What’s a Gay Boy Scout to do?

This week the Boy Scouts of America will vote on whether or not to end its long standing policy against gays as members and leaders. They voted on the same matter last year and upheld the ban against gays.

The Boy Scout’s ruling is archaic, based upon unfounded fears, but old fears are hard to overcome. 

President Obama said that he thinks the Boy Scouts need to remove their ban against gays. “My attitude is … that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life,” he said.

The truth is that the old guard thinks that if gays are allowed to be Scout Leaders, they will prey upon children. They have confused being gay with being a pedophile. They are not the same thing. 

You would think, given the history of abuses within the organization, the Boy Scouts administration would have figured all that out by now.

But old stereotypes are hard to overcome.

Despite what their own creed says about living honestly, the Boy Scouts administration have cultivated a culture of secrecy and denial.

I’d much rather my child have a Scout Leader who is openly gay than a Scout Leader who is forced to lie about his sexual orientation.

What about you? Do you think it’s time the Boy Scouts revoked their national ban on gays? Or would you be reluctant to let your son and/or grandson be a member of Boy Scouts if you knew his troop leader or District Supervisor was gay? 




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  • Since I’m pretty sure everyone outside of NAMBLA realizes that boy love is a really terrible thing, I’d be perfectly fine with a gay troop leader. Moreover, people need to stop moralizing about these sorts of things; assent to the right beliefs does not make you a good person. If the man can do a good job, then let him.

    On a related note, how does the EEOC treat the Boy Scouts? Is the administration completely volunteer and that’s why they can get away with it? Or is there some religious exemption?

    • CGC

      Hi Everyone,
      So many times these issues confuse idealogy with reality. We had an open gay woman cubscout leader and everybody quit that den and we could get no one to come after that. I think people keeping their mouth shut about their sexual preferences or orientation would be much wiser than someone saying I am openly homosexual or I am openly a hetrosexual. Whatever one’s positions on issues like this, I just don’t think people take into consideration the deep complexites of the issue or somehow think that what I would do is what everybody else would do or should do. The world does not work that way!

      • A good consideration, but at the same time, there is a good deal of value in being open about who you are. When something finally does come out, it will be a much bigger problem, and much more painful, than if everyone were open from the start.

  • Ramona

    While Chris makes an excellent point about sexual orientation not defining the worth of a person, I must ask what are “right beliefs”? Isn’t that the kind of thinking that gets us into these sorts of messes to begin with? The absolute reality is that we have individuals who, for whatever reason, are gay. They deserve the same “rights” that all of the “right believers” do. Geez, it’s not rocket science. This is an issue of equality, respect, acceptance, and love. Get a grip. Someone’s sexual orientation is a “nunya”, if you will. When sexual practices in the privacy of anyone’s bedroom become topics for interview questions is when the right believers need to control has gone beyond reasonable!

    • Ramona, I think you are connecting some dots here and drawing some conclusions that are questionable.

      “who, for whatever reason, are gay.”
      If, as many Christians believe, the reason someone is gay is rooted in some sort of spiritual deception, and is against God’s will, then the “reason” is extremely important.

      “This is an issue of equality, respect, acceptance, and love.”
      But you left out one thing: it’s also an issue of character. Since character is central to the Scouts’ mission, then whether or not homosexuality is sinful is very relevant.

      “when the right believers need to control”
      I don’t agree there is a need to control here. The Scouts have a right to establish characteristics necessary for membership. I am sure that if someone had other characteristics which you believe are not in line with their stated purpose, you’d have no problem with excluding them.

  • John in PDX

    Below is what BSA sent to us Boy Scouts.
    Personally I am reviled that Obama is using this for his politcal gain. He didn’t even show up to Jamboree because he had an interview on ‘The View’
    I have never had a boy bring it up. The only time it gets brought up is with adults. Boy Scouts is not about sexual orientation.
    Even though it’s overdue I think they are handling it in the right way if it gets voted thru. Let the boys in the troop decide.
    Boy Scouts of America

    Monday, Jan 28, 2013

    Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations

    “For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working
    together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character
    development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always
    been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in
    the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

    “Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the
    national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would
    mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation,
    and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept
    membership and selected leaders consistent with each organization’s mission,
    principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able
    to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

    “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious,
    civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to
    determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any
    circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under
    this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to
    act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or
    religious beliefs.”

    Matthew S. (Matt)
    Devore | Scout Executive / CEO

    Pacific Council

  • Jane

    I had a conversation with my 89 year old mother this past year about gays and pedophiles, and despite her being an intelligent woman with plenty of life experience, she did not understand the difference. Do you think it’s somehow easier for pedophiles to hide their attraction to children because we’re not so likely to be suspicious of someone who functions like we do in society? Jerry Sandusky being a major case in point. Are we suspicious of those who are attracted to adults of the same sex and think that carries over to an attraction to children? Can someone be both gay and a pedophile? I don’t know the answers to these questions and do think there shouldn’t be arbitrary barriers to equality. Eliminating the national policy stand seems to be a good start to equality, especially for boys who have self-identified as gay and interested in being scouts.

    • Jerry Sandusky is a classic example. Because he was married, because he had money, because he appeared to be one thing, those boys didn’t stand a chance against him and they knew it. Why do Believers think that forcing people into a role of deceitfulness is best for any of us? Being gay isn’t the same as being a pedophile. Can you be both? Of course. But as the BSA’s own history proves you can also be heterosexual and a pedophile.

  • Karen, I normally don’t get involved with these conversations, because I have learned over the years that arguing homosexuality on the internet only results in squabbles and often hurt feelings. Everyone wants to change minds, but no minds ever get changed.
    So with the disclaimer that I don’t want to argue the actual issue of homosexuality with you right now, I am asking for your explanation/elaboration of how you reconcile Scripture — you know, those verses, often referred to as “clobber verses”, which seem to cast same-sex sex as sin — with your position.

    Note that I am not asking for something which will cause you to answer that you know some gay people and love them and are convinced they didn’t have a choice, etc. I have heard that, and I understand why that would affect someone’s thoughts about this topic. But I’m asking what you, personally, do with those verses which address homosexuality, and how they fit into your mindset/worldview/doctrine.

    • James: First of all the Bible as we know it didn’t exist when Jesus was walking the face of the earth. If Jesus had thought the issue of homosexuality was all that important, I’m sure he would have addressed it — and maybe he did and someone didn’t like what he had to say so they didn’t record it. Happens all the time in newsrooms. What do I do with the scripture verses that claim God hates gays? The same thing I do when I hear Pastor Fred Phelps making the same claim. I measure it as I do the directive for women to wear head coverings, and count it as part of the cultural influences of the day.

      • Ouch! I don’t appreciate being thrown in with the likes of Phelps. For the record, it’s possible to conclude, from Scripture reading, that something is a sin in God’s eyes, without resorting to the kind of hatefulness that Phelps espouses.

        Thanks for answering. I will disagree with you that (a) homosexuality hadn’t been mentioned in Scripture that already existed when Jesus walked the earth, and (b) that Jesus didn’t mention that topic. But I got your answer. Thanks.

        • JW: No one is throwing you in with Phelps. I thought your question was about how I responded to the issue.

          What I said is that the Bible as we know it today didn’t exist when Jesus walked the earth.

          Where is the quote, the parable, the story where Jesus directly addresses homosexuality?

          • I know. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that someone could draw this conclusion and not be hateful. And I don’t need to tell you that there are plenty of people who agree with you about gay issues who extremely hateful.

            I don’t want to get into a scripture verse-based argument about this topic, as previously discussed. I just wanted to say that you made two assertions that I disagreed with, because I felt that if I didn’t, then I would appear to be agreeing with you about those two points.

  • Tara J

    I was raised by Mama and Daddy not to leave anyone out. Ever. This was a serious infraction. I can remember playing at Granny’s with all my cousins, and the last words Mama would say as we got out of the car, “Be nice. Don’t leave anyone out.” Reading this the memory came back. I realize that I am raising my children the same way. Having said that, I might be more inclined to allow my little guy to participate in BSA if they do revoke their ban. However, since it looks like it will be left up to the local troops, I don’t have high hopes. Living down here, it’s not likely to be revoked by local troops, though I might be surprised. Thanks for the information.

    • I love this, Tara. Don’t leave anybody out. Great wisdom from some insightful parents.

  • Ramona

    @James, I know you asked for
    Karen’s input, not mine, but my question is how do those scriptures to which you refer lead to a shunning of the person? I can understand a stance that the behavior is wrong but cannot understand how that translates into shunning or discriminating against the individual. Are we not taught to love the sinner? Is the logic that all sinners should be outcast? If that is the case, then who of any of us is worthy? Please note that I am not a Biblical scholar, but have been taught that the teachings of Christ supersede those Old Testament teachings.

    • So you think not including a group of people in an organization is equivalent to shunning? I’m not sure I agree. There are many groups to which I could never belong, because of who I am. Women’s groups, of course. Motorcycle enthusiasts. Vegans. Organizations for any of a large number of ethnicities. You get the idea. If the Boy Scouts feel that homosexuals do not fit into their mission, then it is just as acceptable as a gay-themed organization not allowing me in. The words “shunning” or “outcast” do not fit here.

      • The difference James is that the vegans don’t tell you you can’t be a member if you eat meat. And the motorcyclists will welcome you even if you drive an RV.

        • Really? Well, they’re entitled to, I suppose,. But I would have no problem with them if they didn’t allow non-vegans or non-bikers into their respective organizations.

  • John in PDX

    BSA treated it like the US budget the last 4 years. They just kicked the can. They voted to not vote.

    Just so we are clear about one of the main reasons that this needs to be resolved (unfortunately) is money. Boy Scouts have become a big organizations with lots of paid employees. Many large companies have been pulling funding because of this issue. In my neck of the woods the last one was Intel.

    • Good insights, John. I had no idea this was all about money. Should have figured as much.

  • pagansister

    Unfortunately they have decided to “study” this a little longer!