Sunday, April 30, 2006

Libraries and the Boy Scouts

About a month ago ALA Direct had one of their polls about libraries cooperating with the Boy Scouts of America, considering their exclusion of agnostics, atheists, and gays. Strangely enough, a bare majority believed libraries still should cooperate with the Boy Scouts. I was in that bare majority voting for continued cooperation. The full results are below.

There are a couple of interesting comments from the anti-Boy Scout voters. My favorite in the typically selfrighteous comment: "If you live in a community where bigotry is normalized, it is possible that library participation with the Boy Scouts of America is appropriate. " Wow! If your bigotry is normalized! I think of all the people ALA and librarians exclude from their discourse almost as a matter of course. I could come up with a list, but pretty much anyone politically to the right of Fidel Castro would be on it. What about an organization that excluded Christians? Would these same selfrighteous librarians object to that? I doubt it.

When I look at the Boy Scouts, I see a fine organization dedicated to teaching boys useful skills and organizing them into healthy and fun activities. Plus they look so cute in those little uniforms! Still, I guess I've never talked to the little 8-year-old atheist homosexuals who feel excluded.

UPDATE: I've finally thought of a good reason Why the ALA Should Support the Boy Scouts.

April 12
Should the Boy Scouts of America’s policy of excluding agnostics, atheists, and gays prohibit libraries from cooperating with the organization in joint programs?
Number of responses.....392

Sample comments:

Positive responses viewed cooperation with an exclusionary organization as contrary to the core values of a public library:

  • “Libraries should make materials and facilities available to the Boy Scouts just as they should to all organizations or individuals. However, libraries should limit their partnerships to organizations that do not adopt policies instituted for the sole purpose of excluding groups of individuals due to sexual orientation, theological stance, or any other trait or belief.”
  • “Libraries need to vote with their $$$ and actions to hold American institutions accountable for views which seek to marginalize certain groups. If we join with these groups we offer legitimacy and support for their views.”
  • “It is in direct contrast to the Fair Practices Ordinance of the Civil Code of Philadelphia and therefore would be totally inappropriate at the Free Library of Philadelphia (where I work). If you live in a community where bigotry is normalized, it is possible that library participation with the Boy Scouts of America is appropriate. It all depends on whether you think libraries should reflect their communities or should aspire to improve their communities.”

Negative responses either gave greater weight to the social good promoted by the BSA or felt that the philosophy of the local troop mattered more than that of the national organization:

  • “Even if they have some bigoted attitudes in their policy, the movement is basically a good one for boys to develop leadership and other good values.”
  • “While I disagree with the Boy Scouts’ stance, I believe cutting off cooperative programs would be counterproductive for both organizations.”
  • “I think this should be decided on a case-by-case basis and should depend on whether or not the local group upholds the discriminatory policy or not. Many groups on the local level do oppose this policy. Let’s support them and hope that eventually enough local groups will help overturn the national policy.”

No comments: