New Kid on the Block

Some time ago Boy Scouts of America decided to no longer allow homosexuals in the organization. The decision followed a handful of high profile cases of pedophilia within the organization. Law suits have been raised in protest to the this decision. So far these law suits have been unsuccessful. Scouting For All is a non-profit organization aimed at pressuring BSA to pull the discriminatory policies (atheists are also barred). While Scouting For All is an advocacy group and not an alternative scouting program, Navigators USA is. Founded just over a year ago in East Harlem by a group of volunteers who had previously led a Boy Scout Troop, Navigators USA is a co-ed program for children ages 7-18 modeled after the BSA curriculum but open to all. Instead of the “Scout Oath,” Navigators swear:

“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.”

The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to enforce exclusionary policies caused the Unitarian Church that had sponsored the East Harlem troop to terminate its charter and severe ties with the Boy Scouts of America. Yet the congregation still wanted to maintain the best parts of the scouting experience and retain the close relationships and bonding with the youth participants that had developed over the years. The volunteers felt it critical to offer choices within the scouting community, even if it required the creation of a new organization. 

Navigators USA hopes to have the program ready to go nationwide by Fall 2009.

Join the Conversation

  • aleks

    I was a boyscout and my troop’s leaders were good liberal Minnesotan suburbanites, but the high command were true jerks. I don’t remember the circumstances, but one of the oldest boys in the group, who was very involved was an atheist (and in retrospect also fit gay stereotypes). At some point he was interviewed by someone over whether he could stay in Scouts, and they let him if he promised to “keep an open mind.”
    If I had children, I would LOVE for them to be in something with the same skill-building and naturalist orientation, but without the pre-military aspect or rightwing exclusionary social values. I could also do without having to buy all the paraphernalia, but that’s another story.

  • Rachel_in_WY

    Ironically, most pedophiles do not identify as gay. One of my drinking buddies is a therapist for the department of corrections, and claims that most of them would be offended to be identified as homosexual.

  • sfgirlives

    Lovely, but one note of correction- I think you mean Unitarian Universalist. I am one,so it stuck out at me.

  • OuyangDan

    That is really great to hear. I love the idea of the Scouts, but don’t like the segregations and othering that they participate in. No one has any business instilling that in children as a value.