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Letter to the Editor: BSA policy is not a form of bullying


I am perplexed by the use of "bully" in the Connie Schultz column, "End Boy Scout bullying." According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the word "bully" can be used as a noun, verb or adjective. The column utilizes bully as a verb, meaning "to treat abusively; to affect by means of force or coercion; to use browbeating language or behavior" (1994:151).

According to this description of "bullying," I ask: who's bullying whom? The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) claim on its website, Scouting.org, to be, "a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs, but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path" ("The Boy Scouts of America Clarifies Membership Policy," 2012). As such, BSA is not bullying; it's upholding its convictions. They are not even publicly denouncing the gay and lesbian lifestyle. The same source cited above also claims, "Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics."

This topic is personal, too, for many Americans. Parents are concerned about close-contact activities - such as showering and sleeping in tents - for their sons, while fostering the 12 points of the Scout law. They want their sons to cultivate compassionate hearts, too. In considering the dynamics of teenage-dom, would we want the same arrangements for a daughter among boys?

The truth of the matter is that the BSA policy itself is not a form of bullying. From an outside perspective (one that does not claim to have an answer), bullying would be the coercive decision to pull funding, to verbally berate the organization for its convictions, to browbeat BSA to change its principles. If BSA is a private organization, then it has the right to set its own guidelines, even when we disagree.

Sarah Kohrs, Mt. Jackson

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