Michele O'Mara

A small rant

Filed By Michele O'Mara | September 18, 2007 11:50 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: boys scouts, school

In the absence of questions this week, I've decided to use my little corner of this web to rant a bit today.

This year my partner and I sent our first kiddo off to kindergarten in our designated public school. You know, the institution that our government has created to provide the required education for our children? The institution that consumes large portions of all of our hard-earned, gay, tax money? The institution that serves as the gateway to the minds of the majority of children in the United States? That one.

We are pleased with most of our experiences so far, and except for the occasional innocent inquires from truly confused parents, and random staff at the school - such as: "well, Michele, if you are his mom, who is Teresa?" or "I thought Teresa was his mom, who are you?" - most folks accept our family as is. For that we're grateful. "We are so grateful that our child's teacher accepts our family for who we are." I wonder if any of the non-gay parents find themselves saying that? Being gay has taught me to be conscious of, and grateful for, acceptance - any acceptance - to never take it for granted.

My issue today is about our schools' relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As many of you probably know, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth-serving organizations in America, serving more than 5 million young people.

Last week my son came home on Tuesday with a large round sticker stuck to his shirt. On it was, "Join us for our first BSA meeting on such and such date and time." Did I mention this was stuck to his shirt? Stuck. Stuck to his shirt! Is this typical of all public schools? I'd love to hear from others with kids.

So, okay, our school is obviously advertising for the Boy Scouts. How does one get such free advertising? How does an organization with discriminating values, obviously not consistent with all students, get access to the shirts of hundreds of young boys? Hang a poster. Put a flyer in the classroom. That seems reasonable. But my son's personal property - his shirt?

Thursday the BSA invaded my son's back pack. Along with the Humptey Dumptey cut-out, the counting work sheets, and his writing assignment, was another invitation to join the Boy Scouts.

In a Position Statement from the BSA dated 6/9/03 they write: Applications for leadership and membership do not inquire into sexual orientation. However, an individual who declares himself to be a homosexual would not be permitted to join Scouting. All members in Scouting must affirm the values of the Scout Oath and Law, and all leaders must be able to model those values for youth.

Now if I read this correctly, this means that the BSA are comfortable with anyone who may live deceptively, or someone who may be gay, but who is not willing to live their truth and agrees with the Boy Scouts that being gay is immoral. But they are not comfortable with those who live or speak their truth? Hmmmmm. Would you rather have your son in a troop with someone who is not able to live and speak their truth, who suppresses his natural - legal - desires, and condemns himself for his feelings, or someone who says honestly, 'I am gay' and lives his truth openly?

I wonder if Senator Craig was ever a Boy Scout?

Back to advertising. How does the BSA land a marketing opportunity as expanse as the U.S. Public School system? I wonder if any organization can do this? I'm thinking that our local Indiana Youth Group (IYG), a non-profit organization that exists to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth, might need to investigate this sort of marketing opportunity. In fact, IYG actually welcomes heterosexual parents and non-gay peers to join in their support services and activities. Perhaps they could get some rainbow stickers printed and put together a meeting time, then paste them to the shirts of all of students and send them home?

Just a thought.

To avoid future rants, send me your questions!

Michele O'Mara, LCSW

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I was a Boy Scout and at least one other gay boy in my school was also. I also did a one year stint inbetween colleges as a scoutmaster. Though at the time I wasn't even admitting to myself that I was gay. The LDS (Mormon) church more or less took over the Boy Scouts and many who were previously in Scouting think they are ruining it.

Scout groups have been traditionally generally associated with churches or church schools and other fraternal organizations like the Eagles, American Legion, etc. or even neighborhood organizations. I've never known of a troop associated with a public school unless that school is the only one in the community.

As our daughter was going thru elementary, we also got the papers for joining the Boy Scouts (they passed them out to everyone instead of just boys), but even more disturbing is the religious literature your kid'll bring home. Join this church's after school program. Join that church's before school care. The amount of religious-based literature is staggering.

I remember telling you about the organization that was in our daughter's middle school. The school was requiring that all students attend and at the 1st meeting the "leader" told them about her relationship with God and how important he was. We had to complain to the school board and principal repeatedly to get the program "temporarily suspended." They brought it back, of course, with a school official "supervising." The same group was thrown out of three township schools for proselytizing in school.

That's just terrible, Michele. Honestly, you'd think that the BSA would try to be more respectable than to advertise on a young kid's body.

Why can't IYG put together something like that? It prolly wouldn't get through because of, you know, that thing where people don't like the gays all that much, but it'd be fun to hear the responses. At least IYG is more inclusive than the BSA!

Ellen Andersen Ellen Andersen | September 21, 2007 8:47 PM

Michelle, I wish I had words of wisdom to offer you about how to deal with this situation. I'm appalled that the Boy Scouts are apparently given free reign to attempt to indoctrinate little kids, but I guess I'm not particularly surprised. Neither am I surprised that Bil and Jerame's daughter was forced to submit to a form of religious indoctrination. I've certainly heard horror stories of blatent attempts to indoctrinate children into Christianity by school teachers, never mind after-school programs.

My partner and I took a different tack in order to avoid (or at least minimize) the clueless questions and religious proselytizing: we send our daughter to a private school we very carefully vetted for its institutional attitude about queer families. Of course, we've got enough money to pay the school's rather steep tuition. So our solution only works for the thin slice of Americans who can afford tuition on top of taxes. (It's amazing how useful class privilege can be as an insulator against unwanted indoctrination....)

I am, as usual, impressed by Bil and Jerame's willingness to raise hell when necessary, and I wonder if it's not worth it for you to raise a little hell yourself? I suspect the school administration has *no idea* that there's anything problematic about the Boy Scouts. It's just remotely possible that they'll be amenable to a little education (pun intended). And if they're not, at least your kid's teachers might stop sticking sticker's on his shirt....