Boy Scouts of America and the Naked Rambler

Stephen Gough a/k/a the “Naked Rambler”

As reported today in The Scotsman, after spending six years behind bars for walking around Great Britain with no clothes on, 53 year-old Stephen Gough – known as the “Naked Rambler” – was released from prison in Perth, Scotland. Mr. Gough, who left the facility naked, vowed to continue his “vocation in life,” which involves not wearing clothing to demonstrate his non-conformity with social norms, and to prove that people are prejudice.  To make his point, Gough has spent most of the past decade in prison, and much of it in solitary confinement.

Yesterday, after a two-year evaluation of its current policy, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its position to exclude openly gay individuals from membership; stating that “it remains in the best interest of Scouting.”

In truth, Scouting’s “extensive research and evaluations” that were used to support its position provide a convenient smokescreen for the real reasons why the Boy Scouts will continue to ban gays from the organization.

In his 2004 book, Scout’s Honor: A Father’s Unlikely Foray Into the Woods, New York Times reporter Peter Applebome explains that religious organizations represent the largest number of chartering organizations of Boy Scout troops across the county, and at least two large religious sects have threatened to pull all of their charters (and ultimately put Scouting out of business) if the Boy Scouts of America do not maintain a hard line on gay membership. Additionally, many large corporations with non-discrimination policies have withdrawn funding as a result of Scouting’s ban on gays.

So…who is more deserving of our respect?

  • The loony, naked Scotsman who’s willing to give up his freedom to maintain his ideals.

or

  • The respected youth organization that’s willing to compromise its stated underlying values to ensure its own existence.

It’s time for Scouting to man-up; to refuse to be blackmailed by its chartering organizations and financial supporters, regardless of the consequences. Time for Scouting to determine its own future. Time for Scouting to walk the talk…with or without its uniform on.

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