The Boy Scouts Get It Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

David Crary at the Associated Press just broke the news that "the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays." A month ago, when I wrote that it was almost time to return to the Boy Scouts because they were going to dump the policy, I apparently placed too much faith in those who wanted to reform the organization. I'm told, so far, that the LDS church (hmm, don't we know a prominent public figure who is Mormon?) and the Southern Baptists have a lot of power internally, and that they blocked any movement into the 21st century. Here's Crary's quote that suggests that (emphasis mine):

The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both leaders and Scouts. "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said.

The Human Rights Campaign's press release, quoting new president Chad Griffin, gets it right: “This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions. With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.” Anyone wanna bet on how long it will take them to change? Surely not as long as it took the Southern Baptists to acknowledge they got it wrong on slavery, with an apology that finally arrived in 1995. (And no, I am not comparing the Boy Scouts' exclusion of gay people to slavery. Not even close. I'm just being ironical, 'k?)

Here's what's notably missing from the AP report: any suggestion that the policy exists because the Boy Scouts believe that all gay men are pedophiles, and that keeping them out will keep boys safe. In the wake of the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal and the waves of education on child sexual abuse in this country, I don't know how that could be seriously argued any longer. The CDC issued its guidance for "preventing sexual abuse in youth-serving organizations" three years ago, with an appropriate focus on monitoring behavior, not identity. I do remember when, once upon a time, gay people were terrified of starting youth groups for teenagers just coming out, because of the myth that we were all predators, out recruiting since we couldn't reproduce. But if that were the reason for the policy, why kick out Cub Scout den mother Jennifer Tyrell, a stay-at-home mom of four kids, for being a lesbian? I read this as the Boy Scouts saying that to be "morally straight," in accordance with their code, you must be heterosexually straight as well—that lesbians and gay men are moral failures from the get-go.

If only the far more progressive Girl Scouts would expand to add some all-boy troops! Herewith, a flashback to my youth:

Comments

The extent of institutionalized gay-bashing in America is truly astonishing.

The Southern Baptists, the LDS, and the RCC make strange bedfellows considering they each consider the other vile and heretical.

On the upside, this ban wont prevent one single gay kid from growing up to be a gay man, which is exactly their mission.

EJ Graff is right--huge market opening for the Girl Scouts or some other group that could fill the void for 21st-century parents. BSA's position is astonishing at a time when 90% of LGBT kids report harassment in school and a third skip at least a day of school because of fears for their safety (GLSEN, 2010). As she notes, guess we should prepare ourselves for a DAR-style apology.

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