The Boy Scouts' Half Measure on Gay Scouts and Leaders is Absurd.

Today the Boy Scouts of America released a long-awaited decision on whether it will continue its ban on LGBT scouts and adults. The announcement: The Boy Scouts will continue to ban LGBT adults from volunteering, but allow openly gay kids to be scouts. 

Clearly, the logic of this resolution is ludicrous. Barring a lesbian mother from helping her son's troop is just as bad as denying a young gay boy the rank of Eagle Scout

The resolution (pdf)—which the Scout's national council will vote on next month—spells out the results of the Boy Scouts' survey of its members on the issue: The majority of Boy Scout groups, leaders, and donors actually support the current policy and don't want the group to allow gay members. But among teenage Boy Scouts, a majority support allowing gay scouts and think that the current ban does not demonstrate the "core values" that scouting is all about. 

The Scouts should know that banning openly gay adults makes no sense. For their study, the group consulted four doctors who specialize in protecting kids and their recommendations were unanimous: "Same-sex sexual experience, either in adults or youth, is NOT a risk factor for sexually abusing children" and that hanging out with "self-identified homosexual adults" has no effects on children's mental health or sexual orientation.

So a "for the children!" argument here is invalid—and the Scouts know it. 

I called the Scouts to ask why the ban on adults still stands, but received only an emailed statement in response to my voicemail: "While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting." Right. 

Look, friends, if you're okay with gay kids but not gay adults, that doesn't make you any less bigoted. What the Scouts have recorded in their survey and outreach is a major culture change, a dramatic shifting of attitudes over the past decade that has made acceptance and support of LGBT folks a mainstream value. They've responded to that major change with a hypocritical half-measure that does not change the core, discriminatory nature of the Scouts. Surely young scouts can see that supporting gay kids but not gay adults is not a logical foundation on which to "make moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes."  

Until the scouting leadership is ready to listen to what current young scouts are saying, they're going to continue building a culture of silence, abuse, secrecy, and homophobia.

More power to scouts who stand up againt homophobia and to the parent-led inclusive scouting groups that keep putting the Boy Scouts of America to shame, encouraging kids to get out into nature, become capable critical thinkers, and work together, no matter their sexuality. 

Helen Lovejoy image via Manic Geek.

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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2 Comments Have Been Posted


The one piece of good news I take from this is the next generation of leaders... Boy scouts of today are likely to change the situation if its not fixed by the time they take leadership positions given "But among teenage Boy Scouts, a majority support allowing gay scouts and think that the current ban does not demonstrate the "core values" that scouting is all about. " unfortunately as usual leadership is not listening. Just like 30 years ago when scouting would not let me in because I was a girl and the local Girl Scouts were still stuck in the 1950s mindset for activities and what was appropriate for girls to learn.

Gay Kids Grow Up To Be Gay Adults

The message I'm getting from the Boy Scouts response is: "those gays are harmless when they are kids, but when they grow up, phew, look out."

Sorry to tell you Boy Scouts of America, but these kids are going to grow up to become adults and the gay kids are going to grow up to become gay adults and some of the kids who didn't know they were gay are going to turn out to be gay adults. Unless you think you can change their minds by then by using brainwashing techniques in the woods. Forget "the homosexual agenda" ; the adult leaders of the Boy Scouts seem to be on a set on a "de-homosexualizing agenda."

Quite honestly, my dad and brother are both Eagle Scouts and I grew up going to BS (errr.. Boy Scout) meetings every Monday night. I enjoyed the troop and think it was great for our family, but honestly, their policies are not staying contemporary with modern society. There are all kinds of people in this world- embrace that fact and those different than you and move on!

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