, 2012 | 12:16 pm

    He can still race cars. I know you will find something that works. Love your heart. xo

  18. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    October 21, 2012 | 7:10 pm

    God I am glad I don’t have little ones to raise again.
    I was in the Brownies.
    I hated it after about a week and that was the end of that sort of thing for me, but making me think my own children could skip it too.
    I had a bad experience ( as did a whole Sunday School class) one year when I was a child, when the teacher wanted to talk to us about our bodies and sex.
    God knows that man is roasting in hell right now , if there is such a thing.
    I and my husband have never really liked these organisations and one good reason was that there is anti-Semetism running rampant them and who needs that on top of everything else ?
    So I am being very supportive of everyone on here who feels better about your children not participating in various organisations and that no one and nothing can convince you that your decision is not a good one.

  19. Clare
    October 21, 2012 | 9:10 pm

    Wow you’ve written yet another favorite post… I love to learn from watching how other people handle tough situations. So rarely do we get to witness each othes’ thinking and rationale.

    This was so amazing to me. Thank you for writing it up.. both what you said and why. I would probably lean towards the similar choice, but would struggle for the words… And that is a gift to see people live out life and share that living so other people can watch and learn and see yet another way of approaching the question of how to live and navigate our lives.

    I also can’t help but wonder — why do some organizations get to go into schools and promote themselves and not others? Who makes that call?

    • Anymommy
      October 22, 2012 | 5:22 pm

      I’m not sure, but I’ve been planning to ask the principal at the next PTA meeting. I suspect that any 501(c)(3) dedicated to serving children in some way may have access to the schools.

  20. Lisa
    October 21, 2012 | 9:48 pm

    What a great post… I admire how you discussed it at his level. Also, informative, as I was unaware the boy scouts had such exclusive policies. My only previous complaint about the scouts was that they are currently out peddling their delicious looking (and probably very unhealthy) snacks (at least… I think those kids are boy scouts?) in front of the grocery store, REI and other such places and I can’t buy them because they are processed in a facility with peanuts and my snack loving two year old is severely allergic. Now I have more good reasons not to buy them and I feel much better about it :)

    Anyway, great post- not only for your writing but for all different, yet politely stated, opinions in the comments. Nice to find a corner of the internet in which people coming from different sides of things are actually respectful!
    -Lisa

    • Anymommy
      October 22, 2012 | 5:29 pm

      Thanks Lisa, and yes, the commenters here fabulous!

  21. Molly
    October 21, 2012 | 10:17 pm

    YES. I applaud you for this. I cannot fathom allowing my (nonexistent) children to join an organization that would exclude some of the people I hold so dear. That’s what it comes down to. I love my LGBT family members and respect them far too much to join an organization that has archaic beliefs about the gay community. I cannot support discrimination. And I have no idea if my kids will grow up to be gay or straight, and I don’t ever want to look back and think “I put my gay kid in a place where he wasn’t welcome or valued because of who he loves.”

  22. anna see
    October 21, 2012 | 10:28 pm

    Love this post! Love how you talked about the heart of the issue with him. He may not get it right now, because of the allure of that block of pinewood to be cut and raced, but he noticed. he noticed.

  23. Mom24@4evermom
    October 22, 2012 | 12:50 am

    I’m struggling with this, big time. Jacob’s been in scouting for six years now. If we were starting now, I think I’d pass, I’m very disappointed in the organization. However, to me, it’s a somewhat different choice to leave the organization you’ve been so involved in, especially when the incoming chair vows to reverse the ban. It’s a quandary for me, for sure, and I appreciate you sharing your feelings.

  24. Mom24@4evermom
    October 22, 2012 | 12:53 am

    Ugh. Sorry for the duplicate. My page reset while posting.

  25. tracey
    October 22, 2012 | 1:13 am

    That was sooooo perfectly worded, STacey. Perfect.

    There has to be SOME group for him to join that camps and races cars. SOMEthing besides scouts…

  26. Angela Cochran
    October 22, 2012 | 1:13 am

    We made our own knitting needles at Waldorf pre-school last week. Apparently the official method for sharpening the tip is to go outside and scrape it against the pavement. And my dumb ass would have just used a pocket knife. Good thing I’ve got the Waldorfs to show me the way. The week before I thought for sure I’d be expelled when my son almost fell from a seven foot high piece of play equipment and I screamed “SHIT!!!!!” as I ran to save him. Those Waldorfs have to be tolerant of things much “worse” than gays: me! :)

    I still blame you for it!

    • Anymommy
      October 22, 2012 | 5:32 pm

      I take full responsibility. I still giggle about your email. The finger knitting!

  27. Kimberly
    October 22, 2012 | 3:55 am

    I am bookmarking this so I can refer to it when my kids reach Scouts age. I’m hoping by then it will all be a moot point, and that BSA will change its stance, but we’ll see… Beautifully, written. Thank you for this.

  28. Naomi
    October 22, 2012 | 4:25 am

    ITA with you on this one. We have not had to deal directly with it, but the answer is no.
    And, didn’t they recently internally review this and decide that the policy will not change? I remember seeing something in the news in the last few months.
    sad.

  29. Jessica
    October 22, 2012 | 11:31 am

    I love how you handled this and the choice you made as well. Maybe if he doesn’t understand it all now he slowly will and soon he will appreciate what you are instilling in him and so will the rest of the world.

  30. Wendy
    October 22, 2012 | 3:53 pm

    Let me join the chorus of thanks for sharing your thinking so clearly with both your son and with us. My husband had a fantastic scouting experience, and for years (when it was all theoretical) argued that his leader, a local crunchy-granola-leftist hero, was not discriminatory, so some general policy from afar wasn’t hurting anyone. I saw a big problem with this attitude, but had to grant him the point that his particular group was inclusive and liberal. Plus I could tell that he felt like I was sort of crapping on one of the great experiences of his childhood, so I let it go.

    When the issue came up this year, now involving our actual kids, we started wrangling again. He seemed to feel I had ahold of some obscure, little-known policy, so I sent him to an online article in a major newspaper about how BSA has recently reviewed and reconfirmed their position against allowing gays or atheists in. Bless his heart, he immediately said, “Oh. Well, that sucks. What other groups can we get them into?”

    And that’s kind of where we got stuck. I loved Camp Fire, but I know that boys don’t tend to last past grade school, and my husband worries it will be too artsy craftsy and not enough “spend the night in the woods with only a pocket light and a poncho.” There’s a really cool sounding group founded by a former Scout leader, but it’s new and small and only on the other coast, unless you want to buy the manual and start your own local chapter, and, well, no. I don’t. So we’re looking into 4-H right now, which kind of cracks me up, even though they’re not just raising sheep these days.

    I do appreciate the different points of view being politely expressed here. Like many others, for me it comes down to not being able to look particular friends in the eye and tell them that my children have joined a group that they would not be welcome in. And to my husband having to lie about his lack of spiritual belief if he wanted to get involved in leadership for his children.

  31. Wendy
    October 22, 2012 | 3:54 pm

    Let me join the chorus of thanks for sharing your thinking so clearly with both your son and with us. My husband had a fantastic scouting experience, and for years (when it was all theoretical) argued that his leader, a local crunchy-granola-leftist hero, was not discriminatory, so some general policy from afar wasn’t hurting anyone. I saw a big problem with this attitude, but had to grant him the point that his particular group was inclusive and liberal. Plus I could tell that he felt like I was sort of crapping on one of the great experiences of his childhood, so I let it go.

    When the issue came up this year, now involving our actual kids, we started wrangling again. He seemed to feel I had ahold of some obscure, little-known policy, so I sent him to an online article in a major newspaper about how BSA has recently reviewed and reconfirmed their position against allowing gays or atheists in. Bless his heart, he immediately said, “Oh. Well, that sucks. What other groups can we get them into?”

    And that’s kind of where we got stuck. I loved Camp Fire, but I know that boys don’t tend to last past grade school, and my husband worries it will be too artsy craftsy and not enough “spend the night in the woods with only a pocket light and a poncho.” There’s a really cool sounding group founded by a former Scout leader, but it’s new and small and only on the other coast, unless you want to buy the manual and start your own local chapter, and, well, no. I don’t. So we’re looking into 4-H right now, which kind of cracks me up, even though they’re not just raising sheep these days.

    I do appreciate the different points of view being politely expressed here. Like many others, for me it comes down to not being able to look particular friends in the eye and tell them that my children have joined a group that they would not be welcome in. And to my husband having to lie about his lack of spiritual belief if he wanted to get involved in leadership for his children.

  32. Issa
    October 22, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    I love your explanation. I also love that he’s big enough to hear it and yet still little enough to not care. It’s such an in-between time. They are little, yet big. I’m seeing the end of it in Morgan, but she is almost eleven.

    Is there go-cart racing in your town? It’s big in some areas. I know a blogger whose daughter do it outside Portland. Maybe there is go-cart racing near you? You know, mini car racing, with no politics or discrimination.

  33. Anne
    October 22, 2012 | 5:20 pm

    I love how you explained it to him, and how he responded :)

  34. Elaine
    October 22, 2012 | 6:23 pm

    IF only we could all just be accepting of each other. Man, how awesome would that be??

  35. adil
    October 22, 2012 | 8:53 pm

    I love-love-love this. I’m going to print it out and paste it above my pillow as an example of the kind of person and parent that I want to be. Really. Thanks so much for this. Your kids are so lucky to have you. And so are all of us that read your blog.

  36. Lesley
    October 23, 2012 | 12:25 am

    I just read this to my 14 year old. He gets it. He got a much simpler argument when he was little. “The Boy Scouts don’t accept me because I am gay. It’s not an organization that we want to be a part of.”

    Thank you for explaining this in a much more thoughtful, thorough way than I did. You hit the crux of decision making – is it because of what we/you/I/they do, or who we/you/I/they are? I’m glad to have shared this with my son now.

    Lesley

  37. Lady Jennie
    October 23, 2012 | 5:10 pm

    This was the best explanation I’ve ever heard – the one about the basement and cleaning it and whether or not you got a treat based on what you did as opposed to who you are. You said it better than I did. I will use a similar example when explaining to my children about equality because it is crystal clear. (Even though I didn’t explain it well). ;-)

  38. Ashley
    October 24, 2012 | 10:06 pm

    Oddly enough, I have been thinking about this a lot lately, with the signs out all over the neighborhood. Not that I will need to worry about this for several years, but I do wonder what the state of affairs will be at that point? It never bothered me to take a stand for or against something before, but when you have to explain to a child the reasons why, it certainly makes it different–both more difficult and more important. I think you did a great job and am always glad to have your posts as guidance for the future. I am currently struggling over my Halloween candy purchase after reading about the issue of child labor and chocolate production–do I haul my thousands of pieces of candy (as you know we have to buy on this street) back to Costco to return with my full schedule and limited amount of time? I know that no one else in my family knows about this, and my daughter certainly doesn’t care at 20 months, but I certainly feel more strongly than ever about setting an example as a parent. This post has certainly compelled me to do so…. Now, just have to find that damn receipt…

  39. MommyNamedApril
    November 16, 2012 | 4:13 am

    we had already made the decision not to allow our kids to join boy scouts because of their practices with respect to GLBT, but i didn’t even know they don’t accept atheists. i won’t lie, i’m glad we rejected them before i knew they were rejecting us ;-) i hope more people make the decision to find or create something better.

    and obama? pfffft… it makes me crazy that he is lauded as a champion of gay rights. boy scout affiliation aside, if he really supported equality and gay marriage he would take it on as a federal matter, not throw the issue back to the states. but that’s another can of worms.

    love your blog. love that you never back down from addressing the hard stuff. xo

  40. Galit Breen
    November 19, 2012 | 9:01 pm

    This – this post, your words, your mothering – are all stunning.

    xo

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