I remember when I was in middle school, there was this new drink to come out. It was bottled – like, in real glass! – and had delicious fruit flavors that sounded exotic, like kiwi watermelon. I wanted some SO BAD. Everybody was drinking it. They even had facts under the pop-top lids, so you were LEARNING while you drank it! I would envy my friends as they would show up with these bottles at school, and I would have my stupid Diet Pepsi or whatever.
It was called Snapple, and my mother wouldn’t let us buy it, because she had heard that the parent company had ties to the KKK.
Now, you can go check that out and see that, obviously, it wasn’t true. But in 1991, we didn’t have Snopes to guide us in the way of urban legends, so my mother stuck to her convictions. Now that I’m old enough to have to make the same decisions, I’m really kind of proud of her. Her money would not go to support things that she didn’t believe in.
Now I’m staring into the belly of the beast, and I’m just not sure how to feel.
The Boy Scouts of America
Last week, the Boy Scouts of America – which, is to be noted, is a privately-run group – reaffirmed their stance that they would not welcome or accept gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered scouts or leaders into their organization. They feel – and have been open about it – that the LGBT lifestyle is not reflective of what they believe represents their organization.
For whatever reason, we’ve never had either of the boys mention anything about Boy Scouts. I don’t know if it’s just not big around here locally or if they just didn’t know such a thing exists, but I’ve asked Bryan frankly what we would do if they did ask to join.
Bryan mentioned that Jack is of an age that we can discuss openly with him why we’d hesitate to participate with the organization, but also noted that we send him to a private Christian academy. His curriculum is just as .. traditional as the beliefs touted in Boy Scouts, and yet we pay for him to attend there and be educated in those beliefs.
“How would we address that hypocrisy?” I asked.
Bryan sighed. “I don’t know. I guess it’s up to us to educate him in diversity.”
So there’s something to be said there. It’s up to us as parents to show the kids what a colorful tapestry we are as human beings, but .. it feels incredibly exclusive to participate in a group that doesn’t acknowledge all the threads.
I was especially moved by the recent flux of Eagle Scouts returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, because they feel that the recent affirmation of exclusion is counter-intuitive for what they stood for. I also didn’t realize how much weight an Eagle Scout award carried, and just how important it is for it to be returned.
In summation, we haven’t had to cross this bridge. But my boys are still young, and there’s still enough time for one of two things to happen: they could want to join the Boy Scouts, or they could discover that they are gay. Both of those things could happen. And I hate that one completely negates the other.
Just as I had never been affected by the Boy Scouts of America and their stance, the recent affirmation of Chick-Fil-A’s similar stance has shaken us to our core. We eat there weekly, to be frank. Bryan grew up dining at the original Chick-Fil-A, actually called The Dwarf House, because his father worked overnight at the Atlanta Airport and the Dwarf House was open around the clock. When we visited Atlanta in March, we took the boys there so they could go through the little, dwarf-sized door.
And I have similar ties. A couple of our local Chick-Fil-As were owned and managed by my BFF’s dad when we were in high school. Needless to say, there were always trays of chicken at every occasion. Their chicken tastes like home to me. I know that sounds silly to say, but seriously! A lot of my friends worked there in high school and college, and we still know folks who work there.
This is the subject Bryan and I cannot agree on.
(Mostly because I cannot settle on any one opinion.)
There is the one hand, where I feel that exclusion is not okay. I am very much not a fan of Focus on the Family, which is an organization that backs traditional marriage, but in a fire and brimstone manner.
But then – there is the other hand. In which Chick-Fil-A does so much right.
Chick-Fil-A gives millions of dollars in scholarships to its employees that are starting college. They donate to MULTIPLE charities year-round. They donate food to emergency workers like no one’s business. They provide books in their children’s meals, instead of some crappy plastic toy that I’ll just end up throwing away anyway. They use high quality products, which make me feel better about driving through. They believe in customer service like none other I’ve seen.
They do so much right. And I’m sad that this is such a large wrong.
But here’s where Bryan and I had lengthy discussions. Bryan pointed out that Chick-Fil-A’s mission statement has always started in a religious manner. They are closed on Sundays, to allow their employees time to worship. They have never, ever hidden who they are. So this recent admission by founder Truett Cathy that he is “guilty as charged” when it comes to backing traditional marriage is not a surprise. It is not new.
They are also not tasked with shaping young men into upstanding citizens, as are the Boy Scouts.
They are tasked with deliciousness. And on that, they deliver.
Yesterday, the Jim Henson Company announced that they would be severing any ties with Chick-Fil-A. They announced that any backlogged payment that came from Chick-Fil-A would immediately be donated to GLAAD. To be honest, that was what lowered the hammer for me. Jim Henson has been my moral beacon for many, many years.. his message of inclusion through puppetry shaped a lot of who I am today. It’s not easy being green, as Kermit says. It’s not easy being different. So we should love everyone in their various shades of green.
But – doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t exclude those who disagree with us? I’m speaking to inclusion, of all people, and doesn’t that mean that I should preach tolerance? Doesn’t that mean I should have an open dialogue in my home, with my progeny, to explain what we believe to be fundamental truths?And that we still acknowledge and love those who don’t necessarily agree with us?
I DON’T KNOW.
(Of course I know.)
As has been said, the front lines of the civil rights movement was the lunch counters. Where you spend your money matters.
I stand with Jim Henson and Kermit.