The Boy Scouts of America have lost their way.
I was once a boy scout. On an unrelated note, I used to think homosexuality was weird. It’s hard to remember exactly the way I felt about homosexuality when I was younger. I remember as a teen thinking that it was gross. I don’t remember fearing gay people. I know I didn’t hate them.
The first time I remember knowing a peer was gay was when I was a sophomore in high school. David choreographed the dance moves for my high school swing choir that year. David never came out to me. Heck, I never heard him talk about being gay. He was just the senior student who happened to have moves, and he taught me how to dance. After David graduated, wouldn’t you know it, our next choreographer was gay, too (but I didn’t know that until twenty years later when we connected on Facebook – small world!).
I’m straight. I was allowed to get married. I’m allowed to be there, in the hospital room, should anything happen to my beloved. I can speak on her behalf. The government recognizes that we’ve made a choice to become a joint legal entity. In most parts of the world, that’s not true if you’re a homosexual. I believe this is wrong. Gay, straight, it shouldn’t matter. I don’t believe governments should legislate away the right of any adult to enter into a loving relationship with another adult. Live and let live. Love and let love. And no, a civil union is not the same thing.
The Boy Scouts of America have a long-standing anti-homosexual policy. They do not allow gay adults to serve. If you’re a scout who identifies himself as gay, agnostic, or atheist, the BSA will no longer allow you to participate. As a private organization, they can do that. It’s their constitutional right to reinforce intolerance. Kind of like how the Klu Klux Klan doesn’t allow anyone but white people to join. Private organizations can do what they want. The scouts do this, in theory, to support their values and protect the boys that are part of scouting.
Unfortunately, it’s all a farce. Over 14,000 pages worth of documents recently went public, with records stretching back nearly a century detailing abuse of scouts at the hands of members of the BSA’s leadership. The BSA says they want to avoid further disclosure, saying that it would only harm the boys they are trying to protect. The BSA says that releasing information about the sexual predators in their ranks would discourage future victims from coming forward.
Even though the policy is decades old and out-of-date, the BSA recently affirmed their stance against gays or lesbians participating in scouting. This sounds an awful lot like what we’ve heard from the Catholic Church. When an organization steeps itself in homophobia, I believe they expose the children of their organizations to greater risks. The powers for change, for goodness, and growth that understand that homosexuality is not a choice leave their ranks. These organizations have pushed good people out the door, and shoved the conversation into the closet. They leave the predators undetected, and unhindered, to prey on the unsuspecting youth they are supposed to protect.
It is time for the BSA, the Catholic Church, and other organizations like them to learn that we are all entitled to happiness, freedom, and love. Stop the bigotry. Embrace each other as humans.
I’m proud of the Eagle Scouts who have since renounced their awards. I was also proud to sign the change.org petition asking the Boy Scouts to allow Ryan Andresen to receive his Eagle Scout award. I’m writing today asking you to do the same thing.
I’m also asking you to no longer support the Boy Scouts of America. Until the BSA updates their policies to allow all young men the same opportunities, they will not receive my support. Check out Ryan’s story on Ellen. Sign the petition. Help this once proud organization regain their footing.