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Greg Songer speaks Out Against The Boy Scouts of America's Policy of Discrimination


Thursday, August 23, 2001, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Opinions Section

Betraying the Scout Oath

I'm a Tarrant County resident, a straight man, and a Boy Scout since age 8. I've been following the controversy about the Boy Scouts of America banning gays from the organization, and I took a stand last weekend by participating in a series of events in Dallas. I learned a lot as a Scout - practical skills and character skills - but they didn't teach me to hate.

The current BSA heads have betrayed the very Scout Oath and Law that they taught me as a Scout in the '60s and '70s. My 1967 Scout handbook defines "morally straight" as being "a good citizen by practicing citizenship - by learning the importance of truth and honor, duty and justice, love of his fellow man, and by acting according to the high standards he has set for himself." Nowhere in that section does it define straight as "heterosexual."

Scouting For All is not a fringe group of gay activists trying to destroy or take over the Scouts. It was started by a straight Scout like me who couldn't understand why they would kick gays (and atheists) out of Scouting. We don't want to force any individual troop to accept gays; we want gay Scouts to be allowed to be members of accepting troops or to be lone Scouts on their own.

By kicking gay Scouts out of the movement, the BSA is denying gay youth the opportunity to have the wonderful experiences I had as a boy and a young man. Gay youths are the most persecuted and misunderstood in today's society; in a way, they are most in need of what Scouting can mean to a boy. The BSA is also telling all Scouts that it's OK to discriminate against gays.

By holding Scouting's feet to the fire on this issue, I'm upholding the values that the organization instilled in me: to stand up for what's right, to respect the rights of others, to treat people justly and give them a fair chance. I only ask the Scouting organization to do the same.

Greg Songer, Fort Worth



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