Now that the Boy Scouts of America has re-affirmed its ban against “open or avowed homosexuals,” the BSA should extend an olive branch to its closeted and latently gay members.
This is not as difficult as it seems. By revising its system of merit badges, the 102-year-old BSA could quietly embrace 21st-century diversity while still maintaining the Scout Oath to be “morally straight.”
The BSA currently offers merit badges in 130 skills, ranging from American business to whitewater rafting. Adding new badges is no cakewalk—it can take up to five years, according to the BSA site. Of the 400 or so suggestions received each year, one or two may be chosen.
Those are lousy odds. Better to use existing badges as a foundation, then tweak. Naturally, these changes must be written in homo-code, so as not to arouse heterosexual suspicion.
Also, and this is key, they must not affect a closeted/latently gay scout’s ability to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
A few modest proposals:
Current name of merit badge: Leatherwork
New name: Leatherwork and Bondage
Among the requirements: Demonstrate to your troop leader the safe use of leatherworking tools. Design and create a black leather vest with matching chaps. Wear this outfit to a leather-related business, preferably an S & M bar. Bring your troop leader for protection.
Current name of merit badge: Basketry
New name: Bigger basketry
Among the requirements: Show your troop leader that you can identify each of the following kinds of baskets: plaited, coiffed, ribbed, wicker and uncircumcised. Describe safety precautions you should take with basketry tools and materials. Plan and weave a large round basket, then donate it to a gay bar as a party favor. Bring your troop leader for protection.
Current name of merit badge: Salesmanship
New name: Recruiting
Among the requirements: Learn all about the product or service to be recruited. Write and create a recruiting plan for the product or service in a territory assigned by your troop leader. As a recruitment tool, offer your services, such as pet watching, lawn mowing, car washing or full body massage with warm lotion. Follow up after the service to determine the recruit’s satisfaction. Win a toaster-oven for the most recruits.
Current name of merit badge: Water Sports
New name: Water Sports
Among the requirements: Demonstrate to your troop leader that you know first aid for injuries that could occur while participating in water sports, including hypothermia, heatstroke, blisters and STDs. Know the Water Sports Safety Code. Promise that you will follow it, particularly the rule about using protection while participating in water sports.
With the BSA having decided to stay queer-free, subverting the system from within is the only rational choice. The Girl Scouts have no such dilemma, by the way. Apparently, open lesbians are less scary than their male counterparts. Plus, they sell cookies.
The BSA includes 2.7 million members between ages 7 and 21. Its trademarked motto: “Prepared. For Life.” Whose life, I wonder, and how prepared will they be?
There is no merit badge for homophobia, but the Boy Scouts don’t need one. They live it every day.