Boy Scout Leaders Morally Straight and… Gay

Vintage Illustration Boy Scout Handbook 1962Glancing through a Boy Scout handbook, you notice how filled it is with skills you must learn and rules you must follow. before 2013, the rules for joining the Boy Scouts hadn’t changed much from 1960’s when this vintage handbook was written.

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 has finally changed.

In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America finally dropped a longtime ban on gay members, ending its decades long policy, but the antiquated policy that no openly gay adult can serve in a leadership role still remains on the books. For now.


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 had long-held onto this outmoded policy reflecting a time when gays were silent and invisible.



Boy Scouts Troop Leaders vintage illustration

Naturally no gang of boys can turn into good scouts unless it has a good leader

This longtime policy of banning gay adult leaders continues to be  dated  as these vintage illustrations are.

Red White and Blue Scouts

boy scout coke ad Norman Rockwell

Vintage illustration Coca Cola 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.


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 Magazine.

” 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.

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

Boy Scouts Hierarchy Leaders  vintage illustration

Boy Scouting Hierarchy. Vintage Scouting Handbook 1954

Some scouting units lost their sponsors and many corporations have cut off donations because the ban violates their non discrimination policies.

In 2014, Lockheed Martin halted Boy Scout donations over the organizations ban on gays serving as Scout leaders, choosing not to support non-profit organizations that do not  align with its commitment to diversity. It follows  other company’s like UPS, Merck & Co. and Intel in withdrawing support.

In recent years there has been 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. A few summers ago 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.

Boy Scout Scoutmaster  vintage illustration

“The Scout Leader- He is the friend whom you can always turn to for advise. Why does he do all this? Because he believes in Scouting because he likes boys and wants to help them become real men.” Vintage Cub Scout Handbook 1954

In fact, Robert Gates the president of Boy Scouts of America recently called for an end to the groups ban on gay adult leaders, warning Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”

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

As part of being morally straight the Scout is advised “to respect the rights of others, treating them justly, giving them a fair chance.” If being a Scout means doing what is right rather than what is easy, the decision to chance the discriminatory policy is an easy one.

Now that Scouting truly is for ALL Boys, lets give ALL those who wish to lead the scouts a fair chance.

Copyright (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved



  1. It seems that for every two steps we take forward, we take on backward. Good piece. But it made me wonder about the Girl Scouts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on WELCOME and commented:
    me gusta


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