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.

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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.