Thank you Boy Scouts, and I understand

Alleluia and praise be!  The Boy Scouts of America have agreed to allow openly gay boys as members!!

The AP reports that of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal. The policy change approved by the 1,400-member National Council would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the organization said.

Here’s a statement issued by the BSA after the vote:

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change. …

“The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place.”

As a parent with two girls in scouting (one a rising 10th grader who is still involved!) I am so grateful for this step you have taken.  Though I wish you could have gone one step further to welcome gay leaders, I do understand where you’re coming from.

See, I love my kids with such an intensity it is sometimes staggering.  I move heaven and earth to protect them and their friends from the evils of this world.  I also know that I am sometimes afraid of things that I do not fully understand. Sometimes I’m willfully ignorant and sometimes the culture around me conspires to keep me uninformed and afraid. So as I think about your decision to allow gay scouts but not gay leaders I believe I see hearts and minds that are opening to love in beautiful new ways.  You are actively listening to the lives of the young people you serve – thanks be to God.  I can also feel your struggle to protect them with a ferocity I recognize in myself.  I want to believe that, in your lack of understanding, you simply still believe that your children are not safe with gay leaders so of course you want to protect them.    I can not fault you one iota for loving children so much.

But this seems like as good of time as any to cut right to the chase: according to the American Psychological Association, “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.” Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men.

The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.

Here’s some more great reading from UCDAVIS if you care to explore further.

So though you are wrong in your ignorance, I love you for how fiercely it seems you love children.  I lift up a prayer of immense gratitude for your love that seeks to protect and now include far more children.  I hope you don’t mind that I’ll also be praying for your continued discernment and that your hearts and minds keep on evolving.  I’m also asking that YOU will keep praying, listening and learning to be allies of gay adults who want to serve in your organization.  I pray you will take the phone off the hook when well-funded, lie-spreading organizations ring you up as much as I hope you’ll pick up when the still small voice of Love rings.  I believe that love can and will win out over the droning drums of fear and ignorance.

 

An Open Letter to Billy Humphrey of IHOP Atlanta on ‘Homosexuality and Gay Marriage’
Murderers, terrorists and me
A response to 40 questions for Christians now waving rainbow flags
In love with fear
About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

  • Steven Jones

    Hi Kimberly, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog on the Patheos Progressive Christian portal. I am a Methodist minister in South Africa, have a 15-year-old son in Scouting, and am also a Scout leader, and have been watching the developments within BSA with some interest.

    What I find curious, though, is how BSA establishes one’s sexual orientation when it comes to Scouts or adult leaders. Is there a specific question asked when one applies to join?

    Perhaps this may have something to do with South Africa’s Constitutional prohibition on discrimination based on (inter alia) sexual orientation, but there is nothing in Scouts South Africa’s membership application forms where one is required to specify this. In the adult leader application form, there is a requirement to submit two character references focusing specifically on the applicant’s suitability to work with children, but one’s sexual orientation does not come into it.

    I agree wholeheartedly with BSA’s statement concerning sexual conduct between Scouts; Scouts South Africa contains similar prohibitions. It would also be inappropriate for adults to engage in sexual conduct whilst on Scouting activities – whether the parties concerned are married to each other or not, and regardless of whether they are of same or opposite gender.

    However, while I appreciate your graciousness shown in the above post, I nonetheless find it appalling that an organisation such as BSA should continue to discriminate against potential adult leaders in this way.

    I became involved in Scouting as an adult because (a) it was a way of being part of something that my son thoroughly enjoys, thereby enabling me to spend time with him; (b) it was a way of giving something back to the community in a wider sense than solely through the churches I serve; and (c) as a former Scout myself I resonate with the values that Scouting instils in youngsters. It therefore saddens me that (for example) you would be denied the opportunity to become similarly involved in your children’s lives because of BSA’s bizarre notion that the fact that your life partner happens to be of the same gender as yourself.

    As for BSA’s apparent concern around child molestation, the reality is that one’s sexual orientation does not determine whether an adult leader has the propensity to molest children, and in fact there is no guarantee that ANY adult leader would not engage in such behaviour. The best that any organisation can do is to be vigilant in its background checks, have solid child protection policies in place, and act appropriately should any unbecoming conduct take place. However, using this as a pretext to discriminate against adult leaders who happen to be gay goes against the spirit of the 4th Scout Law, “A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother (sic) to every other Scout”.

  • Zach Broom

    Is it possible to love but disagree? I think so.

    http://zrants.com/2-b/ap/32-hxcc1

  • Paula Marcotte O’Connor

    One thing they are totally missing is that one day those Gay boys will grow up to be men. Then when those men want to become adult leaders they will be denied. I am sure they will agree that those who have been in the program are the best leaders.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      I want to believe that is the case but I am afraid that for a little while longer they will not see it that way. They already don’t. It is not random queer folk that want to be leaders now but men who have grown up in BSA and believe in what they have learned over a lifetime in the program. Time – in time I believe they will become more fully open.

      In the meantime Girl Scouts have been there for a while now :)

  • Neil Bob

    Sorry to disagree, but I no me re want “openly gay” boy scouts any more than I want “openly straight” boy scouts. Boy scouts isn’t about sex! And if some one has to flaunt what or who they like to hump at night then they shouldn’t be involved with the BSA

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Bingo Neil! I agree 100% because being gay is as much about “who they like to hump at night” as being straight – at ANY age.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Nice. CNN posted an article Thursday from someone on the other side of this issue. I responded here.
    Gay boys out in the Boy Scouts is one of those problems that just vanishes when you redefine it as a non-problem.

  • SG12

    Kimberly: I admire your non-inflammatory words. I truly see “love” in your writing. It is hard to resist love. And yes. . .love wins! Perichoresis: let us never step out of that life-embracing dance.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you, I do hope we will see a day when we all see that embrace.

  • jeffstraka

    I think a lot of UCC churches will need to step up to the plate to sponsor troops kicked out of conservative (and even “mainline”?) churches: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/minister-says-he-will-boot-boy-scouts-if-they-allo/nWHqf/

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      You betcha they will!

  • Eric

    Well, it’s a step in the right direction, and one I wasn’t at all confident that they’d make. With this decision, I think it is inevitable that BSA will eventually decide to allow gay scout leaders, maybe after this has a little time to settle in.


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