If the fear (and understand that you will never hear them articulate their true fear) is that accepting homosexuals as scout masters increases instances of molestation, then they should issue an equally loud outcry toward male coaches of girls’ athletic teams and males who lead church youth groups that include girls. I know of far more instances of inappropriate and illegal behavior by leaders of those groups. The national BSA “leadership” doesn’t seem to consider that their policy puts scouts more at risk of sexual victimization, because it focuses on a population statistically less likely to offend than the general population, and away from true predators, such as, say, the great football defensive coordinator at Penn State who nobody ever accused of being gay. Predators are genius at choosing their playgrounds, and sleight of hand is their thing.
If the fear is that gay boy scouts or gay scout leaders will influence straight boy scouts to become gay, well, that’s just dumb. Stupid. Ignorant. All the politically incorrect terms that point to a brain that simply doesn’t operate well and feels no compulsion to gather any real information or make change.
It’s time we started calling things by their real names. The National Board of the BSA is replete with bigots. They benefit from being part of a culture (and I blame the conservative/religious right for this because they are masters at calling something its exact opposite) that has somehow made it more heinous to call someone a bigot than to be a bigot.
The big wigs of the BSA will do what they do. Their “leadership” is filled with hard-wired dogmatists, and their asses are covered by the Supreme Court. About the only thing Decent America can do is never contribute and don’t join. The Scouts’ true value is to give us something visible to stand against.
But Decent America must also require their media to tell the truth when dealing with issues such as this. The whole truth. USA Today reported that a “special committee comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion…” While the article names the Scouts’ chief executive – Bob Mazzuca – and two members of the executive board – James Turley and Randall Stephenson, who have “recently indicated they would try to work from within to change the policy,” - none of the other members of that “special committee” were named. They are allowed to promote their bigoted policy under a cloud of anonymity. Tough investigative journalists have exposed the identities of CEO’s and underlings responsible for the recent Wall Street crash. They ferret out undersecretaries of undersecretaries whose emails have contributed to all manner of governmental excesses. Hell, a National Enquirer reporter brought down John Edwards. Certainly there is an investigative reporter out there somewhere willing to track down the names and photos of this “special” subspecies so that twenty years from now we can look back on them with the same contempt that civil rights champions look back on the likes of George Wallace and Orville Faubus.
I worked as a child and family therapist full time for almost twenty years, still chair my county’s original child protection team. Before that I was an educator of students k-12 in alternative education. I have worked with gay teenagers trying to find their way in all venues, many simply staying alive long enough to find respite among intelligent and compassionate humans, accepting enough to let them have control of their own lives in a hateful greater American climate; worked with gay foster parents, gay teachers, gay artists, coaches, business people. When I hear willfully uninformed people from the so-called right talk about the “gay lifestyle,” I automatically think, Get up, grab breakfast, go to work, try to live a meaningful life…JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! There is no gay lifestyle, people. There is only a forced secretive existence in response to “Christian” conservative bigotry. Lifestyle has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Should I be asked to “come out” as a heterosexual? “Hi. I’m Chris Crutcher. I do what is none of your damn business with women.”
Famed weight-loss expert and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee revealed his true colors following the Boy Scouts statement, declaring that keeping gays out of scouting will protect boys from abuse. Huckabee consistently doubles down on his political views by couching them in his religion, and in the process contributes to the shameful name of both. There is no correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. None. Mike Huckabee willingly allows his philosophy to trump his humanity.
Morality is about decency, plain and simple. It’s not about religion and it’s not about sex. It isn’t an abstract; it’s about action. I’m not a Christian but I grew up in a Christian church and am hard-wired with many of its teachings, and the Jesus of my imagination would slap Mike Huckabee down like a moneychanger. Decent America must deny extremists - Huckabee and all his Huckabettes - their basic premises, because if you accept a stupid basic premise, you enter into a stupid conversation.
Based on my conversations with teenagers, and I have had many, I’m guessing that Scouts themselves are far more accepting of their gay peers than is their “leadership.” A majority of young people with whom I’m in contact don’t get what the gay marriage or gays in the military controversies are even about. As one high schooler told me only a few weeks ago, “Who gives a shit?”
Well, Scouts, here’s my advice to all of you who want to be on the right side of history, as well as the right side of humanity. Get new “leadership.” Better yet, get leadership. If it comes from the ranks, they can’t deny you.
PHOTO: What a pussy scout I was [second from the right, age 13]. That was a bunch of scouts from McCall and me headed for the National Jamboree in Colorado Springs in 1960.