(Editor's note: The author, Nathan Edmundson, is age 14 and a member of Augusta Scout Troop 17.)
THE CASE on homosexuality before the Supreme Court right now was brought up by Eagle Scout James Dale, who attended a Boy Scout troop in New Jersey. He reached Eagle Scout in his local troop, but was dismissed from the Boy Scouts when he admitted himself to be a homosexual in the local newspaper. His Scout troop dismissed him because (they said), "If a Boy Scout troop ... could be required to accept a leader whose avowed conduct and opinions contradict the stated mission and message of the organization, it is difficult to see what is left of freedom of association ..."
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Boy Scouts, not being a private organization, could not discriminate on who could be a Scout.
As a Scout, I of course have my own opinions. The Boys Scouts of America is an organization designed to train boys from ages 11-18 to be moral human beings. It also teaches them a myriad of outdoor skills. Eagle Scouts in general show outstanding character that is immediately recognized by anyone around them.
I know of several occasions when an Eagle Scout was hired for a job just because he was one. That says something for the Boy Scouts -- that the title of Eagle is recognized so well for the perseverance and dedication needed to achieve it that employers see the person as a gold coin, if you will, among pennies.
Realistically, not every scout, nor every troop, is familiar with, or representative of the character that is expected. The public perception of Scouts, though, remains high and Norman Rockwell captured this popular perception in many of his paintings. For decades, Rockwell depicted the true nature of the scout in the illustrations he did for the Scout calendar. I recently visited the Norman Rockwell exhibit in Atlanta, and in nearly every room there was a picture of a Scout carrying a child from a flood, or helping an elderly citizen.
I know of an instance when some of my fellow Scouts were conducting a food drive. They passed a building that was apparently burning, and immediately jumped out of the car. The group of Scouts ran into the burning apartment building, found a woman, and carried her out on a makeshift stretcher to the parking lot. As it turned out, the woman was actress Butterfly McQueen, known by her role in Gone with the Wind. The Scouts were too late to save her life, but all were awarded medals of honor for their heroic deed.
That is what is expected of any Scout. The model comes from the scoutmaster. My scoutmaster, Ken Wells, is a role model both as a person and a scoutmaster. He knows nearly everything there is to know about outdoor activities, and is an excellent, strong Christian and moral leader. We never have a weekend camp-out with him without having a prayer meeting Saturday night. He uses discipline and patience to train up all of the boys in the troop.
Homosexuals should not be leading Scout troops because I think that homosexuality violates God's law of nature. However, no one should be refused the opportunity to join the Boy Scouts (with the exception of girls). The BSA was created to help boys lead a good life and develop important life skills, and anyone who can abide by the code and who wants to strengthen their character should be allowed to join.
THE BOY SCOUTS of America have managed themselves competently since the beginning of the last century. Let them continue to do so.