This year, I turned 17. I came out to everybody
(well, nearly everybody). And I earned my Eagle Scout badge
. I agree almost completely with Sarcasmo
: my experience as a scout has been good in a lot of ways, and a net
plus, but it seems... tainted
Almost everything I did in my troop was great: we trekked through Philmont. We scuba dived at the Scouts' Seabase in the Florida Keys. We went on dozens of local campouts to camps like Camp Pioneer and Camp Cherokee. Most of us had a great time, and got a lot of exposure to the outdoors we otherwise wouldn't have.
Being a gay agnostic Eagle Scout is an awkward position at the moment. I haven't come out to any relatives besides my parents, or to my Dad's co-workers (who are also friends), because Mom and Dad asked me nicely not to. But the only other group I'm still lying to is my Scout Troop, and I wish I didn't have to. I don't feel obligated to come clean out of guilt, but rather the hope of changing a few people's minds about whether gays can be good scouts and adult leaders-- or at least as good as the straight ones. I think the BSA's current policy needs to change, and I'd be proud to help change it. I'd hate to see all the sane and tolerant people leave the Scouts over this.
Now that I've had a Court of Honor and have the badge, I think I'm going to send the Boy Scouts of America headquarters a polite letter explaining that I disagree with their more bigoted policies, and why. They'll probably kick me out. (I think I'm also going to wait until after they carve my name in stone in front of the headquarters of Circle 10 Council in Dallas, along with the names of every other scout in the council to ever make Eagle, all the way back to 1911 or so. What are they going to do? Sandblast me out and leave a blank spot?)
It wouldn't be so bad if I had a picture perfect experience as a Scout, then grew up and realized that discrimination and marketing are part of the package. Sometimes, life is like that. But even from the time I started, I weaseled through too many merit badges and other requirements without learning as much as I should have, and worried way too much about the right resume and too little about the right way to do things. I learned the large majority of the stuff Sarcasmo mentions in What I learned in Boy Scouts too, but I admit that I don't remember more than half of it well enough for it to be useful. And... (grimace)... my Eagle scout project wasn't anything significant at all, and I'm not very proud of it.
Now, is that because I didn't put enough into it? Probably so. But it must be a little larger than that as well, because it didn't just happen to me. In my troop, several scouts besides me don't have any real religion, but say the Scout Oath ("On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country") and Law ("a Scout is Reverent") just like they say "One nation, under God" when pledging allegiance. So do I. And even worse is how often we did a half-assed job on things to satisfy requirements; the raw careerism is hideous. I know they're only human, but the scouts working on merit badges and ranks, the scouts leading them, and the adult leaders leading the whole thing could raise their standards. Too many times, I've seen people (including myself) get full credit for a very half-assed job.
I doubt I'll ever work in personnel, but my attitude towards hiring Eagles (at least from my troop) is that it's a good way to find reasonably bright, hard-working people who can tolerate paperwork, physical hardship, the knowledge that they're doing a bad job and it won't matter, and even total, silent hypocrisy if it's in their narrow self-interest. In other words, organization men. Lackeys. And that's not who I want to be.
(Also, I think a shameless plug for scoutingforall.org should go here.)
I'm also generally against updates, but I'd like to offer a cheer for LVeran and his troop.