I’m concerned the requirements for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion merit badge will undermine parental authority in two areas: political ideology, and sexuality and gender.
While the requirements haven’t been officially released, there have been two sources that hint at the content. The first source is the official preview video featuring Garfield Murden released sometime in November. The second source is a draft of the requirements (marked “final”) that began circulating on the internet earlier this month.
In the video, Murden uses the term “intersectionality”, a buzzword primarily used by advocates from one side of the political spectrum. In general, conservative families view intersectionality as a way to classify people based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and so on, and assign victim status based on those characteristics.
This is opposite what many conservatives believe – that all people should be seen as individuals with their own, unique experiences and opinions, irrespective of their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, religion, etc. Conservative families may not agree with the concept of intersectionality and therefore may not want their children exposed to discussions about intersectionality (unless such discussions allow for criticism). To get a better understanding of the conservative perspective of intersectionality, see Ben Shapiro’s 5-minute video on the subject.
Many who embrace the idea of intersectionality also focus on the supposed wide-spread prevalence of “systemic racism” and “institutional racism”, terms used in the requirements draft.
Not all scouting families believe systemic racism and institutional racism are significant problems in America today. Rather, they see today’s America as one of the least racist, most diverse, and most tolerant countries in the world. Black, conservative commentators like Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder disavow the concept of systemic racism, stating there is little evidence of it. They believe promoting the idea of systemic racism teaches people to see minorities as victims who are incapable of succeeding without special accommodation.
What are conservative scouts supposed to do when they don’t agree with the ideology behind the merit badge? How are they supposed to feel once they realize they can’t advance unless they express agreement with concepts they don’t accept? Will a scout be able to earn the merit badge if they tell the counselor they think intersectionality is a bad idea? Can they earn the badge if they share their opinion that systemic racism is no longer a significant problem in America?
Discussion of sexual orientation is also concerning because it necessitates discussion about sexual attraction. I expect many scouting families would prefer to have such discussions within academic, family, and/or religious settings. At the very least, parents should have a say in deciding how and when their children are exposed to conversations about sexual orientation and gender.
Some fellow scouters have said that criticism of the merit badge is unwarranted because the requirements haven’t been officially released. My worry is that once the requirements get released, it will be too late to voice concerns. I suspect there won’t be a period for collecting public feedback. Isn’t now the time to discuss these concerns, before the requirements become official?
The BSA can alleviate conservatives’ doubts by assuring exemptions will be available to families and scouts who disagree with the content. Political ideology, like religion, is personal. By mandating a one-size-fits-all approach, the BSA risks alienating many conservative families, essentially achieving the opposite of an inclusive and [ideologically] diverse environment.