On Choosing a Tolerant Uniform

I’ve been thinking about the recent discussion amongst the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America regarding their policy on discrimination based on sexual orientation, and here’s what I’ve come to:

They shouldn’t change their policy, because I don’t think they actually believe in equality and non-discrimination for gay scouts and leaders. This is a fundamentally religious-oriented group, overwhelmingly housed and funded by churches and religious organizations, and they have their core beliefs (not to mention the fact that they’re a private organization who are allowed to discriminate as openly as they want, per the U.S. Supreme Court).

Let’s not force the Boy Scouts to act in a manner that doesn’t align with their values. Rather, just pull your kid out, no matter how much the local council or the individual troop begs you to stay on the grounds of their own non-discrimination policy. Make a statement to the organization as a whole, and to every individual associated with it: I will put my kid in a youth group which actually believes and enacts non-discrimination. If that group doesn’t exist, start it yourself. It’s time to wear a uniform and a banner of genuine tolerance and equality, not one that jumps on a buzzword bandwagon because they need to increase their membership, income, and donor base.

Like many people, I personally subscribe to the tenets of the Scout Law that I learned as a child and a young teen: to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. But if we’ve somehow talked ourselves into believing that the Boy Scouts of America is the only place to learn and live those values, then we have a much bigger problem than their organization discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

Todd Silverman is a Rabbinic-Education student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles). Prior to entering seminary, he taught elementary school in West LA and worked in the Human Services field with developmentally disabled adults in Syracuse, NY. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout from grades 1-8, until NFTY and his synagogue’s youth group came calling. This post was originally published on California Faith for Equality.