Boy Scouts Institute GLSEN’s “No Name-Calling Week,” But Don’t Address Gay Slurs Outright

While the Girl Scouts have been very accepting of LGBT youth, the Boys Scouts of America are a completely different organization. With their strong ties to the Mormon Church, is it any surprise that the Boys Scouts do not permit openly gay scout leaders?

It seems the Scouts might be making a small step in the right direction, though, by agreeing to institute “No Name-Calling Week,” an anti-bullying program created by the Gay & Lesbian Support Eduction Network (GLSEN).

In a blog post about No-Name Calling Week, Scouting senior editor Bryan Wendell does not address any anti-LGBT slurs in particular, preferring to keep it to more general “Idiot! Retard! Geek!”

Still, Wendell does provide younger scouts with real antidotes to bullying behavior. Wendell writes: “Intervene whenever you hear an insulting name. This can be as simple as saying, ‘We don’t use that word in our troop.’ ”

While this is all fine and dandy, GLSEN recommends that No Name-Calling Week actually take action against LGBT slurs at the high-school level, providing these educational materials. High-school-age Boy Scouts should have had to engage with these materials, but we doubt that happened.

GLSEN’S Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard (left) told the Huffington Post she was happy the Boy Scouts participated in the anti-bullying program, but that that certainly didn’t do much to dispel the specter of their anti-gay policies.

“I’m delighted the Boy Scouts of America’s official publication is calling on its adult leaders to join with the tens of thousands of educators and other youth-serving professionals who are currently observing No Name-Calling Week in order to improve the lives of millions of youth,” Byard said. “However, the lessons of this week are not enough to counteract the overwhelmingly negative message sent to scouts by the Boy Scouts of America’s continuing anti-LGBT policies. The Boy Scouts of America must recognize that gay people can be—and are—positive contributors to its vision of building respectful and service-oriented leaders of tomorrow.”

Photo via RDECOM, Eliza Byard

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  • LandStander

    No name calling -week- ?! Does that imply that name-calling is A-O.K. to call people mean names the rest of the year?

    A: You douche!

    B: Hey!

    A: What? It’s already Monday yo, holiday is over.

  • LandStander

    @LandStander: Oops, I meant “…imply that name-calling is A-O.K. the rest of the year?”

  • GayGOP

    As an ex-BSA member, who resigned over the gay issue, I’m not buying it. The Mormon and Southern Baptist and Catholic Churches, who make up the vast majority of Troop/Pack sponsors, may OK this, but it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a step forward.

  • Kylew

    Talk about giving crumbs to a starving man. This is a cynical attempt to fool the parents of boys that the Scouts is still an honourable organisation, rather than a meaningful effort to teach proper values. This is like the KKK having a tolerance week.

    As a former boy scout, I was proud to have been a member, until I learned about this discrimination. For me, the boy scouts was the pinnacle of virtuous behaviour in my teenaged world, but knowing that they practice discrimination,I hold them in the utmost contempt.

    How the organisation can still make the boys repeat the boy scout promise:

    “On my honour I promise I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.”

    Without cringing or sniggering,I do not know.

    GLSEN should have told them to go shove their token concession right up their hypocritical asses.

  • the crustybastard

    It’s still okay to be bigoted against gays and atheists, right?


  • Steve

    Boys join Boy Scouts at, roughly, the beginning of puberty, and are members during the period when they first learn about sex. So it is appropriate for BSA leaders to be very careful about, just what they teach the kids about sex. BSA policy has been, since the beginning, that they simply do not teach kids about sex. Instead, when a kid begins to ask those awkward questions, the leader is instructed to refer the kid to his parents or clergy. For the most part, that approach works.

    At the same time, boys are Boy Scouts during the period when they first learn about sex. Boy Scout troops go camping, and usually two or three boys sleep in each tent. It provides an ideal environment for boys to “experiment” with homosexuality.

    The great majority of the straight boys drop out of Boy Scouts shortly after they discover girls. They observe that there are no girls on Boy Scout camping trips, and decide to spend their weekends in places where there are some girls. The gay boys, stay in.

    This provides a very awkward problem for the (very conservative) old men who run the national BSA program. They have traditionally handled this problem by ignoring it. Hence, the policy mentioned above — that they simply do not teach the boys about sex.

    Not talking about sex worked, for a very long time. When BSA started making anti-gay policy, that changed. By circulating the anti-gay policy memos, they started the discussion. After a generation of awkward discussions and court cases, it really is time for them to realize that their discriminatory policy is just wrong. The older kids and young adults, who actually run the program at the local level, know its wrong.

    This outreach to GLSEN might be the first olive branch in a policy war that has gone on for a generation. It clearly is not a full resolution.

    They probably should return to a policy of, not talking about sex. Rescind the “national” anti-gay policy, and allow local chartering organizations to choose their own leaders again. The local preachers and school principles, really are in the best position to know and recruit the best adult leaders.

    BSA can recognize that some of the people are gay, and some are straight, but just leave that discussion outside. The 11-year-old boys should continue to be referred to parents or clergy, or perhaps to school teacher or physician, when the awkward questions are asked. The adults can be careful to refrain from saying things that the children are not ready to hear. And, the program can continue to benefit future generations of kids…

    The other choice, to continue discrimination, will eventually place the BSA squarely in the same category as the KKK and the John Birch Society.

  • ChrisM

    All other Boy Scout discrimination aside, does Queerty really have to criticize the Boy Scouts for not specifically mentioning gay slurs in the very short list of examples of names not to call people? If they’re serious about cracking down on name calling, I’m optimistic that they would discourage gay slurs as well, if only because to these immature boy scouts these are not just slurs but very clever insults as well.

    And you quoted Dr. Byard in your article as if she echoed your point. Dr. Byard’s issue was more sophisticated – that verbal discrimination isn’t the only way the boy scouts have shown their homophobia, and they need to take measures to change that. She is not complaining that the word “fag” didn’t appear in that blog you quoted…

  • Sohobod

    Why do Amaricans always make everything so partisan? The Boy Scout movement is a British invention, and was never meant to have all this heavy religious baggage. I mean, what the hell are the Mormons and the Catholics so involved for?
    Here, the troops are seen much less seen as the arm of any one religious or political group, and pride themselves of being inclusive of any religion. The only unifying semi-political thing about them is that they have to swear allegiance to the Queen, or they’re taken out and shot. But that’s okay.

  • Steve


    The British Boy Scouts, and the World Organization of Scout Movements (WOSM) do not discriminate. The problem is not the Boy Scouts. The problem is the American administrator, the Boy Scout of America.

    The BSA allowed itself to become dependent on the Mormon and Catholic churches, who were BSA’s largest customers (they chartered a lot of units). As with many businesses, after BSA became dependent on those customers, they started to dictate policy. One result of that policy, is that other customers (public schools, and smaller churches) were lost.

    BSA made a strategic decision, for tactical reasons. For a small tactical advantage, they made a strategic blunder.

    As BSA shrinks, the other nations in WOSM might again assert control… With luck, the blunder can be corrected.

  • Sohobod

    @ Steve

    Thank you for your reply. But as I said: it’s Americans (or American religious nuts) who are the problem.

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