The challenge of Boy Scouts’s homosexuality policy

My family has a rich Scouting background. I tell people, “We have so many Eagle Scouts, even my gay brother is an Eagle Scout.” It’s true.

I don’t like Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA’s) homosexuality policy, which bars homosexual adult leaders. I’d like a change: our understanding of homosexuality has improved, and BSA’s policy needs to improve, too. But at the same time, I don’t think the public debate appreciates the risk of change.

Every Scout unit is owned by a chartered organization. A charter is a license to use Boy Scouts’s program.

Most chartered organizations have negative views of homosexuality:

  1. 56% of Scouts are in units chartered by religious institutions with officially negative views of homosexuality, like the United Methodist Church, Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church, and the Catholic Church.
  2. 3% of Scouts are in units chartered by religious institutions that accept homosexuality, like the United Church of Christ.
  3. The remaining 41% are in units chartered by civic or educational organizations, and their stances can vary. For example, a University Park, Texas unit, chartered by a parents’ club, barred a homosexual parent from leadership based on objections of other parents. (My son’s pack is chartered by a PTA.)

Even when accounting for variances within institutions–for example, some United Methodist congregations are accepting of homosexuality, some United Church of Christ congregations don’t accept it–it’s still likely that most chartered organizations have negative views of homosexuality.

The BSA is in a difficult spot: its ultimate power, its livelihood, rests in chartering organizations–they run the Scouting units, they provide all the youth, and they have the final voting authority in BSA.

Can BSA survive if it angers most its chartering organizations?

I wish BSA could be neutral, letting chartered organizations do their own homosexuality policies, like what was recently proposed. But in seeking change, I don’t want to recklessly harm or destroy the centerpiece of the American Scouting movement.

I’m sure some of you will say this is still perpetuating discrimination. That’s just not true. It has taken decades, sometimes centuries, for society to correct civil rights problems. It’s not reasonable to expect the BSA to make instant-presto changes, especially given that it must be sensitive to the policies of its chartered organizations.

The ACLU’s scorched earth war on Boy Scouts isn’t the right solution. We can do this better, and we can do it right, with a pragmatic, dialogue-rich approach. In the end, destroying the organization is not the right way to fix its policies.

Circle 10 Council redistricting

Circle 10 Council, the Boy Scout council for the Dallas, TX area, is realigning its districts. The council thinks it hasn’t been done for at least 30 years. It’s time!

As a former District Commissioner for the White Rock District, I think this makes a ton of sense. The districts are too different in resources, members, and geography, and they sometimes pointlessly separate common communities. The proposal helps a lot.

So far Circle 10 has not released maps. I needed to figure out some mapmaking tools for my doctoral work anyway, so I thought I would make the maps myself. So I present to you Circle 10 Council’s new districts!

IMPORTANT: I am doing this on my own. This was not requested by the council. Also, the guidance I found wasn’t always fully precise, so I had to interpret in some areas.

Click on each image for a larger version.

Start with Dallas County:

Interesting changes:

  • White Rock and White Buffalo districts merged. (See detail below.)
  • North Traildivided into 3 parts:
    1. Fair Park area (formerly part of Comanche), downtown, and West View District are combined with the Park Cities part of North Trail. (See detail below.)
    2. Richardson ISD portion.
    3. Dallas ISD north of Northwest Highway, including Dallas ISD portions that were part of North District.
  • North becomes only Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.
  • Gray Owl gets split up. (See detail below.)
  • Unchanged:
    • Wisdom Trail
    • Mountain Lake
    • Western Star
    • Mustang

Here’s the merged White Rock/White Buffalo districts:

I always thought White Buffalo and White Rock should be combined. Both districts have more in common than other adjacent areas. Also, White Buffalo’s few traditional units didn’t make sense in a sea of program units.

Here’s Gray Owl:

It’s split into two parts:

  1. Garland ISD
  2. Rockwall County and Wylie and Communities ISDs. I think it also includes Royse City ISD, but Circle 10’s guidance wasn’t clear.

Here’s Collin County:

(Ignore the discontinuities on top left. I had GIS problems.) Notable changes:

  • Great Plains (Plano ISD) divided into 2 districts along Parker Road.
  • Southern Sky gets split. Southern Sky 1 is Allen ISD and Lovejoy ISD. Southern Sky 2 is Frisco, Celina, and Prosper ISDs.
  • That’s Gray Owl 2 on the bottom right.
  • I think Lone Star is the remainder of Collin County?

Here’s the old Texoma Valley Council, still its own district:

It includes Grayson County, TX and Bryan County, OK. I recently saw a Circle 10 billboard on southbound US 75  just north of the Red River.

Now let’s go southeast to Tawakoni:

This is Hunt and Rains Counties. Not sure this is even changed.

Cherokee gets split up. Part 1 has Kaufman and Van Zandt Counties:

I was in Pack 376 in Van, TX for a few years.

Here’s Cherokee Part 2 and Bluebonnet:

Bluebonnet is Ellis County, and Cherokee Part 2 is Navarro and Henderson Counties.

Let’s go back into Dallas and take a closer look at the southern part of North Trail:

Park Cities area, West View District, and Fair Park area are combined. I like that Scouts from the poorest parts of town will be able to share resources with the wealthiest part of the council.

I am glad Circle 10 is doing this. I hope everything goes smoothly and that each district’s volunteer leaders take this with a positive attitude. It’s for the better of Scouting in the east half of DFW.

Return to Innocence does not feature an American Indian

noac_1994_patchThis may surprise attendees of the 1994 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC).

Order of the Arrow is an honor society of Boy Scouts that uses American Indian imagery.  The 1994 NOAC conference’s closing ceremony prominently featured then-popular Return to Innocence by Enigma in an Indian-themed ceremony.

Only problem is that’s not an Indian voice. It’s an aboriginal Taiwanese chant.

So now you know. The NOAC planners are probably blushing.

Here’s the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JpJjsHgYHA

Jennifer’s Wood Badge

I don’t normally write much about my wife and child in this blog. I am not sure it’s fair to drag them into the limelight of my vast audience (both of you!).

This is an exception.

In Boy Scouts, the most advanced Council-level training is called Wood Badge. It’s an intensive course spanning 6 days, split over two weekend campouts (early Friday morning through late Sunday) or sometimes offered as a weeklong course. After this, you fulfill a “ticket,” which is five major projects related to Scouting.

My wife recently earned her Wood Badge. This is a rare accomplishment for a young female–our son can’t start Tiger Cubs for four more years. Most female Wood Badgers are mid-lifers.

This is her in the presentation ceremony, between the lady at the podium and the guy in the green shirt:

This is us after the ceremony:

Her Wood Badge award is symbolized by the salmon-colored neckerchief and the beads. You can more clearly see the beads on my shirt, hanging off center to the left (my right) of the buttons.

Congratulations, Jennifer!

Once Alec is old enough to start Tiger Cubs, Jennifer will be among the most experienced new Cub Scout leaders!

Alec made me take a picture of his cars while we were at the table:

Central Texas Musuem of Automotive History

The Central Texas Museum of Automotive History is bar none the most awesome auto museum I’ve ever visited. It’s a hidden gem just north of Rosanky, TX on TX 304. I estimate it to have at least 130 cars of many vintages. It also has all sorts of automotive memorabilia.

Typical view down one of the rows:

All these cars are in superb condition.

Stanley Steamer:

Stanley Steamer engine:

1949 Diamond T Pickup:

Oldsmobile Delta 88:

Some goofy Euro-like battery powered car:

Corvette:

Rolls Royce limo:

After touring, I asked the guy at front about a Boy Scout plaque I had seen last time I was there (around 1995?). It turns out that the museum director, Dick Burdick, is an International Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America and has the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, and Silver Buffalo awards:

He is heading the committee planning the 2010 Jamboree.

The plaque I remembered was the 1989 Jamboree plaque, which is at top center:

It used to be in his front office.

Driving up on it, you would have no idea how magnificant the inside is:

I highly recommend this museum to anyone even slightly interested in automotive history.