This is Why I Withdrew My Son From Cub Scouts

My son loved Cub Scouts last year, he even came in third in the Pine Car Derby (pretty good accomplishment for a Tiger Scout!). He loved the uniform, the badges, and learning the salutes.

But this year my husband and I withdrew our family from the local Cub Scout pack because of their recent decision to disenfranchise gay scouts and leaders from the organization, not to mention their systematic cover-ups of multiple sex abuse cases.

It’s been hard for some of my friends to understand. I think they think I’m making a big stink about nothing. But the truth is, I cannot put our name on an organization that would do what this Gawker story reports they’ve done:

Ryan Andresen was in “total shock” when his Scoutmaster informed him he would not be awarding him the rank of Eagle Scout — the Boy Scouts highest honor — because he was openly gay.

“He had been telling me all along that we’d get by the gay thing,” Andresen, 17, told Yahoo News. “It was by far the biggest goal of my life. It’s totally devastating.”

Andresen spent the past 12 years earning enough merit badges to qualify for Eagle Scout, and recently completed his service project — ironically, an anti-bullying “tolerance wall” he worked on with area schoolchildren.

So, a boy who has been dutifully scouting since he was in first grade was told that he would never advance to Eagle Scout because he is an out gay teen?


Despite the good that the Boy Scouts of America does, it is important that we take this time to make our own personal protests against an organization that is encouraging discrimination and even hate.

It’s time the Boy Scouts of America started truly caring about our youth—in every way—and as long as we keep putting our names on their rosters, we are advocating for their policies of discrimination and allowing more children to be harmed.



Read also: Boy Scouts of America Covered Up Sexual Abuse of Children by Ozy Frantz

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane,,, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. I never did understand the Boy Scouts / Cub Scouts stance on athiesm. Never than during my one horrible year in Cub Scouts did I more doubt the existence of a good and loving God. I was abused both mentally and physically, and any who weren’t taking an active part in this turned their blind eye to it. The Cubmaster was standing 2 feet away when another adult punched me in the face, and he acted as if nothing had happened . As far as I am concerned, all the adult leaders in that time and place can go straight to Hell.

  2. I agree with the reasoning and emotional logic of the withdrawals, but your son is not even fully cognitive of the crap-side of BSA. He enjoys the heck out of it. A Cub Troop is as divorced from the BSA as one can be. Its about boys, camaraderie among peers, learning some cool stuff, building character and team-skills. Its also primarily about fun.

    When my son was in Cubs, “Character” included full and continual briefing on not bullying anyone for any reason and not judging others for any reason if they were also a child…that we don’t know everything that is going on with any individual.

    Sexual Orientation was never discussed or approached once in the 5 years he went from Cubs to BS.

    He withdrew himself from BSA, as he has no tolerance for inept leaders. But withdrawal from an in-just system or entity will never help it to change. Rather, the bigots will revel in the victory. If i give up on changing sex-offender protective regs, literally NO ONE in New Hampshire will push for change.

    I just think the connection to BSA-national policy is SO remote at his life-stage, why pull him from a fun and wholesome activity? I dunno….would you pull him from using a playground if you learned the construction contractor was a nazi? Doubtful. You might get a proclamation from the town that no nazi will ever tarnish the intent of the playground’s construct.

    Maybe I’m just weak on loosely-linked association and guilt principals. But I’ve yet to see such conviction from the GMP crowd on much else here.

    • I apologize for any misconception that I was/am in support of the BSA policy. I had assumed the divide between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts was a likely basis for Joanna’s son being there in the first place.

      I am in NO WAY supportive of the BSA policy. There are protests from the inside and protests from the outside. I was simply trying to convey that protest and change attempts from the outside will only be met with the windows closing on you.

      The Cub Scouts we experience in New Hampshire is not exclusive of ANYONE, and we have out-boys at grade 5.

      I offered an alternative approach assuming Joanna’s son wanted to remain in the Cubs…that is was “fun” for him – as stated “My son loved Cub Scouts last year, he even came in third in the Pine Car Derby (pretty good accomplishment for a Tiger Scout!). He loved the uniform, the badges, and learning the salutes.” I get that…as it was stated….I get that.

      but I also assumed everyone knew years ago what the BSA was all about with regard to treatment of gays and horrid cover-up of sex-abuse cases, and that the Cubs were given a pass since he was entered into the scouts.

      Again. I was not meaning to come-off as judgemental or bigoted,, or in support..

  3. My problems with the scouts go back to 68- when I was shown the door for wearing a black arm band marching in the Memorial Day parade. There was bullying, there was homosexuality, there were aches and pains and blisters, I got burned badly goofing around with bacon grease on a campfire, and damned near drowned the first day of camp, as did several other guys, the water was so damned cold- I was raised by agnostics and dealt with the reverence. My mother was no joiner but served as a Den Mother.
    My sons opted not to scout – organized sports & Religious education took up a lot of the time they had.
    Today I’m at the grocery and the Scouts are selling popcorn wearing some funny corncob head gear- 2 of the boys I knew from sports, they were not getting a lot of traction on the basketball court and it seems to me they were having a ball today. In my community the BSA seems to provide comradery for a lot of boys who get no respect in athletics especially as there are a lot athletes scouting too- an inclusive team experience for all.
    And I love the Scouts…… Always have, always will.
    99% of the people I’ve known over the years associated with the BSA are good people.
    I cannot look at a cop without thinking of Art Berbig or a postman and not remember Fred Powdrell……
    I read what you wrote about the Scouts, Joanna, and was saddened- I kind of wish you had stayed in and protested from inside the tent, as it were. That being said it is your fight, your son & your business.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I feel that if we protested from the inside, it would be pointless. They still have our money, they still have our names.

      I simply cannot be a part of an organization that makes discrimination part of its core values.

  4. It is easy to talk the talk, but not always easy to walk the walk. This may have been hard for your son, but you modeled something very important for him that he will appreciate more and more as he gets older. If you teach respect and tolerance, he will learn those values. They are increasingly critical in our shrinking world and inflamed political rhetoric. Nicely done.

  5. Yes, it is disgusting. The Boy Scouts are out of touch and should definitely be challenged on their policy. I think you made a good decision to withdraw your son.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    Let’s boil this down to what this means in practice. A 17-year-old boy can get fellatio from a girl and still be an Eagle Scout. If he gets fellatio from a boy he can’t be. So, the gender of the mouth is what matters in getting that badge? How odd.

    No, wait, that’s not it either. What matters to the BSA is what gender of mouth the Scout WANTS it to be. That’s even more odd.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    This is a world in which there are millions and millions of gay people. Doesn’t “Be Prepared” mean you should be prepared for reality? I remember there being a “Mammals” merit badge – it wasn’t until much later that I learned how common homosexuality was among our closest primate relatives. Boy Scouts did not really prepare me for that zoological reality.

    What’s absurd to me is that a Scout can go through years of scouting, meet or exceed all the requirements, and fulfill everything asked of him, but being openly gay is the only thing keeping you from getting the Eagle rank. If being openly gay really means you can’t fulfill all the duties and obligations of being a Boy Scout, then why does the BSA say that these boys have done everything right except for this? If being gay means you won’t be a good Scout, then how could these boys ever make it so far?

  8. The BSA doesn’t allow atheists, either. If they changed policy to allow gays, but not atheists, how many people would be satisfied enough to end their boycotts?

    If it was strictly a club, I wouldn’t mind so much discriminatory policies that I disagree with, but I see it more as a business that benefits from public accommodations, so I think the standards should be different.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I was in Scouts more than 30 years ago, so this may have changed, but I don’t remember much room for anyone who wasn’t Christian or Jewish. My troop met in a church and recited solidly mainstream Protestant prayers. I remember a lot of points in the Handbook where it referred to “your church (or synagogue).” Hardly a globally inclusive policy, even among monotheists….

  9. CajunMick says:

    When my son was 12, I withdrew my son from the Boy Scouts after participating in Scout activites for about 3 months. Why? Bullying.
    My son is a gentle, amiable soul, and for whatever it’s worth, heterosexual. He’s a gamer-type kid. (Dear God, don’t get him started on gaming. I love him, but I’d rather eat eat a bullet.)
    He would come back from the meetings, activities, and I’d ask him if he had fun. It was sad, because he would try so hard to put a positive spin on Scouting, but you could tell something was wrong. A couple of months later, he reluctantly admitted that he was being bullied. I contacted the Scout Leader, and set up a meeting. When I spoke to him, what was striking was not his denial of the bullying, it was his indifference.
    I might even say he was even a little hostile. It’s my belief that my son didn’t fit his idea (a miniature ‘good ol’ boy’) of what a boy scout should be. I withdrew him immediately.
    I can’t generalize about all Scout troops, but in our rural, very conservative, neck of the woods, I wouldn’t recommend this scouting council to anyone.

    • So, why aren’t you at the meetings? Why aren’t you volunteering?

      I’m a scoutmaster in a small, conservative rural community. I do not tolerate bullying in my troop. Nor do the other scoutmasters I know. Read the Boy Scout Handbook- starting with the parents guide in front.

      Requirement 9 of Tenderfoot- what to do about bullies, ans why not to be one.

      If the scoutmaster isn’t in with the Boy Scout program as laid out- IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A PARENT TO GET HIM OR HER REMOVED. Start with the charter rep of the organization that sponsors the troop- he or she can remove the scoutmaster. Warning- be prepared to do the job yourself.

      I’m now scoutmaster for the local troop a 2nd time, and have been SM for 10 of the last 15 years. Why? Because so many parents want to use scouting without contributing to it. And by contributing, I mean time and effort. I don’t get paid for doing what I do- and I use vacation time every weekend camping trip, since my workshift includes weekends. It costs me to do this.

      When I see complaints like this, my thoughts are- Put Up or Shut Up.

      • CajunMick says:

        As I said in my post, I was not making a general statement against all BSA troops or councils- just this one in particular.
        I’m very glad for the boys in your troop that care so much that you are willing to give them so much of your time and effort without compensation. I admire folks who do things like this, and the kids are lucky to have you.
        One facet of my job as a dad is to protect my son.
        I know a toxic environment when I see one, and to leave my son in it would have been an abrogation of duty to him. So what we do afterwards, he became very involved in his church’s youth group. I was there with him for all the activities.
        So you’re right- put up or shut up? I put up, I just ‘put up’ somewhere else.

      • lol youre tough guy arent you? in the end you scout guys are bunch of homophobes, bullies, and misogynist…

  10. ChristopherConfeitor says:

    Although I profess conservative morals, I believe truly in the inclusion of all people of any race, sexual preference or creed. I also believe in approaching a homosexual person with sensitivity and understanding, offering them support and care in as much as I can offer. I have openly gay friends, and they are some of the most genuine friends I have. Being gay does not ‘de-humanize’ a person, and we ought to remember and respect that truth. I understand that the organization has rules, but as good as their intentions might be, this rule isolates an individual who is gay and removes them. I think certain ‘rules’ can afford to be changed to reflect a more unified approach without losing the overall moral foundations upon which the organization was founded.

  11. My son is in the Life rank which is the last before Eagle. It’s a shame that the kid in the report was allowed to continue knowing that at the end he wouldn’t be allowed to finish. Maybe the leader thought he could bypass the local BS chapter? Anyways, it was the leader’s fault not to be properly trained. He should have known his organization’s rules before becoming a leader.
    I still believe in the Boys Scout of America. All the good things my son has learned outweighs the fact they don’t allow gays. He certainly has not learned to hate or not tolerate gays. He truly enjoys the groups and has been trained in how to prevent and discourage bullying among his peers. He also has been trained in preventing sexual abuse an how to report it. It’s certainly a very well trained troop the one he belongs to.
    The Boy Scouts of America has always been open about its rules and have never denied them. There are plenty of organizations with their own rules and this is no exception. If there was one with all their benefits and activities that also included gays, I’d would love to participate in it also. For now, I respect their stance and go by their rules.

    • I doubt you would feel the same way if your son had realised he was gay after joining the organisation.
      There is literally no good reason for this rule.

      I think the world will be a better place when everybody realises that the “shame” here isn’t that the boy was allowed to continue in the scouts until almost reaching top rank; it’s a shame that the homophobic rule exists. In Britain, having a rule like this is rightly against the law.

      Imagine if the scouts suddenly decided to bar all black people. Would you still “respect their stance” of hatred?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      It is a shame. But it’s a shame that Boy Scouts of America is a discriminatory organization, not that one kind leader believed he could somehow avoid having to enforce the rules set out by bigoted people.

    • John Anderson says:

      I support people’s rights to freedom of association, but I don’t think the Boy Scouts are so much a voluntary association as they are a business. They used to not allow girls, now they do. I’m less certain that a business could morally or legally exclude anyone from its services. Certain gender based businesses like women’s health clubs can do so legally in some areas. I’m still unsure about the morality. Some people make the argument morality be damned. If people receive health benefits from exercise and won’t go to coed gyms, it’s better to allow the discrimination.

      I mention this because I can see your points about rules and how there may be instances where the positive impacts on people and society may outweigh discrimination. I still can’t find a legitimate reason why allowing gays into the Boy Scouts is somehow counter to their mission. I hear there is a religious component, but aren’t gay people religious too? I can’t see how being gay eliminates a belief in god or even Christ.

      I agree with Joanna and Kay.

      • The Boy Scouts allow girls to join? Since when?

        • Googled it. Never mind.

          But, the Cub Scouts don’t. That’s no different than not allowing little gay boys.

          • John Anderson says:

            But it does mean that they changed the rules and if they can change a rule, how important can that be to their mission? Are the cub scouts a different organization from the boy scouts?

      • The U.S. Supreme court has ruled that private organizations can discriminate. It’s a free association issue. Not saying I agree with the Boy Scouts but it is their constitutional right as long as they remain a private club. They are not like a business open to the public (as a legal matter) because you have to be an approved member to participate.


  1. […] voices at the Good Men Project talking about their own experiences with this issue, read “This Is Why I Withdrew My Son From Cub Scouts” and “Eagle Scouts Returning Their Badges for LGBT Equality“. /* […]

  2. […] This is Why I Withdrew My Son From Cub Scouts Eagle Scouts Returning Their Badges […]

  3. […] I wrote about how my husband I have chosen to withdraw our son from Cub Scouts because of our disgust with the organization for their ban against allowing membership to openly […]

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