As the proud father of two Eagle Scouts and a Scouting volunteer for close to 20 years, I was terribly disappointed in Paula Rinehart’s op-ed piece (“The Boy Scouts should really be ‘Boy’ Scouts,” Feb. 17).
Her arguments are weakened by using terms like “most” and “thousands” without citing sources, and the inflammatory “seeing a vagina” red herring. It is the same hyperbole that has shaped public discourse over HB2.
The change in Scouting guidance is not a “cave in to political correctness” but a recognition that this small, vulnerable part of our community could benefit from the Scouting experience; this represents the values of Scouting that have enriched the lives of millions, and continues to provide guidance and support as young people navigate the path to adulthood. With Rinehart claiming to be a family therapist, I was struck by her lack of compassion for these young people and their families, whose struggles are compounded by bullying and discrimination, resulting in disproportionate rates of suicide, substance abuse and other harmful activities.
She fails to recognize a major strength of Scouting: It has always welcomed and supported diversity. Athletes, actors, musicians, car junkies, video gamers, hunters, bookworms and others have all benefited from Scouting, each in their own way. This inclusiveness extends to gay young men, who now can participate without fear of being ostracized. This diversity has enriched Scouting, just as the values of Scouting have enhanced teams, marching bands, choirs, ROTC units and countless other activities engaged in by young people.
As I read her article it struck me that if you substituted African-American for transgender, this is a rehash of the sad arguments from decades ago. I hear echoes of “would you want your son to share a tent with a …?” As we have learned, the boys didn’t care. Thankfully they have moved beyond these prejudices. And as recently reported, a Cub Scout Pack in New Jersey welcomed a transgender boy and the kids were fine.
It has been my privilege to witness dozens of young men go through the Scouting experience, to grow in leadership skills, test themselves in adversity, make mistakes and keep trying. For many, it is learning how to collaborate with people they might not sit at the lunch table with, finding there is much that they share while respecting their differences. This is a lot of what is included in being “morally straight” as “Duty to God” means loving your neighbor, especially those who find acceptance more difficult.
Scout Executive Mark Turner is spot-on; Scouting does belong to the people. And the people will continue to support Scouting in changing times, as they have for more than a century. I encourage Ms. Rinehart to rethink her position and join us.
Kennedy is a former Scoutmaster and current Boy Scouts volunteer in Charlotte. Email: mkennedy89@