Respectful Language

Last night at Scouts I over heard a kid call something or someone "gay". I gave them a stern talking to, saying that I do not want to hear that kind of language at Scouts, and that they shouldn't be saying that anywhere. I have noticed a serious issue with language at Scouts, and I can confirm that it's not because I am "older" in that sense - I was a Scouter for six years previously, but since coming back this April I have noticed that the language of the Scouts is a lot worse than it was when I was a Scout and when I had previously been a leader.

Of course this is quite specialist knowledge and not many of you readers will actually have any experience with Scout troops, so I will generalise and say that it's actually less about the swearing or the actual words used, but it is actually a deeper sense of the lack of respect it shows. What I mean to say is that the fact that they do swear and curse and use certain words shows that firstly they don't care about what they are saying in the same way I did or who heard it - I can genuinely remember the first time a Scout leader swore, and it was used perfectly for effect. I remember too the first time a teacher swore - before that, yes swearing at School and Scouts was common, but I'd never do it within possible ear shot of a teacher or leader. On any given night I can hear more racial and homophobic epithets without even trying than I might have done in a month or more a few years ago.

Which leads me into my second point - their lack of respect for their elders. Now, I am not "old" (I keep telling myself that) but then I realise that these kids, the youngest in my troop, were born after September the 11th, some in 2003. Which means that there are children that have started Beavers (or will this year) that are younger this this very blog that I write on. That is mental. So, I am 28 years old and probably to them look impossibly old (I think back to my thoughts when a 10 year old first year Scout and how old the leaders felt then, yet they were actually in their early 20s).

I know this is going to come across as "goddang those youngsters these days" and sure, I am a full generation away from them (for example, I have no mutual cultural references to these kids whatsoever) but I also know where they come from, the towns that they grew up in and the schools that they go to (in some cases intimately) and it's crazy to think that they are from the same place I was. Where have they been taught or maybe more importantly not taught that this is not acceptable? Is Scouts the only place that they are told off for this kind of thing?

If that is the case then that is fine. I've repeated many times to anyone who will listen that Scouts made me who I am today, for better or worse, and gave me some of my closest friends. I learned a lot about respect from the Association, and it's the reason I am back being involved with the troop today - because I feel that I can give to some kids the advantage I had. Of course, telling the Scouts that is a one way ticket to them not caring...

I guess I am just disappointed to hear the words "gay" or "jew" used in a pejorative way. In my adult life I've only came across a few people who say those things that are so disrespectful and I have let them know that I feel that way and that they offend me, and most have reasoned with me respectfully back (thought not all). I don't expect a Scout to reason with me or truly understand (I mean, I used to use the word "gay" back then, something I deeply regret now) but that doesn't  mean I can't be tough.

And there's always something that needs cleaning at the end of a night.