Wednesday, July 18, 2012

the BSA and homosexuality .

Well, I've been mulling the idea of writing about this topic over in my mind and after putting it off yesterday and sleeping on it I decided to go ahead and do it anyways. I want to preface this whole post with the fact that I have done little to no research on this topic, and so it's just the few bits and pieces of articles that have slipped through the cracks into my head. The Boy Scouts of America (referenced from now on as the BSA) reaffirmed their decision to ban gays from entering their organization. There are a lot of people that are angry about this, and can't seem to understand why. Well, I'm going to attempt to explore both sides of the argument -- despite the fact I'll probably catch a lot of flack for anything I write.

I was a Boy Scout once, and before that, a Cub Scout for many years. It was a good experience, and though I only stayed with the BSA for 2 years or so, still many of the things that we did helped teach me things and moral values that I've been able to hold on to. So I can understand why people would want to be a part of that.

I feel like from the viewpoint of the BSA, there are several reasons they would uphold their ban. The first is the comfort of the Scouts themselves. There are a lot of events where you're sleeping in the same tent or in other close quarters, especially during weeklong camps like Forestburg and various Jamborees. These are, after all, more or less kids we're talking about here, and it's very possible that they might feel uncomfortable sharing those close quarters with somebody who is gay. For the same reason that co-ed room assignments don't exist on campus, it would just be weird to share a living space with someone.

I know people who have had gay roommates before. And while it's tolerable when they bring home their boyfriend or something like that, it's just different, and sometimes that change takes some getting used to. Some people have the appearance and mannerisms associated with being gay (stereotypically) and other people don't; I don't know how or why that is, but it is. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. The obvious rebuttal for the comfort reason is that "Well, those people are just homophobes." I'm sorry, but that rebuttal is used oh too often for me. It's just a blatant accusation. For example, if I didn't like being in the dark, I may be uncomfortable spending time in a pitch black room, but it doesn't mean I'm going to freak out and run away.

From the point of the homosexual population, they believe that they should be able to enter into the organization and receive the benefits of strong morals and a great growing up experience regardless of their sexual orientation. They want to be included in something that is good for guys who just want to go camping and sailing and all of the things that the Boy Scouts do. I get that, and I can understand the frustration with being limited and rejected from something just because of the way you are.

It's nice to be a part of something, to be included in something. It's even nicer when people overlook social boundaries and stereotypes, and when anyone and everyone can and is included. But, I think, like many things in society, organizations can be selective, just as an employer can. There are laws against discrimination and such, but to be honest I'm no legal expert and I don't know the rules behind that.

To the people who were so frustrated by it, you can always still take your kids camping and teach them the same lessons that they would learn in the Scouts. When I was a Cub Scout, I did many of the merit badges and work to advance in rank on my own, with help from my parents. There are lots of things to learn and fun experiences to have just by exploring your own world. You don't need an organization for that; all you need is yourself.

At the end of the day, I think that the BSA is a private organization that can more or less do what they want (I don't know exactly how it's run, so it may be more public than I think and I'm actually just full of shit). Sure, they could implement a don't ask don't tell policy like the military, but I wonder if it would change the social dynamic and the general connotation of the organization. Any drastic change, especially one that has now had so much media coverage, would certainly change the reputation, either in a good or bad way, or both.

I know that the homosexual population has fought long and hard for the ground they've gained thus far, in legal rights, marriage, etc. I kind of wonder where all these people came from all of a sudden, or if they just sort of all came out of the woodwork at the same time. It sort of seems like once the bandwagon was established, people realized the strength in numbers and all pursued it. And that's fine -- but sometimes the arguments are a little too much, I think. I'm  know my share of gays that are enjoyable to spend time with, but I've never been a fan of the whole concept -- the way I see it, men and women have certain parts that sort of make them "fit together" if you will, and given that marriage is one of the seven sacraments in Catholicism, it's a very special bond. To relinquish that special bond is to spit on one of the most holy unions that exists. Love is love, and I get that -- you are who you are and you love who you love and you can't help it. And if you're happy, I'm happy for you. But having the same legal rights are married couples is a tough one to compare, because you're comparing apples and oranges. You can be parents if you're gay, but only through adoption. It just physically isn't possible to "make" the baby yourself.

So it's a sticky situation whichever way you spin it. Forgive me if I butchered the perspective or offended anyone. I'm not looking to pick a fight or stick it to any one group. I'm just commentating through my thoughts.


  1. I think gays or straights should be allowed in the BOY scouts. It's not SRAIGHT or GAY scouts, it's BOY scouts.

    With that being said, there have been many predators that specifically go into the boy scouts just for that prey on boys. It's wrong, but it happens. I don't know if the same thing really happens with the Girl Scouts, I haven't looked into it.

    The world will be coming to a strange place soon enough, and it's just sad that a person can't be a person and not be judged. It really kind of sucks.

    It is another form of discrimination. Just my thoughts....

    AND.. as always, love reading what you have to write!!


    1. If it has happened with the girl scouts, I don't think it would be as big of a deal. I think girls are much more comfortable with the idea of lesbians. Boys who are gay are ridiculed and practically spat upon in society -- which is why it makes coming out so hard. But I feel like lesbians are much more generally accepted.

  2. I think a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would work for the BSA. If I were a parent, I would not be too comfortable with any discussion about a boy's sexual orientation in the Boy Scouts - the military is a different story since they are full-grown adults . That way you'd allow homosexuals to participate in the Boy Scouts as well.

    But you are right - I think the BSA does receive some public funding but for the most part they are private and they should be allowed to run their organization as they want to. One of the responses I've had to people outraged about the ban is asking if we should push the boy scouts to accept girls as well since they wouldn't be a sexist organization then.

    1. I agree -- the Boy Scouts is not the place for discussions or lectures on sexual orientation. In my experience the further you got in the scouting organization the more a militaristic feel was involved. I think it's quite common that people who are in scouts go on to do something in the military area.

      I think the only thing that gets around the point of a sexist organization is in fact the existence of the girl scouts. One would have had to have come before the other -- and so they needed both to be equal. Like I said, any way you spin it, it's just messy...

  3. As someone who has many ties to the BSA and has been a girl scout myself from the start, this is something that has just caught my attention. I'll probably end up doing some research later, but as of now there is one thing that I can't wrap my head around. Hypothetically (even though it's probably happened before)if a boy was entered into BSA as a cub scout by his parents, then continued his scouting journey into his teenage years, would he then be kicked out and ostracized from this sense of community he's grown up in just because of his sexual orientation? Who has the right, was given the power, to tell a child that no, you are no longer wanted because you're not attracted to girls like the rest of the 'men' in this organization? It's demeaning and nasty. I realize that it's a private group, but if it's world wide like girl scouts, there should be no discrimination such as this.

    1. Interesting I never thought of it that way. But if someone knew about the ban, they probably wouldn't be open about it if they were just realising that they were gay.. I mean, if it were me, and I wanted to stay a Boy Scout, I wouldn't.

  4. Right, so I'm not in US and don't know much (anything) about BSA... BUT... how young are you when starting as a scout...? Am I right in thinking you start as young as 7 - 8? Or even younger? Because if that is the case... would you know at that age what your sexual preference is? Or could you as a parent answer this question for your son? And further more, if you were to be a grown young man that is just realising his own sexuality... and yet would not want to leave the scout group...would you not try to hide who you are?

    As ever in society, nothing is as black and white as we would have liked... BSA as an organisation of course can set their own rules as they find appropriate, and whatever the decision - not everyone will be happy about it, that's just a fact of life.

    : )x

    1. First thing that comes in Cub Scouts... which goes up probably through age 12 or so. Then you have the option to continue on with Boy Scouts (starting again at the lowest rank) and moving on up through high school. So you're right, at that age, they probably wouldn't know.

      In the words of a wonderful band... "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need"


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