A Father Laments the Transgender Scouts of America

What is the Boy Scouts if it is stripped of “boy-ness”?

My oldest son, who is now 22, started in the Boy Scouts of America in the 5th grade. Assisted by the diligence and sacrifice of adult leaders, he achieved the rank of Arrow of Light in one short year. For anyone involved in Scouting, this is no small feat. Leo was a quiet reserved boy. He never relished speaking in public. He also did not feel comfortable making decisions, let alone leading others. He felt deeply about his faith, his country, and his family—all the wonderful qualities that are taught in the Scouts. But he did not have a reason to reflect deeply or speak publicly about these things before he entered the program. Scouting gave this young idealistic man his voice.

Over the years, Leo learned to speak in public comfortably, excel in many positions of leadership, and to confidently and articulately express his convictions. As he neared his 18th birthday, Leo achieved Eagle, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. In his work after Scouts, Leo has exemplified the virtues that he learned and was able to cultivate in the Boy Scouts of America.

My second son, Nicholas, is a very different boy. While Leo was quiet and contemplative, Nicholas was an athlete and gregarious. He was a natural leader. On the soccer field, Nicholas was admired, almost idealized. He never stepped back from a fight, on the soccer field, or in a debate at school. However much people gravitated towards Nicholas, though, he was a reluctant leader. To be responsible for others caused too much pressure. Nicholas would rather just take care of himself. He started Scouts in 2nd grade, finished the year, and then quit to spend more time on soccer. He took it up again in 5th grade.

In the Boy Scouts, Nicholas began in Leo’s well established shadow. He was satisfied with taking a back seat and with not being burdened by the responsibility of concern for others. Yet when Leo, left, so did most of the older boys. Nicholas discovered that he was one of the only older boys left. Someone had to take the younger boys under their wing, and Nicholas rose to the occasion. At first, the natural reluctance kicked in. Eventually, however, the training of the program kicked harder. When Nicholas saw how much he had to teach and how much these younger boys needed a teacher, the leader that Nicholas was made to be emerged. Nicholas earned the prestigious Eagle Scout rank at 18, and today he works at the Scout Museum Shop in Irving, Texas. After earning his Eagle, he was an adult leader at summer camp and at high adventure camp in Canada.

My two youngest sons are in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts respectively. One is much like Leo, and he is having an experience similar to Leo’s respecting public speaking and confidence. The other is more like Nicholas, a natural leader, who is learning what it means to use your God-given skills to help others instead of just skating by looking out for yourself.

I share these stories about my sons because I want to be clear about the heaviness of my heart when I say we will soon be forced to leave this organization that has done so much good for our family.

The Boy Scouts of America, once upon a time, was a fine organization dedicated to bringing out the best in boys and helping them to grow into admirable men. But the institution has now caved to the demands of “social justice” to such a degree that it is impossible even for church-affiliated troops to escape the tentacles of political correctness.

​Our pack and troop are chartered through a Catholic parish. My boys have earned all of the Catholic awards the Scouts have to offer. The curriculum, up to now, has been extensive and steeped in Catholic tradition. The Scout Law aligns well with Catholic teaching. “A Scout is Kind” means that everyone no matter his or her race, socio-economic background, sex, religion, or even sexual orientation deserves to be treated with the dignity befitting a child of God.

When the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow openly gay Scouts to join, it was met with some conflict in our troop. The Catholic Catechism states that men and women who have a homosexual disposition “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and “unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The Catechism also considers homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered” and “[h]omosexual persons are called to chastity.” The Church has taught, and we have taught the children in our troop  to “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” We cannot, in good conscience or consistent with our faith, do otherwise.

No boy should be left out of the great program of Boy Scouts and we had no inclination to exclude. But would we now have to go against Catholic teaching and accept the sin as “ordered?” It posed a problematic question for us. We waited for a response from the Bishop of Dallas, but none came. So we decided to stay in the organization and things went on as before. How often is the question of sex even discussed among the boys? Very seldom in any official capacity, it turns out.

Then openly gay adult Scout leaders were permitted to lead Scout organizations. We knew that allowing gay Scouts into the program was just a way for the Left to attempt to get a toe-hold into the organization. We knew, further, that this was just  the beginning of an effort to undermine Boy Scouts. Even so, our own troop remained wholesome as well as welcoming, so we stayed.

Now, the BSA has seen fit to allow girls whose parents identify them as “boys” to join the Boy Scouts. For our family, this is the last straw.

One of the best qualities of Boy Scouts has been that it celebrates “boy-ness.” It recognizes that being a boy is not a pathological state. While much of our society is inclined to treat boys as they would poorly behaved girls, the Boy Scouts seeks to channel masculine energy rather than to squash it. Boys are rambunctious, prone to aggressiveness, and competitive. Unchecked, these traits become a problem. But when they are understood and channeled, wonderful growth can result.

This tragedy of well-meaning parents of girls who may demonstrate some masculine characteristics, changing their “identification” to comport with the confusion of an over-sexualized society is harming children. There is nothing wrong with a more masculine girl, but she is not going to become an actual boy. To suggest otherwise is to try to please girls who are unhappy about the fact by denying that there is anything essential in being male. Not only is this confusing and harmful for the child in question, it is confusing and harmful for the those who must witness and “tolerate” it.  For the Boy Scouts, it will be a denial of reality that strips them of their essential purpose.

This idea of gender identification depends solely on the proposition that there is no difference between boys and girls and that “girl-ness” and “boy-ness” are merely learned behavior. The trans-gendered ethos suggests that gender is fluid, subjective, and solely up to the feelings of the individual. That removes its specialness, its God-given quality. This idea is tragic for both boys and girls. And for Boy Scouts to accept it is to deny their purpose in existing.

As a result of this decision, our family will leave this organization. This once illustrious and important institution will fall as more parents and boys leave. It is no longer a bulwark against the excesses of our society. It has become its pitiful agent.

About Tony Chernoff

Tony Chernoff is a husband and the father of one daughter and four sons, all in Scouts, with two reaching the rank of Eagle. Tony has been a Scout leader for over ten years, and he currently is Cubmaster of a Cub Scout Pack at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Irving, TX.

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23 responses to “A Father Laments the Transgender Scouts of America”

  1. Tony, I wish you could find a way to stay. What you have to give to those boys is more than what could be taken from you.
    Thanks for writing.

  2. As the father of two Eagle Scouts and a former adult leader in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and a veteran of many summer camps (including Philmont), it saddens me that National has sold out to the gay activists. What would Norman Rockwell think?

    • I was in Scouting in the 70s and 80s; one of the best moves I ever made! Fast forward to 2008 when my son became a Cub Scout and I signed up to be an adult leader. Still seemed to be a decent program but I saw the shine was coming off. One particular item which troubled me was observing a handful of Packs and Troops that had “off the books” female scouts. I’m not entirely disappointed now my son hung up his Webelos uniform to concentrate on Play Station…

  3. My daughter knows a surprising number of sexually confused kids and something I’ve noted is they all have a very fluid attitude with this stuff. I know of some of my daughter’s classmates who in less than two years have gone from being self professed transgenders to homosexuals to bisexual to asexual to straight.

    You know BSA won’t kick out a transgender who suddenly decides she was a girl after all. I’m starting to think they might as well get it over with and drop reference to “Boy” in the organization’s name and literature…

  4. As you choose your path forward consider that the goal of The Left is not to make these male institutions (Boy Scouts, football, the military) fall in line with political correctness. To the contrary, their goal is to destroy the institutions outrigtht by driving away the people that sustain them. They want to tear down the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Sexuality and gender issues are Just a means to an end. It’s unfortunate the BSA has had quizzlings like Bob Gates at its head but ultimately the membership IS scouting. Don’t give The Left what it wants by abandoning the organization.

    • It’s quislings, and you’re right about the true motivation of the Left. Their intent is to eradicate all traditionally male institutions: Scouting, fraternities, all-male clubs of any sort. But it is not enough to just continue to sustain these institutions through their coerced mutation; the mutation itself must be resisted. If that proves impossible, then the institutions must go underground, become like the Freemasons of old.

      • That’s an interesting idea. The Republic of Vietnam had surprisingly active surprisingly active Boy and Girl Scout organizations but the Hanoi Regime outlawed them after their 1975 victory. Despite that, scout units still managed to survive much like you describe…

      • I think this is the way things will have to go. Sad & scary to think that principled, moral Americans will be driven underground like the once-persecuted Christians of the early church. And eventually Christians themselves will be underground again.
        We must prevent this before it becomes necessary to hide. If President Trump succeeds in appointing constitutionalists to the Supreme Court and non-activist judges to other courts, then this mess can be turned around. We must help him succeed.

    • But staying in these compromised institutions puts one at risk of becoming tainted by their viewpoint, until finally oneself becomes changed for the worse.

      • That’s true in many instances but in the author’s I don’t see how he himself could become tainted. He’s a fervent Catholic (and his church sponsors the Cub pack) who believes he’s called to ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. His belief is so firm that he’s decided to leave an organization that obviously is at odds with his belief. But the truth is, no one can take his faith from him. It’s impossible. His faith, the most important thing to him, is not at risk. Christian theology/doctrine has always cautioned -based on the apostle Paul- that one be careful what they base their faith on lest that edifice be burned down, and their faith with it. For a Christian (which the author clearly is), the foundation is simply – Christ: incarnated, crucified, resurrected, ascended, returning. That is where his strength is, so really, the Scouts are no threat on that level.
        I think religiously minded people of faith like Tony actually bring more to bear being inside than outside. The boys will eventually be abandoned and left to ‘leaders’ with the Anything Goes attitude.
        He also clearly finds that boys benefit from being able to to be boys, benefit from the Scouts, and benefit from good Scout leaders and good Scout programs. It also sounds like he himself truly loved doing what he did/is doing in the Scouts and feels he’s made a difference there.
        If he could find a way to stay, to work within and despite the aberrant ‘new’ Scouts, the boys will be the better for it. And yet, I understand that his leaving is a personal and also public ‘protest’ against such aberrancy: not just a contra-Left protest, but also a Christian protest.
        But the way I read the author’s argument for leaving, his paramount reason is faith based. Maybe I read it wrong. ?

  5. Much to do about nothing. The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has accepted transgender members for years.
    Also Scouts Canada programs are for ALL kids, with the different programmes based on age, not sex or gender. Scouts Canada offers seven challenging programs for boys, girls, and young adults aged 5 – 26.
    Plus there is a growing number of girls who want to join the BSA, because the program seems more suited to their ambitions. Maybe Scouts USA should start looking at the Scouts Canada setup to resolve on-going and future issues instead of wasting money on failing legal actions and denying some kids the opportunities that other kids get.

    • So do tell me something; where were you when I was a Girl Scout Leader and was treated as a second class citizen by written rules and prevailing culture within the organization?

      • Cry me a river, and stop trying to infiltrate the male domain. The only reason there is a Girl Scout organization was due to the success of the Boy Scout organization and to placate women who felt left out. Like it or not, it’s a man’s world, sweetie, and you should be happy enough that women here aren’t treated as chattel like they are in many other countries. A real man treats a women with respect, and a real women respects that in a man. You can shove your “equality” which is only meant to wussify men. And it’s telling that the only time women mention the word, vagina, is when they are being “demeaned” in their own minds?

      • Are you a guy guy, or a girl who thinks she’s a guy? /

      • Haha! No, just a basic model guy. But here is my story.

        Girl Scout Troops require two certified adult leaders. I volunteered to take spot #2 at my daughter’s Troop when nobody else was willing to do so. Although this allowed us to maintain the troop, it limited what we could do as Girl Scouts bar males from attending overnight trips. And doing day to day administrative stuff was a hassle as a majority of the (female) adult leaders within the Council resented my presence to the point I occasionally got The Silent Treatment.

        I was also a Boy Scout adult leader for a time. There were numerous full blown female adult leaders and there were no restrictions placed on them. The point I was trying to get to with the original poster was the lack of concern over GSUSA’s apartheid policies.

      • All the more reason to look at the Scouts Canada formats. I had no problems as a boy scout interacting with girl scouts. And I don’t recall any of my fellow scouts having any issues.

  6. Based on my experience of the BSA in the 70’s, it was all total BS.
    In addition to the old fashioned BS, borrowed from a 19th century imperialist, racist crypto-Nazi & “repressed homosexual” Brit (according to one biographer) Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Baden-Powell,_1st_Baron_Baden-Powell, they’re now adding leftist 21st century BS, presumably so they can keep their 501( c ) designation and the donation money they get from big companies and their executives who serve on the national Bsa board to show their “community mindedness” on their corporate CV’s while, of course, writing big checks. ( See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recipients_of_the_Silver_Antelope_Award ) Where back in the 70’s & 80’s, based on my experience, the BSA quietly threw out paedophiles and covered it up, now they’re adopting wholesale the left’s LGBTQ agenda (and yes, I know well that not every gay is a paedophile.)

    No matter how painful leaving the BSA is to the author, IMHO well could he say good riddance to the BSA.

    My father used my participation in the program as a basis for HIS getting into the BSA as an adult leader, hoping it’d do me some good & getting him out of the house. His Depression-era parents couldn’t afford to have him in the BSA, assuming the 1930’s Catholic Church would have allowed it, so I had to join, so he could. The BSA created special internal “secret societies” honor camping “orders” (notably forbidden to Catholics) to get free labor in the upkeep of their camping reservations out of the kids and parents elected to the honor camping societies. The BSA gave the “adult leaders” chances to “earn” BS decorations that they had sewn onto their uniforms. In the end, my old man and a friend of his had more rows of ribbons on their uniform shirts representing the BSA decorations received than a Marshal of the former Soviet Union.

    • The Order of the Arrow is on par with Skull and Bones and Council on Foreign Relations? Wow. Want the secret handshake? Sorry, can’t do it; you’re not a member!

      • Sorry. Got up on the dumb side of the bed this AM. What do you mean? Are you telling me my experiences didn’t happen? Was Baden-Powell not the Boy Scouts founder? Was he not an English imperialist? Haven’t the Boy Scouts had their own paedophile & paedophile cover-up problems? Isn’t the Order of the Arrow a secret society with its own secret words & yes, secret handshake? Don’t OA inductees have to do labor service like I had to do any more? Don’t big shot politicians & businessmen get the “Silver Antelope” and use it as a virtue signal?

      • Oh, I’m not necessarily denying what you say. It’s cynical as can be but definitely defensible!

        BTW, I’m an Order of the Arrow member and I’m not entirely certain it’s truly a secret society. Yeah, there are handshakes and mottos which I know and which I wouldn’t talk about to non-members. But that said, OA opens up the Ordeal/initiation process to parents if they so choose to observe. I’ve also seen write-ups on the internet which are quite accurate. So it’s not exactly like Freemasonry.

    • Your experiences color your perceptions of Scouting in one way, my own color mine in another way. I am an Eagle Scout from the 70s and my experience was the opposite of yours. And my experience generally is that the quality of any boy’s Scouting experience is determined by the adult leaders of his troop. Some are great (mine were), some good, some not so good, and some maybe even bad. My father is an Eagle Scout from the 40s and he, too, had a great experience. Of course the mentality and circumstances of the boy himself also determine whether Scouting for him is a positive experience. I am sure there were boys even in my own excellent troop who, were you to ask them today, would say their experience was not as uniformly positive as was my own. I can’t speak to your father, but I never saw anyone’s father nor my own scoutmasters use the BSA for their own vanity’s sake.

      All of the things you criticize–uniforms, regalia, OA–are things that make the experience especially appealing to boys. Only today is it suspect to base activities on the mental and emotional makeup of boys. But of course it has never been the case that Scouting appeals to every single boy ever. Obviously it did not to you. But fashioning your own unsatisfying experience into an indictment of the entire program, by tossing out words like “crypto-Nazi” and “imperialist” (how can a man who preceded the Nazis be a “crypto Nazi” anyway?) seems like a cheap attack on something that at bottom you just didn’t like.

      The fact is that there is nothing–nothing–in history or in life that is uniformly positive, that has no warts or evils associated with it. Calling out the BSA for being only what it is–an organization of human beings, some of whom are more flawed than others–and arguing that these shortcomings mean we are better off rid of it entirely; well, this sort of reasoning just contributes to the rather unhealthy position boys (in the US anyway) find themselves in today, where the entire range of their normal behaviors are pathologized and the focus of merciless, unrelenting efforts, not just to “correct” but to stamp out (stamp, as in boot stamping on a boy’s face, forever).

    • This is no reflection on the scouts themselves; this is you being a surrogate for your father’s thwarted childhood ambitions. This is unfortunately a not-uncommon story of parents of either sex, attempting to re-live their unfulfilled dreams through their children. This scenario is a nightmare for the child who does not share the parent’s dreams. If is perfectly understandable that you hate the very idea of scouting, and this is the fault of your father. You have my sympathies.