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Concern over the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Merit Badge

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.

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I suggest taking a BIG BREATHE - the reqs we have heard were sent to Scout Executives for comment - we know this has pushed things back - so we can just see.

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It has been confirmed: there will be no public feedback. The requirements are due out in 72 hours.

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We have discussed this elsewhere.
The quality of a badge is dependent on the reading materials, the scout, and the counselor.
BSA controls the first, families the second, and scouters the third.

For my part, I’m not talking to scouts or recruiting counselors until the reading materials are out. I intend to find counselors whose views on the topic may diverge.

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A couple things to keep in mind - it’s eagle-required, but nothing says [so far] that parents can’t hold it back to be the last badge earned, so that at least the scout is as mature as possible before starting the badge (and has had as much time as possible to take in what parents are teaching them). Secondly, this will definitely be a case where the merit badge counselor teaching the badge will make about a 300% difference. Also, there is nothing in the draft that I saw that requires the scout to agree with anything, just to understand. And that’s really what’s important here - when there are big issues like this that, quite frankly, there is a huge spectrum of opinion even when you look at only those that have some sort of data to back them up… we as a society just cannot know who is correct. Is the conservative take you mentioned correct? Maybe it is! Is the intersectionality crowd correct? Maybe it is! Everyone has an opinion, there is some data backing up several very different ideas, and no one can TRULY know the answer. In this situation, the best way we can educate our youth is to introduce them to the basics of all of the [plausible] possibilities, and then give them further information on what we believe is correct and why.

So in light of that, I see the role of this merit badge as filling the first part of that - introducing them to the basics - with the responsibility of the caring, concerned parents to be following up with their youth, asking what they learned, what they thought of it, and discussing it with them to impart the information on what they believe and why. Then you end up with a young adult knows why they believe what they do, instead of one who becomes a toddler-adult debater (those people who insist that the earth is flat because THEY KNOW THAT IT’S FLAT EVERYONEKNOWSIT’SFLATWHYAREYOUEVENTALKINGABOUTTHISROUNDEARTHTHING!!).

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To Michael K: Thank you for your excellent letter. I support your position. As teacher, I referred students to Prager University to clarify these sensitive issues.

We don’t need BSA ‘leaders’ telling us how to diversify. Our diversified Scout meetings have long been a place where kids and dads of all races worked and played together. Asians, Indians, Blacks, Europeans and Latins, Christian, Buddhist, Jews and others have all befriended each other. No, we don’t need a lecture on diversity from the brass at BSA who want to virtue-signal.

Before retiring, I taught public school in the ghettos of Los Angeles for 25 years. I attest that divisive ideologies have been shoved at us teachers and the children for over 3 decades. It took a serious turn for the worse from 2008-2016; teachers were enjoined from disciplining students.The result: Chaos on campus. And here’s the most damaging aspect of the social engineering by Leftists:

Students have been wrongly told they are victims of social injustice, systemic racism and that America has been against them, holding them back. That they deserve reparations and apologies. But who should apologize to whom?

The truth is that America and Capitalism have lifted more people out of poverty and slavery than any other system in the world. America set the slaves free just 74 yrs, 3 months after our nation’s constitution was ratified (1788-1862). Compared to other countries, America has no racism.

Who should apologize to whom? Barbary slavers from North Africa terrorized the English and European coasts from 1500’s to about 1801, kidnapping whole villages of Citizens and selling them in Morocco as slaves. And slavery is still going on around the world, but it’s certainly not allowed in America.

We Americans stood up to these Barbary slavers and fought them (1801-1805). Americans refused to bow to the Slavers’ leaders, and defeated them with Honor.

Who should apologize to whom? Who needs to learn something here?

Now, as mobs have been running our streets, certain politicians, some police, and BSA ‘leaders’ have bowed to the mob, asked for forgiveness, to atone, These obsequious BSA ‘leaders’ didn’t just surrender to the mobs, but they tried to drag the entire Scouting family with them. They let us down.

Who needs to apologize to whom? Perhaps those ‘leaders’ who bowed and surrendered to the mob should apologize to us for surrendering?

Talk to the black families from Nigeria and Sierra Leone who enrolled their children in our schools, in my classroom. They appreciate America, our freedom, our equal opportunity. They become successful , and their kids behave in class, unlike others. They don’t play victim.

The blacks and Hispanics I work with do not want apologies from you or me. They earn their keep. They better their communities. They are people worth following. They don’t need anybody patronizing them.

Our diversified troop will continue building lifelong friendships between scouts of all heritages as before, regardless of any mandate from HQ.

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Good old PragerU… well here is where that group falls in a bias check

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I’m with @DonovanMcNeil and suggest people take a deep breath. This has been debated numerous time since the announcement and I allowed myself to get a little too caught up into something that we don’t even have the details about.

It’s understandable to have trepidation. If parents are involved in their Scouts journey with the program, I trust them to sit and help them work through the merit badge to address topics that might not align with their specific beliefs.

I don’t think we need such a MB because the entire concept of being a Scout along with several of the MB’s already offered addresses DEI but the matter is decided. Nothing can better help a Scout than an active and supportive parent.

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We do need that merit badge to understand the modern history that occurred after the civil war.

The Black Code Laws that existed after the civil war that then turned into the Jim Crowe Law.

Without the context we cannot attract nor serve the communities that lives in the wakes of them.

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@MichaelK - I hear your concerns. I am white, a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, and I lean coservative politically. I lived in Indonesia for four years. Frankly, sometimes I felt like a zoo animal on display there. I never got angry about it. The truth is that people see so few white people there that they simply become curious.

Nevertheless, Indonesia is a diverse nation. Over 600 languages are spoken there, and those are the native languages of distinct ethnic groups that make up about 95% of the population. The other 5% of the population is ethnic Chinese, primarily descended form people to emigrated to the islands centuries ago.

Indonesia would not be a country at all if it were not for European colonization. This is the common bond the people share. The Indonesian language was created by the Dutch to give the people a way to communicate. The majority of the people speak their tribal language at home and in their local communities, if they live in small settlements on the lands of their ancestors. In large cities, intermarriage is common, and people may actually speak Indonesian at home as their first language.

I know what it is like to be different from the mainstream in a society. That’s why I support Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion as an Eagle-required merit badge. We cannot follow the Scout Law which asks us to be Courteous and Kind without understanding the experiences and feelings of other people. Not everyone in America gets an opportunity to know many people different from themselves. These are the things the merit badge should be about: Understanding one another, even if we don’t agree.

If the merit badge turns out to be a means for forcing opinions on Scouts (which I don’t think it will) rather than guiding them to think for themselves with a better understanding of other people, then I won’t feel this way.

If you or anyone else has any concerns that this merit badge might produce objectionable results, I encourage you to consider registering as a counselor for it. Our Scouts will not truly experience diversity if all the counselors for this merit badge are of one mind.

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We have schools to teach history. We also have Citizenship of the Nation, World and Community that offers more esoteric subjects. While I’m taking a wait and see approach I can hope that this MB is designed to be more family interactive that is teaching general awareness rather than specific points of view. That’s the parents job. I don’t think the BSA needs to engage in thought control or become school teachers. This MB badge needs to be a general overview that a 12 year old -17 year old can read and understand.

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What we need, and won’t get until after it’s released, is who ‘helped’ with the content and slant of the writing. I can’t see something coming out this fast and with the purpose this has not having an under-current that goes in a certain direction. Even the specific words used will probably flag the direction from which it has been written.
This is a topic which is very difficult to discuss, let alone write about, without starting from a particular viewpoint. The two sides use different volcabulary and even use some common terms, but with different meanings.

Qwazse is correct (once again) that this comes down to the MB Counselor. Hopefully the Counselors will be able to mitigate any problems that come out of this.

I am gateful for the new MB as it’s given my son an impetus to get done with his two last merit badges and project.

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Don’t bring your politics into the BSA. Instead of just declaring yourself a “conservative” and dismissing all things you disagree with, why don’t you TRY to understand why some people are concerned with institutional racism. Open your mind, heart, and talk to some people from different walks of life.

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BSA’s mission is to foster and prepare youth for service in tomorrow’s world.
In that mission, teaching about unfair treatment and social issues is one of them.

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@Stephen_Hornak sure, PragerU is biased. By definition it’s biased because it acknowledges its conservative point of view. It doesn’t claim to be a politically neutral source.

When the supporting material for this merit badge gets published, I’m pretty sure it will include sources that are biased as well, biased towards the left. This is exactly the reason for my concern – that many DE&I talking points will be politically biased. If I knew the resource page on the BSA website will also include links to conservative opinions – like the Shapiro video – then I could rest assured the BSA’s presentation will be politically balanced. However, I suspect that won’t be the case. I hope I am wrong.

I mentioned Shapiro, Sowell, and Elder by name, but their viewpoints aren’t unique among conservative commentators. Truthfully, I cannot think of a single conservative writer or talk show host that gives credence to the value of intersectionality, or who thinks that systemic racism is a significant problem in America today. If anyone knows of an exception, please share it here and I will take a look.

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@ErikJohnsen if BSA was introducing a Sanctity of Life merit badge that discusses the moral dilemma of abortion, would you be saying the same thing? Would you be asking critics to leave their belief system at the door and at least try to understand why some people oppose abortion? If you are pro-choice, would you feel comfortable having your child work on requirements that suggest human life has value even when it’s still in the womb? To some, abortion is a very serious issue! To some, it has a direct connection to reverence and duty to God. Yet, I don’t expect we will ever see such a merit badge because of how religiously and politically sensitive the topic is. And rightly so. Please understand, many conservatives view the DE&I merit badge the same way pro-choice folks would view a Sanctity of Life badge.

I don’t want to bring politics into scouting. I loved the fact that I could spend time with other families and have no clue who they voted for or how they feel about abortion. That’s the way it should be! But it’s clear from the way this merit badge is being presented that it reflects one side of the political spectrum, not both. Now, parents will have to shop for a merit badge counselor who aligns better with their views. Half the parents will have to ask “will you discuss conservative opinions on intersectionality and systemic racism as well as the opinions of the political left?”

Please don’t ask me to leave my beliefs at the door and just go along with it. This issue is critically important to me. It will affect how my children will view others and how they will view the country as a whole. I’ve spent the duration of my children’s lives teaching them that skin color isn’t important, that they should judge people based on their character and their actions, not their race. I want them to be truly colorblind. From what I’ve seen so far, this merit badge will undermine what I’ve been trying to teach. For example, intersectionality teaches people to see skin color first and foremost, and to make assumptions based on it. That goes against everything I (and many conservatives) believe.

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It is not about viewpoints, it is about science and data.
We know that there are still black people living in poverty due to the Black Codes and Jim Crow era laws forbidding them to move, own land etc.
They still have a disadvantage at the start because of this and it will take decades if not a century before we can talk about real equality among people.

Because we still do not have it.

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They should add this requirement:
Have a family meeting and discuss what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means to your family.

This would allow parents to speak with their children about the family believes about the topic.

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tbh i think national should actually update the three citizenship MBs to have the discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion work into them.

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I agree. Just because they put the words “fact check” doesn’t make them correct at all, it just means they want to give the impression they’re correct. Plus MBFC is the biased source here. Prager U has spot-on videos.

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