David Frum

04.17.13

Disgusted by the Boy Scouts? Here’s an Alternative

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Since the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their ban on LGBT scouts and Scoutmasters, some parents have made the decision to pull their boys from the group and find an alternative program that does not have discriminative policies.

One such program, Navigators USA (a co-ed organization), has seen its membership double in the past year.

On their website, Navigators USA states:

Navigators USA welcomes all people; boys and girls and adults no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief. We believe the greatest challenge for the future of our planet is whether we will learn how to get along with people different than ourselves.

Last March, the group only had 19 chapters. Now, they have expanded to 45 chapters in 21 states. At the same time, the BSA has been losing membership at a fast rate, dropping 200,00 members since 2011.

This inverse variation relationship between the two groups’ membership can best be explained by looking at Navigators’ roots.

The Navigators originated from BSA Troop 103 in East Harlem, which was also the first troop in America that was started in a shelter serving homeless families. After the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Boy Scouts could bar gay troop leaders in June, 2000, Navigators founder Robin Bossert, who was leading the Harlem troop at the time, said he stayed in the organization for three more years, "while I tried to see if it was going to be possible to change their policy from within." When he realized this wasn't going to happen, he pulled out of BSA and Troop 103 became Navigator Chapter 1.

Bossert’s reasoning behind pulling out of the BSA can also be seen very clearly in the Navigator’s Moral Compass which is their version of the Boy Scout Oath or the Girl Scout Promise.

As a navigator I promise to do my best

To help create a world free of
prejudice and ignorance,

To treat people of every race, creed,
lifestyle and ability
with dignity and respect,

To strengthen my body and
improve my mind
to reach my full potential

To protect our planet and
preserve our freedom