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Gays are the least of the Boy Scouts' problems...

To this day, my mother speaks with disappointment that I made it up to Life Scout then decided to drop out. For those of you without 3 generations of Boy Scouts in your family, allow me to clarify...that is the step before Eagle Scout. It wasn't that I had some grand complaint against the organization at that point...I was lazy and in high school. Busy with 3 varsity sports, marching band, girls, and not really wanting to do a community service project that would be both a time suck and place me farther down the ladder of lame than I already was.

But still, that was several years of camping, first aid, learning how to carve wood, build a fire, paddle a canoe--shoot a gun seems relevant in today's cultural debate. Looking back, they were important skills. Not that you could drop me a forest and I'd survive for weeks without provisions. More like when my own son or daughter asks me if I know how to apply a tourniquet or use two sticks to start a fire I can say with confidence, "I do."

That's really beside the point these days though. The real question is whether I would send my child to the BSA to get those skills. The answer, most definitely, is I would not. And allowing gays into the group neither contributes to nor fixes the poor positioning of the Boy Scouts for the future.

As one news story described this afternoon, membership and money have both long been on the decline. Part of the reason may well be in the name--Boy Scouts. That gender-specific name sort of isolates itself in today's modern world as outdated and backwards. For all the "bringing up men" theory behind why Boy Scouts are needed, the opposite seems to be true. As I told one old friend from Boy Scout days, there are plenty of park districts and youth organizations that have campouts or kayaking trips or first aid classes...without the gender-specific, gay-excluding atmosphere, creepy uniforms, or series of ranks, etc..

In short, allow gays or don't. It's complicated...churches will back out of hosting Troops. Sponsors will pull money. Parents will pull kids. But you backed yourself into this corner by taking a stand in the first place. The fact that you don't allow gays isn't some deciding factor. More like a symptom that doesn't really get to the heart of why this American tradition may be slowly fading away. It's not like this is the only adaptation that has kept Boy Scouts out of the contemporary childhood conversation.

It's about, in total, the lack of adaptation generally. It's the same reason pews are empty. It's the same reason kids are playing lacrosse and soccer instead of baseball and football. We live in changing times. Kids don't really fly kites, setup lemonade stands, or play marbles so much either.