Nashville Scouts rally to keep status quo

"We must depend on the Boy Scouts to produce the men of the future." The quote by Daniel Carter Beard, co-founder of the eventual Boy Scouts, is proudly displayed on the Middle Tennessee Scout Council's website. For those who have never been a part of the Boy Scouts there is a Scout Law in which a scout professes to be "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." Some Nashville scouts and their parents want to strike trustworthy and brave from that list as they rallied outside the Middle Tennessee Council headquarters this afternoon in an effort to to show support of the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" BSA policy.

"[Allowing scouts to serve openly] will create huge legal, logistical and practical applications problems in terms of carrying out the program at the local level.," said Eric Johnson Scoutmaster of Mount Juliet Troop 150 BSA own studies have shown that existing registered membership will decrease by one-third to one-half."

Earlier this month, The Middle Tennessee Council announced that it would not support a change in policy. The current BSA policy excludes those "individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the Boy Scouts of America"

In a statement, Hugh Travis, Scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council, said “the parents, leaders and chartered partners in the Middle Tennessee Council believe that the current membership policy is a core value of the Scout Oath and Law."

But not every parent believes this is true. In fact in a letter obtained by O&AN,  Erik and Jennifer Cole, whose 9-year-old son is in a East Nashville Cub Scout pack, chastised the Middle Tennessee Scout Council for its position including revoking their annual pledge to the council.

In their letter the Cole family stated, "our family’s beliefs about GLBT scouts and leaders have always been different than that of Boy Scouts USA. However, we have found value in the focus on hard work, responsibility, honor and respect that are woven throughout the Scouting tradition. We have kept our son enrolled in the program because at the Pack and Den level we have been surrounded by open-minded, kind and accepting people."

"We would have liked an opportunity to participate in the survey you conducted of District families.  It appears It was not given to all parents in the region. Our family was not given the opportunity to speak and if so, would have voiced revulsion both at the tone and implication of the questions in the survey. Asserting that 9 year olds are sexual predators, regardless of their sexual orientation is disturbing and clearly biased. This survey does not reflect our opinions or values about the basic human condition. Thanks to this out of touch survey, we had to discuss with our 3rd grade Scout why Boy Scouts don’t respect certain people in the community and don’t want pack activities open to certain students. This discussion violates nearly every “achievement” he has worked on to earn his Bear rank over the last 10 months."

The gay scouting debate is front and center nationwide as councils and troops square off before the BSA National Council votes next week on a proposed change that would allow gay scouts to serve openly but not gay leaders. 

Scout motto is Be Prepared and that is a whole other story.


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