Gay Boy Scouts will be able to attend this week's National Jamboree, thanks to a recent lift on a longstanding ban. However, a new group is being excluded from the West Virginia event: those who are obese.
The Boy Scouts of America published its height and weight requirements years in advance of the quadrennial Jamboree, hoping to motivate Scouts and leaders to maintain healthy diet and exercise regimens. “It is essential that all participants and staff are prepared for their Summit jamboree experience,” the organization stated on its website. “Our goal is to prevent any serious health-related event from occurring, and ensuring that all of our participants and staff are ‘physically strong.’”
Applicants with a BMI of 40 or higher (According to the Center For Disease Control BMIs of 25-29.9 fall in the overweight range.) have been excluded from the event due to the number of strenuous physical activities involved, such as hiking, biking, rock-climbing and kayaking. There will also be no shuttle or personal vehicles to navigate the event, which sprawls across 10,000 acres of mountain turf.
While perhaps the BSA didn't have discrimination on the brain when making this new policy, it does seem pretty exclusionary, considering more than one-third of American children are overweight or obese. Instead of finding ways to keep obese children out of the Scouts, the people in charge would be better role models and leaders if they found ways to make sure everyone is included, regardless of size or weight.
Bullying, just like Boy Scouts, comes in many shapes and sizes, and the last thing the BSA should do is add to the stigma and bias that so many overweight and obese children already face.
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