Follow Up to My Post about Gay Boy Scouts

Follow Up to My Post about Gay Boy Scouts June 11, 2013

So far, the main objection raised here has been that boys and young men with a sexual preference for males should be excluded from Boy Scouts because their presence will make heterosexual boys uncomfortable.

To you who raised this objection I ask–What is your advice, then, for public schools? Boys and young men shower together after gym and sports activities all the time. Should schools exclude students with same-sex orientation? From what? How?

“Gay boys” and “gay young men” have been in public schools for a very long time and still are. Heterosexual boys and young men aren’t threatened by them. They are more threatened by their fellow heterosexual bully students who humiliate them and harass them–often sexually–in the locker rooms and showers and elsewhere.

IF you think boys who are aware that they have a homosexual orientation should be excluded from Boy Scouts, do you also think they should be excluded from public schools? If not, why not (in light of what I wrote above)?


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  • Esther Starr

    They should not be excluded from public schools, but they should be excluded from all sports or gym teams that would put boys in a locker room environment together.

    • Roger Olson

      Maybe they should just be put in concentration camps and be done with it?

      • Stephen Hood

        Many of the comments here are rooted in fear bordering on the demonic. I commend the BSA for their spirit of openness and compassion. The Scouts have a long tradition of welcoming kids that don’t fit in and I’m glad they’ve recognized that a gay kid doesn’t have to be a threat to the tribe.

    • Marius Lombaard

      why? so that the straight guys can grow up in ignorance? or that they can grow up in [un]reality?

  • I’m Gay and I was in the Boy Scouts. My troop was sponsored by
    St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Potomac, Maryland. Admittedly this was back in
    the late 1960s to early 1970s, when the modern Gay rights movement was in its
    infancy, and the prospect of Gay youth “coming out” was unthinkable. But the
    fact remains that my sexual orientation was irrelevant to scouting activities,
    and I imagine the same went for the majority of boys who were Straight (i.e.
    heterosexual). The official Boy Scout Handbook was not heterocentric. The issue
    of sexual orientation, one way or another, was simply irrelevant.

    Gay boys and men have always participated in the BSA and always will,
    regardless of the official policy. I’m just glad the when boys in the scouts
    start coming to grips with a different sexual orientation (usually while in
    their early teens), they will not be kicked out when they need that social
    support structure the most. And if some people are so consumed by their
    animosity toward Gay people that they choose to leave the BSA, they won’t be

    This is not to say that individual Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual
    orientation, shouldn’t be held accountable for inappropriate behavior. They
    should be. But sexual orientation in and of itself should not be a barrier to

    • Roger Olson

      Just what I said.

  • candeux

    This is a great answer, thanks; I suspect I will have to use it someday.

    I’m not terribly comfortable in public showers, but it has nothing to do with whether a gay man might be present. And, as you note, school-age boys have a lot more to worry about with bullies than they do with gays.

    I was watching the infamous Chris Broussard interview recently (where he and others were discussing NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out as gay) and someone noted that the only potential problems that GMs, coaches, and players had come up with was that some of the players might feel uncomfortable in the locker room. It’s hard for me to imagine an NBA player being genuinely worried about this.

  • Rob

    I wonder if the actual worry is not about someone who happens to have same-sex inclinations but about someone who embrace those inclinations as defining his identity.

    When someone says “I am gay” I cannot believe that he means merely that he has same-sex attraction. In today’s culture, saying that you are gay is letting the world know who you truly are. I think that is how any competent speaker of American English in the 21st century would interpret such a pronouncement.

    In the past, such a pronouncement could not be made because society did not recognize homosexuality as an identity–it was more like a label for deviant behavior or perhaps a mental illness.

    But in the past few decades, society at large has come to recognize a certain type of person as being defined by sexual orientation. I can think of many reasons why people would disagree with this attitude and why they would not want to be seen as promoting it.

    • Roger Olson

      I don’t see how NOT kicking a gay person out of an organization is promoting gay identity. What happened to tolerance?

      • Rob

        Well, once someone makes a personal stand on such a morally charged issue like that it seems that if you do not disagree, then you have at some level accepted the stance as legitimate. Probably many would not want to see such a stance go through unopposed or have the last word nor would they want to make a children’s organization an arena for such debate. Certainly someone might find it easier to just try and preempt that issue from arising.

        I don’t have a solution to the issue. But I do not think that the issue here in the 21st century is merely one of sexual orientation. ‘Gay’ just means more than that now. I agree that our society should tolerate different sexual orientations, but it does not follow from that that private organizations have to tolerate all viewpoints on sexual orientations.

        • Roger Olson

          I’m not arguing that the Boy Scouts should “agree” with any particular view regarding sexual orientation (e.g., whether having a homosexual one is normal or objectively disorded). I’m arguing that it is wrong because non-compassionate (even cruel) to exclude a boy from Boy Scouts just because he has become aware that he has a homosexual orientation. I hope you can see the difference.

  • pagansister

    First I don’t think that a boy who is homosexual should be excluded from the BSA. I have yet to figure out what folks are so scared of. I did read some of the “cons” mentioned in the previous article’s comments. Do folks actually think that the “straight” boys will be jumped and sexually assaulted? I worry more about possible leaders who are child molesters than perhaps a boy who is a gay member of the BSA. As for separating the “gay” boys from public schools? Would one start public schools only for homosexual boys and girls? Some people are so afraid of something that is NOT scary in any way, shape or form.

  • res2

    Bullying… well said!

  • steve rogers

    We must have this conversation. Thanks for facilitating it in your forum.

  • TerryJames

    Why do we have separate locker rooms for girls and boys? Isn’t it their sexual orientation? If that’s true then maybe the solution is to have a gay-only troop. Can’t we accommodate the gay scout while remaining sensitive to the heterosexual scout who may be uncomfortable showering, etc with a person of a different sexual orientation? In our desire to show love to the gay scout we should also remain caring for those who may be uncomfortable with the situation.

    • Roger Olson

      Or…how about a separate shower for those who are uncomfortable showering with others?

      • Holly

        I have six sons. Most boys are not comfortable showering around others. I would prefer separate showers, for all boys. Most boys camps do not have this – do not even have doors nor curtains.

        • Roger Olson

          Unless things have changed considerably since I was a teenager in school, however, communal showers and open locker rooms are the norm in most schools. The bad stuff that happens there does not have to do with gay boys seducing or assaulting or intimidating heterosexual boys; it has to do with heterosexual bullies teasing smaller, weaker boys (not as physically developed yet) and tormenting them by snapping them with towels, etc. (while using sexually humiliating language aimed at them).

          • Holly

            Maybe. I’ve always home-educated my sons. They’ve never been subjected to the bullying in locker rooms. (They grew up just fine, too…good jobs/college ed/relationships, etc. I say that because someone will say I sheltered too much. I think sheltering children is healthy.)

            Anyway – I was supporting what you said – which is, what about a separate shower. Great idea.

          • Roger Olson

            You may be right, but thinking back to junior high school–I am certain no bullied boy went home and told his mother what was happening to him in the locker room.

          • SavonarolasAshes

            I was a gay student at an all boys Jesuit high school. I was bullied and subjected to sexual harassment pretty much every day. Some straight students tried to get me to “service” them.

            I wasn’t out. The bullying started before I knew what homosexuality was. Just before my 13th birthday, I chose to befriend a student who had been bullied for allegedly being “gay” because I thought no one deserved to be treated so ruthlessly. I could see it was harming him, and I thought he needed someone to help carry his cross. I thought it was my duty as a Christian and a man.

            I was completely ostracized by the students and called obscene name everyday from eighth through twelfth grade. Shortly after the bullying started, I figured out I was a homosexual. In the school library, I read the words of Chrysostom’s sermon against the “Sodomites” who said I people like me are murderers of souls and were better off dead.

            I stopped believing in the possibility of my own salvation but stayed in the church because I was determined to harm no one and knew no other moral and ethical authority.Those were the darkest years of my life. I’ve had cancer twice since then and am facing the possibility of an incurable recurrence of my first cancer after almost two decades. Believing you wil die is not as hard as believing you deserve to die.

            It’s a cliche, but pressure does create diamonds. I had a good calculus teacher, and I realized I could understand all of what i was being taught. That gave me a sense of self-worth. So in addition to doing my usual homework, I practiced solving calculus problems for an extra 3 hours a day. I went from being a C student at the beginning of the year to second in the class at the end. I became the best math undergrad at my university, which was ranked in the upper teens in mathematics, one of the best schools in the south in math. During my senior year, I interviewed for a job with the federal government. I was excluded out because of my orientation, even though I hadn’t had sex and didn’t intend to.

            I went on to get a Ph.D. and to post doc at the two best universities in mathematics and applied mathematics, but the Catholic church lost me when it said that I should be subject to discrimination in employment. ( ). The Church tried to take away the only thing that restored some of the dignity that the church took from me.

            So, Molly, I won’t criticize you for home schooling your sons to keep them from meeting the kind of boy i was. i’ll thank you for not participating in a school system where your (well intentioned?) narrow mindedness would cause real harm.

          • LinenEphod

            Most school in our area do not allow showering at all for various reasons: cell phones, bullying, sexuality, etc. Some sports teams and extra curricular activities can shower, but it is not the norm. Most schools built now are getting away from “communal showers” for many of the reasons stated above. Ask your local high school principal what the policy is at your school. Guaranteed they have one because of various issues.

          • Roger Olson

            And surely there are similarly creative ways of addressing the issue of homosexually-oriented and heterosexually-oriented Boy Scouts camping together.

    • labreuer

      Testosterone gives males a huge advantage over females when it comes to using violent force. This seems to be a strong enough reason for segregation. In terms of being fearful of being around people with same-sex attraction, that seems like a fear not worth catering to unless there is threat of violence. It is not at all clear that people with same-sex attraction are any more likely to act out such violence than people with opposite-sex attraction. Male-male rape does not require SSA.

  • mathster

    Thank you for your sensible comments. We often have to go through these seemingly ridiculous steps in history to arrive at a higher place in our thinking. Of course, Jesus welcomed all people. Why can’t we emulate that? Especially in our churches…unless we just want to be so righteous and selective that many, many, many do not feel we are relevant anymore. Gayness isn’t catching.

    • Holly

      Children may certainly be influenced toward homosexuality. To think otherwise is woefully naive. When boundaries are broken down, when no guidelines are set (and are in fact denied,) children are very vulnerable to suggestibility within gender and sexual identity.

    • Holly

      Also, Jesus did welcome all people, but He did not leave them without an example nor without guidelines. What exactly were all of the guidelines regarding sexual boundaries about in the New Testament?

      • Roger Olson

        I don’t see the new Boy Scouts policy clashing with any New Testament guidelines about sexuality. The latter can be summed up in one word about forbidden behavior: porneia which means sex outside of marriage.

  • rvs

    Thanks for this discerning question.

  • Richard H

    Begin uncomfortable is a normal and necessary part of life, something we cannot and ought not shield ourselves or our children from. I was a Boy Scout in my teen years. Some of my most uncomfortable experiences then (1970s) were when my fellow scouts told their dirty jokes. I had no idea at the time that there was such a thing as “homosexuality;” and, as far as I know, all my fellow scouts presented themselves (if there is such a thing) as “heterosexual.” But they were too crude, rude, and misguided in their verbal expressions with respect to sexuality.

    What would be nice is if there would be some place in society where we could shield ourselves and our kids from being treated as sexual objects, or as potential objects for sexual gratification. I know we don’t have that now, whether in scouting or in schools. The difference may be that before this change we may have been able to pretend that it was so in some organizations.

  • labreuer

    Roger, maybe you would have some useful things to say on whether or not Christians have the ‘right’ to be comfortable. It’s dangerous to make arguments from silence, but I suspect nobody is willing to come to the bat to defend that idea. I’ll bet plenty still believe it though, so perhaps it would be a good idea to go on the offensive?

  • J.E. Edwards
  • Brian Schallow

    The big difference here is public vs. private. No they cannot be excluded from the public schools, but a private institution like the Boy Scouts are free to exclude who they want. I don’t understand why you seem to be so sympathetic to the homosexuals. Do you realize how many boys are molested by homosexuals? In fact young innocent boys are their preference. That is the nature and danger of homosexuality; it perverts everything it touches.

    • Roger Olson

      Yours is a “Schallow” reading of my post!