Opinion: Scouting for all

Kent Kirker is a junior Education major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Kent Kirker

For several decades, the Boy Scouts of America has had a policy of banning those whose lifestyles they disagree with — until last May, when they decided on a half-measure to allow openly gay youths to join, but still excluding gay volunteer leaders.

Many Boy Scouts refer to the Scout Oath and Law, stating that a Scout does his “duty to God” and is “morally straight” and “reverent.” What we forget is that not all Scouts believe in the same religion or morals. When many hear the words “morally straight,” they think it refers to a non-homosexual lifestyle. I believe it refers to a lifestyle, one of living truthfully, always seeking what is best and seeing that everyone is included who wants to be.

What are we causing by excluding certain people from the Boy Scouts?  Bobby Kennedy once spoke about a kind of violence he called “the violence of institutions,” stating:

“For when you teach a man to hate and to fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies that he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your home or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies.”

Kennedy spoke these words in a time of civil unrest, one day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Two months later, he too would be gunned down by an assassin’s bullet.  Today, we are faced with another kind of civil unrest. What are we teaching our children if we don’t learn from our past? How do we teach them to be good, honest human beings when we, ourselves don’t live fully by those virtues?

No one should be denied of certain rights entitled to them for their race, creed, religion, sex or orientation. We came to this land fleeing religious persecution, looking for the right to practice freely. We learned through the Civil War that “all men are created equal.” We learned through Women’s Suffrage that women are not lesser components of our nation. We learned through The Civil Rights movement that the color of your skin makes you no less of a person in this place we call “the land of the free.”

Now we must learn that we are all still entitled to certain “unalienable rights,” which still include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the very least, we must take a lesson from our history as a people that overcomes, even when we’re told we can’t. We rise up against the hate, the persecution and opposing opinions with a conviction of our own. We are infinitely, a nation of liberty, justice and equality for all.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”