Boy Scouts Morally Straight…and Gay

Vintage Illustration Boy Scout Handbook 1962

How to Join the Boy Scouts

So you want to get in on all the fun and excitement that scouts have?

Well there are 3 things you have to do to become a Boy Scout and enjoy the fellowship of a patrol and a troop.

First you have to be at least 11 years old.

Second you have to find a Boy Scout troop near your home.

Third you have to know the rules of scouting….gays need not apply.

The third requirement may be changing.

Boy Scouts of America is considering dropping a longtime ban on gay members, ending its decades long policy.

Boy Scout Handbook1962

Vintage Boy Scout Handbook: A Handbook of Training For Citizenship Through Scouting Co. 1962 Cover Illustration Norman Rockwell (L) Ad for handbook

Meeting the Boy Scout Test

“Simply coming in to a troop meeting and getting in with your future pals won’t  make you a  Boy Scout overnight,” explains the Scouting  Handbook from 1962. There are skills you must learn and rules you must follow to be a full fledged scout.

Apparently gadar is one of the important skills a scout must develop as the rules were clearly spelled out when it comes to sexual orientation…scouting was not for ALL boys

Vintage Illustration  Cub Scouts 1959

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The Boy Scouts has long held onto this antiquated policy reflecting a time when gays were silent and invisible.

This longtime policy of banning gays is as dated and quaint as these vintage illustrations are.

boy scout coke ad Norman Rockwell

Who better to depict the red white and blue American Boy Scout than Norman Rockwell whose Brown & Bigelow Boy Scout calendar has always been a hands down best seller.

In 1912 Norman Rockwell was hired as staff artist for Boy Scout magazine Boys Life. At the tender age of 19 he took over as art director of the where he was paid $75 a month to do covers and some inside art work.

Boy scouts Norman Rockell illustration 50th anniversary

Vintage Boys Life Magazine 1960 – 50th Anniversary of Boy Scouts Illustration Norman Rockwell

“That fellow in the upper left in Norman Rockwell’s painting  celebrating the 50 years of Boy Scouts, doesn’t show 50 years of wear and neither does the scroll he is passing on to his modern counterparts,” the description reads on this February 1960 illustration from  Boys Life. ” Matter of fact.” they say proudly,  “that code spelled out on the scroll has stood up to 50 grand years of scouting.”

Fifty years later the code is indeed beginning to show some wear and tear.

Boy Scouts Boys Life Magazines Norman Rockwell

Vintage Boys Life Magazine Covers by Norman Rockwell (L) “Physically Fit” 1964
(R) “A Good sign all over the world” Feb. 1963 At a glance it lets us know that the bustling scouting spirit hopscotch’s every countries boundaries

Our Democracy

The Boy Scouts  notorious history of excluding gay youth from their organization, contrasts starkly with their flag waving  emphasis on equality and citizenship.

illustration photo Boy Scout Citizen Oath 1960

“The scout oath and the scout laws are meant to be your guide to citizenship”, the  1962 Boy Scout Handbook advises us, defining “what it means to be a good American, becoming the kind of citizen our country needs and deserves.”

An important component of the Boy Scout Code states- “I will recognize the dignity and worth of my fellow men and will use fair play and good will in dealing with them.”

“To you and me, America is the finest country in the world. But it is not just the land we live in, it is also the kind of life for which America stands- democracy.”

The Scouts stand firmly for democracy.

“It is your duty as a scout and as an American to help keep that democracy alive. To do this you must know the true meaning of America, you must believe in her forms of government, you must be willing to do your part to keep America great.”

Vintage Illustration Boy Scout Handbook 1962

“The Americans creed sums up in the words of great Americans the things for which America stands. It points out your rights and privileges’ and your duties as an American citizen.”

“I believe in the United States of America……as a government by the people for the people…” Of, by, and for the people- not just some of them, but all of them. Not just the rich or the poor, not just people of one race or one creed, but all the people- the people to which the declaration of independence refers when it says: All men, are created equal.”

Un-American Activities

Some scouting units have recently  lost their sponsors and many corporations have cut off donations because the ban violates their non discrimination policies. In recent years it has forced more and more criticism for this controversial policy as the US has become more accepting of gay rights.

Vintage Illustrations Little Golden Book Cub Scouts 1959

Vintage Illustrations Little Golden Book Cub Scouts 1959 by Bruce Brian; illustration Mel Crawford

A slew of negative headlines began appearing: A lesbian Mom was kicked out of her position as a den leader in Ohio. The Eagle scout application of a California teen who came out was rejected. Last summer a 19 year old Eagle Scout in Missouri was fired from his job at a scout summer camp after he announced he was gay.

Is this really the American Way?

Vintage Illustration Boy Scout Handbook 1962

Morally Straight

“It is important to America and to yourself that you become a citizen of fine character physically strong mentally awake and morally straight”, we are told in the introduction of the Handbook.

“The strength of America depends on YOU.”

“You are the guardian of what the early Americans have built. You are the American on whom the future of our wonderful country depends.”

boy scouts around campfire vintage illustration

At a time when President Obama became the first president to use the term “gay” in reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural speech the idea that scouting might reflect the actual diversity of thought like the multicultural and sexually diverse fabric of modern America is encouraging.

If the Boy Scouts wish to remain relevant in the modern era, they must start by changing their discriminatory and bigoted attitudes towards gay youth and adult volunteers.

Scouting truly is for ALL Boys!

Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

A Boy Scout First

Locked in The American Dream Closet

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9 comments

  1. Tom

    Billions of us have an unending combination of tendencies, predispositions, penchants, affinities, leanings, bents, traits, habits, orientations, and propensities. Some are DNA driven, some environmentally or socially nurtured, others are through personal choice. Some violent; some innocuous. Some acceptable; some not. Some criminal, many not. They influence how we see life, each other, and self.

    All personal conditions drive our inner desires to act. Some we live and learn to deal with and control. Some struggle over a lifetime; some we outlive. When we “get over” one we find we have another, and have to go through the ‘control process’ all over again. Care is needed when creating ‘rights’ for inclinations.

    ‘Moral’ compasses provide the framework in which we establish local, state, national, and global laws. These ‘traditions’ orient our individual and group perspectives, and provided the framework for establishing Scouting, and the original Scout Oath and Law, especially to its mission and charter.

    The current potential expanded ‘inclusion’ is useful. It reflects old guidance to the developing and explorative nature of boys and young men (from my 1960 edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook (p 425)). Scouting has always been about “the boy,” not the adult. Still, of all the millions of combinations of orientations that exist, including sexual, why is ‘Gay Lifestyle’ or LGBT choices the ones that is deserving of special treatment more than all the uncounted others “kept hidden in the closet?”

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  6. Paul Davidson

    Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a Eagle Scout Application form, I found a blank form here http://goo.gl/ozxwWb. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials how to fill it out and a few related forms that you might find useful.

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  8. Gene Grisser

    The whole Gay Boy Scout argument is bogus. I was in Scouts my whole childhood and we were not supposed to be sexually active as part of the “morally straight” charge. NO sex, none. Not with girls, boys, animals. Boys were not tested on sexual preference. Leaders, that was another story and yest gay leaders not allowed. Think about it. Would a girl scout troop think it was OK for my straight, 25 yo son to take a troop of Juniors out for a weekend in the woods? Why would a Boy Scout troop think it was OK for a gay male to take the boys out? Geez. Scouts themselves were expected to abstain form sex, so gay or straight was not permissible. Gay boy scouts would not be expected to act on sexual impulses just as straight boys were held to that standard. I truly think the nation has lost it’s way when boys are allowed into the girls bathroom but a 7 yo boy gets suspended for sharing a bible verse with a friend at lunch. Truly the inmates are running the nut house.

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    • Here’s the thing: SOME 25-year-old straight men would have no problem taking a Girl Scout group camping. He isn’t going to be leering at them and thinking of new and devious ways to rape them, the same goes for a gay Scout leader. Remember, pedophilia isn’t just for the gays!

      Also, the nation lost its way when it decided that God said some people could be discriminated against. Why? Because Bible. Kids are getting suspended from school for giving another student ibuprofen (that was a big deal even in my ancient HS days of the early 90s), having a plastic butter knife (again, a student at my elementary school…1983 or so), among other things. Interestingly, the one constant is the ignoring of bullying…

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