Some time ago Boy Scouts of America decided to no longer allow homosexuals in the organization. The decision followed a handful of high profile cases of pedophilia within the organization. Law suits have been raised in protest to the this decision. So far these law suits have been unsuccessful. Scouting For All is a non-profit organization aimed at pressuring BSA to pull the discriminatory policies (atheists are also barred). While Scouting For All is an advocacy group and not an alternative scouting program, Navigators USA is. Founded just over a year ago in East Harlem by a group of volunteers who had previously led a Boy Scout Troop, Navigators USA is a co-ed program for children ages 7-18 modeled after the BSA curriculum but open to all. Instead of the “Scout Oath,” Navigators swear:
“As a Navigator I promise to do my best
To help create a world free of prejudice and ignorance.
To treat people of every race, creed, lifestyle and ability
With dignity and respect.
To strengthen my body and
Improve my mind to reach my full potential.
To protect our planet and preserve our freedom.”
The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to enforce exclusionary policies caused the Unitarian Church that had sponsored the East Harlem troop to terminate its charter and severe ties with the Boy Scouts of America. Yet the congregation still wanted to maintain the best parts of the scouting experience and retain the close relationships and bonding with the youth participants that had developed over the years. The volunteers felt it critical to offer choices within the scouting community, even if it required the creation of a new organization.
Navigators USA hopes to have the program ready to go nationwide by Fall 2009.