Dear Boy Scouts of America,
This morning I had to explain to our 6-year-old son why we would not be attending the Boy Scout orientation meeting that is going to be held at his elementary school this evening. I needed to find the words to tell our son, Kaleo, that that Boy Scouts of America has decided that our family is not acceptable or moral and, due to that prejudice and homophobia, our family would not be participating in or supporting the organization. Kaleo looked crestfallen as he sat in his car seat trying to absorb what one of his mama’s had just told him: “Sweetpea, we are not going to join the Boy Scouts because the people who run the group [at the national level] do not like or support our family. Because we have two mamas in our family – instead of a mom and a dad or a single mom or a single dad – the people in charge of the Boy Scouts think that we are not a good family. We don’t want to be a part of a group that doesn’t like us or support us as a family.”
My heart hurt as I had to tell my son that he would not be participating in a group that many of his friends will likely join simply because the parents that love him, care for him, teach him, guide him and raise him are two women. It is appalling to me that my wife and I have to find ways to explain to our 6-year-old that there are people in this world that are so hateful and believe that they are so righteous that they have the authority to declare what is and isn’t “acceptable” as a family unit. Well, Boy Scouts of America, I have a few things to say to you …
First, acceptance is not yours to dole out. Acceptance implies an unequal relationship – one of a superior and inferior – and, as your organization is made up of a membership that spans the community, you are not a superior authority in any aspect of people’s lives; morally, ethically, legally or consciously.
Secondly, how dare you suggest to the public that you are an organization that believes, “Young people need to know to be good and to do good. Few will argue with the importance of teaching values and responsibility to our children – not only right from wrong, but specific, affirmative values such as fairness, courage, honor, and respect for others.” How does discrimination, homophobia, perpetuation of hatred and inequality uphold the values that your organization espouses to embrace?
Finally, your organization is missing out on the privilege of engaging and welcoming our amazing son and his supportive and dedicated family! Kaleo is a young man who has a vivacious and never-ending curiosity of his world and his community; he is a loving and gentle boy who is excited about experiencing and sharing his world. He is a dedicated friend who values and cares for the people that he loves, as well as the people that pass through his life on a daily basis. Kaleo would be an amazing addition to any organization, but I assure you that he will not be a part of yours.
My wife, Amanda, and I will not allow our son and our family to become active in any organization that devalues, discriminates and disrespects our family. Before I was blessed to find the partner and co-parent that I found in Amanda, I had been a single mother and had to support myself and Kaleo without the presence or support of another parental figure. I don’t understand how anyone could feel that a family that models love, respect, support, partnership, dedication, diligence and acceptance is a poor model for any child – but that is the message that your organization has decided to perpetuate. So be it.
The next time our 6-year-old decides to ask questions about why he is not able to join the Boy Scouts and why the Boy Scouts of America believes that his family – the one that is raising him, supporting him and loving him unconditionally – is not good enough to receive respect, recognition and welcome from your organization, I will be giving your national offices a call so that you can explain your reasoning to our son.
Lisa Seese-Paterson and Amanda Paterson