I was a Boy Scout… for one meeting. I never went back because I thought it was lame. I was raised in rural Michigan, so I already spent plenty of time playing in the woods with my friends and I thought I would have to beat myself up if I ever wore that outfit to school. But the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have been the ones getting beat up recently for their ban on gay members, and rightfully so. After a ton of public pressure, some of it from their own members, the BSA has proposed allowing gay kids to be part of the troops, but will continue to ban gay adults from being involved as troop leaders. The BSA probably thinks this is very progressive of them, but it’s really not, as their compromise is rooted in homophobia.
The rule for adult scout leaders should simply be that they don’t discuss their sexuality, or sex in general, with the kids or anyone else in the organization. It would be the Boy Scout’s version of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. In fact, they already have this in their rule book for the kids. It doesn’t matter if a troop leader is gay or straight, the topic in general should never come up. Is the BSA saying that it’s ok to talk about sex with underage boys, as long as it’s sex with a man & woman? Of course not, so why make any distinction based on sexuality? Doing so only highlights their homophobia.
Speaking of homophobia, there’s an unspoken gay myth going on here. The BSA won’t publicly admit this, but many people like me feel that the real reason they don’t want gay scout leaders around the kids is because of the myth that all homosexuals are pedophiles. This is of course insulting and factually inaccurate. A gay man is attracted to other men, not boys. The BSA actually dismissed a lesbian parent from being a Boy Scout’s troop leader, which really proves that it’s about molestation since she wouldn’t be attracted to males anyway. Pedophilia exists in a small percentage of all people regardless of their sexuality. So a “straight” leader is just as likely to be a pedophile as a gay leader.
Any adult trusted around kids should go through a background check and should never be alone with a child. I do a lot of work helping non-profit groups get volunteers and these are standard rules. The BSA should be teaching these kids to be upstanding members of society that are always willing to help an old lady across the street without getting into her sex life. The BSA and the GOP have something in common; they don’t realize that they’re on the wrong side of history and that gay people are not evil child molesters. Continuing to spread that misconception will only result in the death of their organization… and if they can’t wake up and smell the 21st century, the BSA should go away. It would be the “unrestricted free market” at work and conservatives should choke on that irony.