|Boy Scouts’ Ban on Gays|
I see “change from within” happening, and as much as I might want to leave, I am even more excited to stay and be a part of it
by Sam Noble
I would like to share two recent experiences, both of which happened here in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana.
Given recent news coverage of Boy Scouts of America potentially allowing gay members and leaders, I was more interested than I otherwise would have been when several weeks ago I received an invitation to a BSA luncheon. As an Eagle Scout, I was invited to the local BSA district-sponsored event. I decided to attend but first wanted to find out the local district’s views on gay Scouting participation. I did not expect a negative response, but what I received was completely positive and affirming. The district director welcomed me to continue to be a part of Scouting and positively influence young people in my community –regardless of my sexual orientation.
I quickly RSVP’d to the lunch and enjoyed sitting at a table along with the director. Several speeches and presentations during the lunch described the mutual benefits between Scouting and the local community. I thought back to all I learned and experienced as a Boy Scout, more than a decade ago, of what a positive influence the program was in my own life.
Nothing was said at the lunch about gays in BSA. As much as I would have loved having that conversation, that was not the purpose of the lunch.
An opportunity to share my views with a more widespread audience occurred almost concurrently. Our local newspaper published a letter shaming BSA for possibly allowing participation from openly gay individuals. The fact that the letter was written by a member of my LDS home ward made it especially personal me. I was not offended by what was said (I once held very ignorant views myself), but I felt a duty to share my own experience that contradicted statements in the letter. My response was published a week later.
Unfortunately, not as many people now read the newspaper as once did, but still several thanked me for what I had written. One comment from an online reader deserves more consideration. He said, “As a fellow Eagle, I couldn’t agree more. I often feel like shunning my membership in Scouts, but realize it needs to be a change from within.”
I know I’m not alone in having gone through the same thought process with Boy Scouts/the church/BYU/my family/my life: I’m not wanted/I’m uncomfortable/they hate me/I don’t fit/it’s hopeless and so I’m leaving/cutting ties/rejecting them/dropping out/ending it. But I see that “change from within” happening, and as much as I might want to leave, I am even more excited to stay and be a part of it.
Whether within yourself, your family, church, community, school, social network, or any other circle of influence, you have something to offer. That something can be a catalyst of change for the better. And your “staying” today might just make it that much easier for someone else to “stay” tomorrow.