Yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook which was alarming. It has since been removed (or I’ve been blocked from it) but it basically called out the Boy Scouts for “discriminating against overweight youth.” It was along the lines of “I can’t believe the scouts are so stupid to exclude overweight boys! How dare they!” There was no link nor further information, but the comment was already generating comments by folks quite happy to join in the BSA bashing.

The Boy Scouts of America have been prone to bashing this past year or more, as they have struggled with, and been criticized for refusing admittance to gay youth as well as gay and lesbian adults. Even the measure recently taken to admit queer youth was not enough of a move and they continue to be criticized for failing to allow gay and lesbian leaders. Many people feel they tried to strike a middle ground with the move, and will eventually allow adults as well.

But ongoing bashing, especially when based on falsehoods and misinformation is the type of crap you expect to find on Fox News rather than from LGBTQ advocates and enlightened activists. Bashing, simply for bashing sake helps no one and doesn’t further progress. Progress towards full fairness and equality should always be the goal. One reason, in my opinion, the move for full LGBTQ Equality gets slowed is because some would rather get caught up in bickering, bashing and the spread of misinformation rather than staying focused on the real goal of full equality. Sure, it makes a bit of sense- when others use these childish tactics against you, it may seem reasonable or even justified to act the same way back. But it really helps no one nor gets us closer to what we deserve.

For the record, I believe we have to be pleased that the BSA changed their policy regarding queer youth and at the same time, we have to keep pushing for them to be consistent and also accept gay and lesbian leaders. The current policy is a step forward, but still unacceptable. I’ve written about it here, here, and here.

At the same time, let’s not be guilty of spreading misinformation and using it to create useless ill-will towards the Scouts. So below is quoted material about what the Scouts really did.

The quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree opened Monday at a sprawling new site in the West Virginia mountains, with one big omission: Scouts who are dangerously overweight. Scout leaders designed the 10-day wilderness gathering in the New River Gorge region to be the most physically demanding since the first Jamboree, a camp-out held around the Washington Monument in 1937.

In my opinion, the basher on Facebook selected the term overweight boys” because it sounds more damning, where as the Scouts were drawing the line between healthy and “dangerously obese,” based on BMI (bolding below is mine)

To be eligible for this years mass gathering, tens of thousands of Scouts and their leaders had to meet standards for Body Mass Index and other health factors. Scouts whose BMI was 40 or above were banned from the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, while those between 32 and 39.9 had to submit medical information to be approved. “We required a level of fitness in order to come to the Jamboree that we haven’t required before,” Dan McCarthy, director of the BSAs Summit Group, told the Associated Press. “And that has motivated an enormous return in terms of both kids and adults getting serious about improving their health.

One of the bashing commenters on Facebook quipped, “Exclusion is exclusion”!  clearly linking this to the BSA’s previous policy of excluding gay youth. I don’t think it is an apt similarity at all. A person can not change their sexual orientation, but they can improve their physical health! This isn’t like the door at Studio 54 where only the hot butch guys were let in! No kid is expected to have a perfect six-pack (unlike what the Gay Community often expects). They are merely looking for a level of physical health that will allow them to participate in these activities.

“Scouts will be tested by such “high-adventure activities” as kayaking, rock-climbing, bouldering, skateboarding, mountain biking, BMX riding, gliding, a 3-mile hike uphill and a 3,000-foot-long zip line.”Teaching Scouts and Scouters how to live a sustainable life, which includes a healthy lifestyle, and the health of our participants are important goals of the jamboree.

I was on a gay cruise a number of years ago, and there was a guy hundreds of pounds overweight who threw a fit because one of the shore excursions (a zip line excursion) had a weight restriction and he was over it. So after much arguing and bitching, they allowed him to do it if he signed a waiver. The guy got out on the first zip line and couldn’t move. He was so heavy, the pulley wouldn’t move on the zip line. He was done for the day, and quite humiliated. M oral of the story- sometimes restrictions aren’t about keeping people out because they are looked down upon. Rather safety, or other factors play a role.

We published our height-weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree. But, for those who couldn’t, most self-selected and chose not to apply,” Scout spokesman Deron Smith told ABC News.The Scouts did not provide an estimate of the number of youths who were excluded.

So, everyone knew in advance, and could use the jamboree as a reward for reaching a goal of being in better physical health.

Someone is considered morbidly obese if he or she is 100 pounds over his or her ideal body weight and has a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 and above if the person has high blood pressure, diabetes or other obesity-related conditions.

Not everyone can be super thin or a body-builder form, but everyone can improve their health through better eating, and moderate exercise. And there are real rewards for being in better health aside from getting sick less, feeling better, and being at lower risk for dangerous illnesses and conditions. And the world opens up to you when you are healthy! There are so many exciting things you can do. Life is an adventure just waiting to be experienced, rather than a catastrophe waiting to happen. We should be applauding the Boy Scouts for making sustainable healthy living a goal for all Scouts, not bashing them based on misinformation.

via Jamboree campers thinned out: No obese Boy Scouts.

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