When I was pregnant with my first son, a gay friend asked me how I would feel if my son told me he was gay. My first reaction was that I’d be thrilled. Gay men love their mothers. But when I really thought about it… when I thought of the experiences of my GLBT friends and family, I knew that if I had a gay son that I would be incredibly sad for him. Not sad because he was gay. Sad, rather, from knowing the intolerance that exists in this world. My son would have to face a whole new set of challenges. There would be discrimination. There could be violence. A world of hurt, of hate, would be waiting for him. And that broke my heart just thinking about it.
Over eight years later since I had that conversation with my friend, much has changed in this country. We have a President who openly supports gay marriage. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the military has been overthrown. Ellen, an openly gay celebrity, is the spokesperson for a major retail company. The culture is slowly shifting in the right direction. I hope that before my children are adults, we’ll see gay marriage legalized in this country. I hope that my fears of having a gay child living in a world of hatred won’t ever have to be realized.
But then I’m reminded of that while this may be the 21st century, our humanity hasn’t caught up.
Last week, it was all over the news that a Moraga teen, Ryan Andresen, was refused his Eagle Scout award because he recently came out as gay. While Ryan had completed all of the requirements to earn his Eagle Scout badge, the Boy Scouts of America bans membership for gays. Their anti-gay policy isn’t one that is archaically old. The policy came into effect in 1991 and was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. The Boy Scouts of America decided 21 years ago to purposefully and wilfully discriminate.
I made the decision long before my son was old enough to join the organization that we would never join until the BSA ended their policy. Some of my friends who have joined the BSA in recent years keep trying to convince me that boycotting the organization isn’t the way to go. They insist that I’d be more powerful by trying to work to change it from the inside.
Perhaps there is some truth to that. Then I think of Ryan, a Bay Area teen who bravely told his truth and was punished for it. If the Bay Area chapters aren’t banning the policy, who will? And I wonder how my GLBT friends and family would feel knowing that I willingly joined an organization that openly discriminated against them. To me, the BSA uniform is a symbol of intolerance to the gay community.
So rather than try to make changes on “the inside,” I will stand in solidarity with my gay family who does not get the opportunity to join the Boy Scouts of America. Instead, I chose to continue to boycott the BSA. My children won’t belong to the organization. We won’t by their popcorn.
If the Boy Scouts of America ends their homophobic, anti-gay policies, I promise that I will be the first to sign up my sons… Proud to join an organization that finally did the right thing. Until then, I choose to stand on the right side of history and hope for a better world.