One of the hardest aspects of being a parent is the social pressure to conform for the sake of your kid. I don't know anyone who has kids who hasn't at some point struggled with a choice or situation where the majority believes something is either acceptable or unacceptable, good or bad, and the parent disagrees. I feel like it's important to give your kid all of the experiences you possibly can, and though economic and social constrictions make those available experiences different in every case, I think that one of the hardest things for a parent to do is to separate their own opinions regarding activities from their willingness to allow their kids to experience those activities.
There is an activity that I will never be comfortable allowing my son to participate in, and it's something that for a lot of Americans is seen as a hugely valuable experience for boys especially - the Boy Scouts of America.
For a lot of people, the Boy Scouts are considered one of the best activities you could encourage your son to participate in. They will cite all of the great things about the Scouts - their focus on community and being a good Samaritan, their dedication to volunteerism and to being loyal, honest, etc. I find exceptional value in these things as well, the problem I have with the boy scouts ought to be an obvious one. Take a look at their oath -
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
It is a requirement to believe in god in order to be a Scout. Which, if my son decided he believed in god wouldn't be as big of an issue for me as something far more sinister - the fact the the Boy Scouts of America is an actively and vocally homophobic organization.
So, let's revisit the list of all those admirable things that makes the Scouts such a great experience for boys. Their focus on community (except for the gay community, which should be rejected) and being a good Samaritan (though this only extends as far as heterosexuality is concerned, as the scouts also teach discrimination), their dedication to (specifically straight) volunteerism and to being loyal (as long as your loyalty has nothing to do with homosexuals), honest, etc.
The fact is, it doesn't matter how many awesome things the Scouts do as an organization, everything they do is tainted by the fact that they actively endorse homophobia by not allowing homosexuals to be scouts or scout masters. Presumably this rule is in place because the Scouts are a religious organization.
I don't like the idea of making too many moral decisions on behalf of my son, but I refuse to support his participation in an organization that endorses homophobia regardless of what the popular position on the organization might be. There are no amount of camping trips and volunteer experiences that would be worth putting my son in a position where he has to reject an entire group of people in order to participate in these activities.
So, I guess this summer we're going camping.