Updated: Jun 17
This letter is in response to Nashville Councilman Steve Glover and a recent post on his personal FB page about Scouting. He has received a lot of coverage for this in the news, but he simply states what is circulating among some groups who are taking aim at Scouting for inclusion changes and not the issue at hand, which is compensating victims of molestation at the hands of a few men who harmed them. The letter stands below:
Dear. Mr. Glover,
I am a resident of Nashville, mom to a recent Eagle, wife of an Asst. Scoutmaster and also a soon to be leader as I begin my training next month. Yesterday I saw all the hullabaloo surrounding your post on FB. This letter has come forth to address your stance on Scouting and your need to not call out the crimes against boys at the hands of a few morally devious pedophiles, but instead openly gay boys, trans children and girls. This morning I researched Scouting to confirm things I have read or been told by our local Council since my family became involved in Scouting in 2012. There are many commentaries/opinion pieces and incorrect “news” stories about Scouting that are written by people not involved with the organization that I realize the waters have become very muddied.
(Edited:) It is not the task of this letter to shame you or tell you that your opinions on the LGBT community are wrong. I do not seek to sway you on that opinion or whether they should have access to Scouting or whether or not girls should be allowed. I do, however, seek to give you facts that are left out of opinion pieces that have been written these last few years as Scouting has sought to become relevant once again in our nation.
Did you know Scouts peaked around 1972 with over 6 million boys AND GIRLS enrolled around the nation? That was the year I was born. 47 years ago, THAT was the peak of Scouting. Not in 2014 when Scouts made the decision to allow openly gay boys to be involved. That year the number was 2,419,000. Not in 2017, when the announcement was made to allow transgender boys as well as allow girls in to single gender Cub and Scout troops. That year the numbers jumped to 2,659,439.
Speaking of girls, as an Eagle Scout, you probably know that girls were ALREADY in Scouting and have been since 1971 in the Venturing arm. In fact, each year when I drop my son (Eagle ’19) and my husband (an Asst. Scoutmaster) off at Boxwell, I see the Venturing girls who are serving as summer staff for the campers.
When I read your post and the subsequent article you shared, I wanted to be surprised, but was not. Nor was I angry at you. I was, however, frustrated at the lack of acknowledgement in the article for the men and boys who have been molested at the hands of pedophiles. The cover-ups, the moving Scoutmasters from troop to troop instead of reporting at the very least, banning them from EVER working with children is egregious and horrific. (Edited:) The harm done to those young men, the reflective harm to every great mentor serving as Scoutmasters and the harm to the organization by a few people who covered this issue within some Councils in an effort to protect Scouting instead of the boys is the reason Scouts is in bankruptcy. The moral bankruptcy is in our humanity and the small number of men who took advantage of their role as leaders to serve themselves. Not, as you say, in sexuality or gender. You may be able to make, though not stand by, the stance of the Mormon church on Scouting as part of the need to file bankruptcy, however, the Mormon church separation from the BSA was not set to take place until this year, 2020.
I will be honest with you; I was one of those people who sat on pins and needles as these changes were made. We were fine with the allowance of openly gay boys into troops. Let’s stop here. The Scouts recognized OPENLY GAY BOYS. We all know boys who are homosexual have always been in Scout troops. To pretend this was not happening is absurd. This removed the don’t ask don’t tell policy and allowed these boys to continue to thrive and it was the right thing to do. The allowance of trans boy added another element. Seeing all the changes made me cautious as I knew more was coming. But it was the right thing to do. It was, I’ll admit, the allowance of girls into the non-Venture parts of Scouting that brought me personal pause, even as a woman and mom of a girl. I know I did not want my son in a co-ed troop. Had we wanted that; we would have chosen Venturing. I DO believe boys needs room to be boys with out the added layers of male/female dynamics and I feel the same for girls. As Scouts rolled out the plan and I had a better understanding of how this would work, I felt more peace about changing an organization our family has called home.
But, beyond all of these things, it is my frustration that your post and all articles similar to the one you posted that sheds a shadow on my son’s accomplishments, the dedication of so many, including in our own Middle Tennessee Council and ongoing work that will continue to compel the organization forward. You said in the article you posted, “Lost is the opportunity for boys/young men that could have become future leaders with the guidance of Scouts.” When was this lost? Was it lost in 2014 when openly gay boys were admitted? Does this loss mean I should inform my son that his work toward Eagle carries no value, that his tremendous scholarship opportunities and college acceptances (assisted by the weight of the Eagle) are meaningless because the Scouts affirmed openly gay boys? Or, was it lost in 2019 when BSA knew it had to admit to and compensate the boys and adult men who were traumatized at the hands of men who took advantage of their position? Does this render my son's Scouting as a lost opportunity?
(Edited:) I say to you and to every conservative news outlet who ignores the issue that ignited the bankruptcy that you are wrong in your assessment of why the bankruptcy happened. I call on you personally to pick up a banner and if you can stand in place of where Scouting is now and not give up and not walk in the door with a chip of judgement on your shoulder to begin to mentor young men and women in our city, not only in your own congregation or neighborhood, but in areas who may not have access to Scouting. I call on you to continue to teach outdoorsmanship and confidence and citizenship. I call on you to lay down your anger and grief of perceived loss and embrace our current generation of youth who need us to serve as leaders.
Scouting is not lost. I watch a group of young men each Tuesday night as they come together to say the Scout Oath and Law, prep for outdoor excursions, learn about citizenship and friendship and yes, inclusion, as our troop has boys from many faiths and skin colors. I proudly stood while my son was read the Charge to Eagles by a local attorney who has been a Scoutmaster in Nashville for nearly 40 years. It was one of the proudest moments in my life as a mom.
I invite you, Councilman Glover, to renew your own commitment to Scouting and see what it holds for our community. But I invite you to come in free of judgement or preconceived ideals.
I think, I believe, you will walk into almost any troop in our city and see exactly what you saw as a boy working toward Eagle. A group of dedicated parents, leaders and boys. Or, you can find one of our newly formed all girl troops and see that they are as dedicated toward the principles of Scouting as you once were.