I have a terrible habit of complaining about things that I don’t like without doing anything to change them. Like, a few months ago, when the Boy Scouts of America announced that after a two-year confidential review they were reaffirming their policy of excluding gays? I was pissed off! I wrote 100 tweets about it, then bad-mouthed the hell out of the Boy Scouts to anyone who’d listen. I sent articles to friends. I begged my brother and sister not to send my 3-year-old nephews to those troupes when they grew up. And when I saw that a bunch of former Scouts were turning in their badges, I practically made that Tumblr my homepage.
But you know what I didn’t do? Anything to change the situation. Which is why Windsor Terrace dad Todd Schweikert is a way better person than I am. According to DNAInfo.com, the former Eagle Scout wanted his 7-year-old son to join a troop that, unlike the Boy Scouts of America, didn’t exclude gay people. So he started his own troop called the 5th Brooklyn Scouts. And wouldn’t you know it: they’re open to kids as young as five, regardless of race, gender, faith, or – you guessed it – sexual orientation.
It’s no wonder 40 interested kids and parents showed up at the first orientation. The idea is damn cool, and basically perfect for Park Slope parents (cough cough BOYS HAT cough cough).
But if there’s going to be a gay-friendly troop, then there needs to be a few gay-friendly merit badges, right? (the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, who are affiliated with the Baden-Powell Service Association, call them “proficiency badges,” but whatever). Like, first-aid is cool, as is fire-making and whatnot. But like… you want to teach a gay kid how to survive in this world? Give him/her some real skills. Skills like…
1. Reading. I’m not talking ABCs here (though clearly, that should happen, too). I’m talking about reading a bitch. Looking someone in the eye and letting that person know the painful truths about themselves. Master the art of the read and the gay youths will be sure to survive even the worst bullying situation. Read a bitch, throw your shade, and be done with it. No “It Gets Better” video needed!
2. Tea Spilling. I know it’s pretty cliché to think that every gay person is going to be gossiping left and right. But let’s be honest… spilling tea amongst your besties is a skill that everyone should have, regardless of sexual orientation. Besides, it’s way more fun than knot-tying.
3. Hurstory. There are plenty of 20-something gays out there who don’t know their hurstory. So the need for this type of merit badge is more apparent than ever. Movie marathons of Paris is Burning, Where the Boys Are, and The Celluloid Closet are mandatory. Readings about Stonewall Inn and the Mattachine Society and The Ladder and Harvey Milk and Evelyn Hooker – that all needs to be there. Teach these kids what life used to be like so they know just how far we’ve come in gay rights.
There are a few others I’d add to the list (Musical Theater! Live-tweeting Real Housewives shows! Grindr!), but I’ll remind myself that this is a new troop so there should be room for growth.
Any badges you’d add to the list? And would you let your kid join the 5th Brooklyn Scouts?