Boy Scouts Become Slightly Less Bigoted, Allow Individual Packs To Decide To Discriminate Against Gays

Boy Scouts gayYou know that when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on something, it should be pretty much accepted by everyone in the country. And one of the very few things these two agreed on during the 2012 election was that the Boy Scout policy of discriminating against its members and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation was disappointing. Neither candidate was getting particularly forceful with their condemnation, but they both confirmed that they did not support the policy of excluding gay Scouts from membership.

This summer, the Scouts reaffirmed their stance on discrimination, going so far as to deny a young man his earned “Eagle Scout” status after he came out to his friends and family. And they pressured local chapters that attempted to be more inclusive to revert back to their bigoted national policy.

Now, all of the sudden, the Boys Scouts of America might be changing their tune. Possibly it’s in response to the waves of bad press surrounding the group, stemming not just from this policy, but also from new reports on widespread sexual abuse and assault that was covered up by the organization. Possibly someone in the organization leadership simply grew a conscious.

Spokesman for the group Deron Smith explains the Boy Scout’s newest policy, which doesn’t explicitly welcome gay members or leaders, but would leave it up to individual groups to make their own decisions. He says, “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. 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 select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

So really, the Boy Scouts of America might not be looking to move into the 21st century and accept all members regardless of sexual orientation. They might just be attempting to spread the blame. Still, the decision might lead to some packs becoming more open and fair.

Of course, the announcement, however weak it might be, still angers many conservatives. Religious pundits and culture wars leaders like Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins immediately denounced the decision. Fischer went so far as to tweet, “Jerry Sandusky is now the poster boy for Boy Scouts of America.” Perkins chastised the group for ”abandoning their historic values.”

But while pundits and politicians make sweeping statements about the decision, while the national organization tries to shift the blame, the good news is that some groups will decide to be more inclusive. The good news is that some little boys won’t have to worry or hide or feel like they don’t fit in. Hopefully, some leaders and young men will decide to make the right decision and be open to everyone who wants to join.

(Photo: Anthony Berenyi/Shutterstock)

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  • Eileen

    Hey, look, I might actually let my hypothetical future son be a Boy Scout! (I still wouldn’t encourage it since I don’t believe in groups that exclude based on sex – for what it’s worth, boys are allowed to be Girl Scouts – but I’ll take what I can get)

  • Eileen

    Hey, look, I might actually let my hypothetical future son be a Boy Scout! (I still wouldn’t encourage it since I don’t believe in groups that exclude based on sex – for what it’s worth, boys are allowed to be Girl Scouts – but I’ll take what I can get)

  • K.

    I’ve got relatives with great memories of being Boy Scouts (all the way to Eagle Scouts) and we’ve all watched the organization get co-opted by social extremism. It was a sad day when we all realized that none of us were interested in our own sons being Scouts because of this bigotry.

    For us, this is too little and it’s also too late. There are a lot of other organizations out there that offer similar experiences for boys, so we’re happy to look elsewhere.

    • Paul White

      I feel ya. I’m an Eagle, and while I’m still proud of what I did to earn it, and the dedication it took, I’m unsure if I’d encourage my son to go into scouting as it stands now. They’ve got a few years to clean up though…he’s only a few months old.

    • LindsayCross

      We’ve been in the same place. My husband was an Eagle Scout. He worked really hard in Scouts and he really appreciated the opportunity it gave him to bond with his own dad over camping and everything. He had a really great experience with it. But if we ever had a son, we just don’t know that we could put him in the scouts.

    • LiteBrite

      Me too. DH was a Scout, his dad was a Scout, his brother was a Scout. His family even switched religions (Lutheran to Presbyterian) because of the Scouts.

      But I will not put my son in Scouts. I know people have argued that the Boy Scouts have the right to make whatever policies they see fit for their organization. Fine. However, we make policies we see fit for our son, and joining notoriously homophobic organizations is not one of them.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Football coach who spent years raping young boys = gay youth who wants to live his life with honesty about who he is. Yes, that makes perfect sense, conservatives.

  • Victoria

    I dunno…I’m all for equal rights and less discrimination against gays, but I can’t help but think it was less about bigotry and more about protecting young boys from potential problems. Wouldn’t sending a bunch of boys out in the woods with a guy who was attracted to males be roughly the equivalent of sending a Brownie girl troupe into the woods to camp with a hetero man? I think people would be kind of uncomfortable with that, even if most men aren’t pedos.

    • K.

      You can’t be serious.

      Gay does not equal pedophile.
      Once more, with feeling:
      Gay does NOT equal pedophile.
      And once more, just so it sinks in:

      Gay men are attracted to other men. Their sexual preference is for men. Not children. Heterosexual men are attracted to women. Their sexual preference is for women. Not children. Pedophiles are attracted to children. Their (disturbed and predatory) sexual preference is children, okay? Got it??

    • Victoria

      I think I made the point that gay/straight does not equal pedophile. My whole point was that many parents might be uncomfortable sending their children out with a man attracted to the gender of their child. Would I send my little girl off into the woods for the weekend with a guy leader? No. That’s not intolerant or sexist of me. And I might have to think about whether I feel comfortable sending my boy out with a man who likes men. It was just a point I was thinking about. Take a deep breath, there.

    • K.

      Darling, I don’t think I’m reading between the lines too much; I think you aren’t reading, period, because clearly, you are still not getting it.

      It’s not intolerant or sexist of you to keep your daughter home if you are uncomfortable of her spending a weekend in the woods with a male Scout Leader–and I didn’t argue that. You are free to do whatever you want as a parent, especially when it comes to your child’s safety, no matter how ridiculous your paranoia.

      But you did not frame this as personal choice, you framed it as defending an institutional practice: “I can’t help but think it was less about bigotry and more about protecting young boys from potential problems. Wouldn’t sending a bunch of boys out in the woods with a guy who was attracted to males be roughly the equivalent of sending a Brownie girl troupe into the woods to camp with a hetero man?”

      And your point above would ONLY be logical if you subscribed to an intolerant and homophobic belief, which is that somehow, gay is an equivalent to pedophilia. Sending a bunch of boys out in the woods with a guy who happens to date other adult men is not the same as sending a bunch of boys out in the woods with a guy who wants to molest boys. Let me put it to you this way:

      I presume you are straight, yes? So, should I then presume that you are, by default, attracted to young boys as you are to men and that you would molest young boys because, as you are attracted to the opposite sex, and young boys are of the opposite sex, then you are thus attracted to young boys? Should I prevent my son from going over to his friend’s house for a sleepover, who’s single mother is *gasp* straight? After all, my son, he has a penis, just like adult men and she might try something with him! THAT is precisely what you are saying when you argue that we should restrict gay men from boy scouts because doing so “protects boys from potential problems”–there are no potential problems simply because a Scout leader is gay; there are only potential problems if a Scout leader is a pedophile. The two are not one and the same…Is it making any more sense or are you still going to live in your gay = pedophile homophobia?

      Furthermore, yes, pedophiles generally DO try to gain access to a variety of means–working for amusement parks and organizations that would include the BSA and the GSA. But the Boy Scouts didn’t talk about banning pedophiles (although one presumes they already DO); they are talking about banning both gay Scout leaders AND gay boy scouts. So if you want to not have a son in BSA because you’re afraid of pedophiles, so be it. By that logic, you might as well keep them away from Little League and karate classes and any Chuck-E-Cheese birthday parties as well. And you might want to rethink your membership of the Catholic Church (if you are Catholic), given their track-record. That’s your choice as a parent, and I advocated that choice above (although mine was based on ideological differences with the organization).

      But the argument that the Boy Scouts are somehow justified in their gay ban because it’s “protecting” boys is ridiculous and the idea that it’s a necessary protection because some male pedophiles pray on male children is the same as claiming that the Scouts are justified in banning African Americans as well because a higher percentage of African Americans have been incarcerated than whites.

      And please don’t make arguments that equate homosexuality with pedophilia and then claim one has to be aware of such things “for the sake of gay men.” You are talking about an exclusionary practice that seeks to deny equal opportunity rights to a certain class of individuals. Don’t even try and claim it’s “for their benefit.” That’s effed up and offensive.

    • StephKay

      If I could like this comment a million times, I would. This issue comes from a lack of understanding of how pedophilia actually works. There are plenty of male, heterosexual in their adult relationships, pedophiles who target little boys in their crimes. The two have absolutely zero connection. And if we’re going to be blunt here, since the “would you be okay with a straight man around your daughter” thing was brought up, the VAST majority of pedophiles are straight identified men. Like, not even close, hands down if they have any attraction outside of children its likely hetero. Again, statistically that has zero bearing on the sex or gender of the child they assault.

      Funny, I identify as pansexual and seem to have no problem raising my daughter. My gay, male best friend will likely be one of the first men to have a close relationship with my son when he’s born in a few weeks, and I’m not losing sleep over it. Should we be cautious with who we trust our children with? Absolutely. Does it change the fact that all the time we spend worrying about the big, bad, gay scout leader sets back equality immensely? Nope.

      Oh, and by the way, the man who abused me as a child? Married, straight, trusted and close to the family. The lesbian social worker that spent many, many hours alone with me helping me heal from that abuse was not only nothing but professional, but likely saved my life. My parents made me stop seeing her when I came out, no one ever knew about the wholesome family friend abusing me and he stayed in my parents lives. But hey, at least I wasn’t being subjected to all that lesbianism through my social worker, right? I bring my kids to pride each year for a reason. When we close the doors to equality we slam them shut in the faces of our children.

    • Bran Chesterton

      It makes me sad that you are automatically uncomfortable with a man being involved in Girl Scouting. It’s your right to feel that way, of course, but I think it’s sad. The people who go on overnight trips in ANY scouting organization are always with other adults – no one ever goes alone. Also, it’s generally parents that do so. A dad might want to be involved in his daughter’s scouting trip. If 4 dads wanted to take their daughter’s GS troop camping, I can’t imagine anyone being uncomfortable with that. What kind of message does that send to men? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s also highly unlikely that there wouldn’t be more female than male parents that wanted to go, but that’s beside the point.

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