Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scouting Frustration

I am not gay. My son is 7 so I have no idea if he is gay. But if either of us were we would be kicked out of Cub Scouts (I'm his Wolf Den Leader). Boy Scouts of America is the largest youth organization in the world and the courts have agreed they are allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The BSA confirmed today that gays are not allowed. Their main reasoning seems to be that they don't want to expose kids to sexual issues. I can respect that reasoning but I think it is not entirely truthful.

I believe that BSA is afraid of past and future scandals involving child abuse in the organization. If they permit gay people as leaders it will look like an endorsement of man/boy love somehow and people will rise up against them. I think they are right to fear child abuse within the BSA. We have to take annual training and many layers of safeguards have been put in to avoid it. But if a den or troop leader says they are gay that doesn't make them any more likely to abuse children than if they say they are straight. If I were a pedophile and a Scout leader I would try to appear as straight as possible to prevent anyone finding out.

A better policy in my opinion would be to not discriminate based on sexual orientation, make the youth protection policy as strong as it possibly can be, and outlaw sexual discussion instead. If they are concerned about kids learning about sex because of the orientation of the leader, they must also consider heterosexuals who (I am pretty sure) have just as much sex as gay people. Should they then not allow divorced people? I'm sure some of them are divorced because of sexual infidelity after all. If leaders agreed not to talk about sex that would solve the problem...unless the goal is that Scouts are being kept from even KNOWING any gay people.

If I were bisexual, would I be banned from Scouts? I could say I'm not gay and be honest about it. (I don't honestly know the extent of their policy.)

And don't even get me started on their policy on Atheists.

I allow my child to be in Cub Scouts. Our Pack's policy is more akin to don't ask, don't tell as far as religion and sexuality go. They are happy for whatever help they can get. I allow him to be part of it because it is an excellent organization in most other respects. Caleb gets so much out of it. Someday their policy will change and I would love it if he were part of it when it did. Perhaps he will even help to change it.

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