Today, the Boy Scouts of America will vote on whether or not to allow openly gay scouts. I hope they vote yes.
I hope they vote yes because no matter what the vote, there will be gay scouts, and those scouts should have the peace of mind that all other scouts do. Being gay doesn’t preclude being a child, being a male, or being interested in the various experiences open to Boy Scouts. Being gay doesn’t make you a threat or a liability. Being gay doesn’t make you a better or worse person, a less or more moral person, or have anything to do with how well you tie knots, set up tents, or start fires. It has nothing to do with the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
It has nothing to do with the Boy Scout Pledge.
On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God, and my country, and to obey the Scout law; to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, and mentally awake, and morally straight.
I suppose you could argue about “duty to God” and “morally straight”, but again, I would tell you that being gay has nothing to do with your morals–it has to do with your sexual preference, and it is just as possible to lack morals and be as hetero as they come.
And anyway, the scouting handbook defines that morality segement of the oath as meaning that a scout should: “be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”
What that says to me is that there shouldn’t be any open Frat Boys in the scouts.
So with that out of the way, here’s why I really hope the organization votes to allow gay scouts to be open: because no one should have to hide who they are, least of all a kid. If you’re gay, you’re gay and that’s fine. It shouldn’t, and doesn’t matter.
“But, Lane, what if some gay kid tries to hit on my son?” You teach your son to turn down advances politely and respectfully. You teach your son to be flattered that someone thought he was attractive and engaging, and to feel comfortable saying, “Thank you, but I don’t share a similar interest in you.” You teach your son that being liked by a boy is no reflection of weakness or reason to fear. Being liked by anyone is a compliment.
“But, Lane, what if my kid turns gay?” Well, what if he does? I’m not going to get into the Nature vs. Nurture, Chance or Choice argument. I’m just going to ask you this, “Would you love your kid any less? Would you think your kid was damaged? Would you think your child had lost value?” And if your answer is yes, then you are the one with the problem, not your gay son.
“But, Lane, what if my kid is raped?” Then you go after the rapist with a Louisville slugger. Rape has as much to do with being gay, as rape has to do with being straight.
Listen, I think the Boy Scouts stand for something good: Teaching boys to be self-sufficient and considerate, contributing members of society. I know a couple of scoutmasters and think the world of them (and they live in other states, which is too bad because I would let Thor into their packs.) I think all boys should be allowed to take part in that. Gay boys need to know to help old ladies across the street and make tourniquets, too. It’s not like Granny is going to slap Jim’s hand away because he’s got a crush on Joe. If you need Jim to apply direct pressure, it’s not going to matter that he wants to take Hank to the prom.
I won’t let my child be a Boy Scout because I am afraid of the pedophiles who are attracted to groups like that. I do think that having a ban on gay scoutmasters fosters an atmosphere where pedophiles can prey on boys because the boys think they are in a “safe” sexual environment, and then end up victimized and traumatized, and unable to trust or ask for help because everyone knows Mr. Frank is a married man with kids, and married men never hurt little boys.
I’d prefer an openly gay scoutmaster who was genuinely interested in my son’s well being, over a straight jackass any time. Dumbledore over Voldemort, y’all.
We all just need to be up front about who we are. Lay out the cards, play our hands, and enjoy each other for qualities other than how we like to go bump in the night. I’m straight, so I live in that privilege. It’s time that privilege was extended to everyone else.
(I always feel I need to add this caveat, lest you think I’m down with NAMBLA: I am 100% okay with whatever consenting adults consent to do with other consenting adults. I am not okay with adults preying on children, the mentally disabled, the elderly, the chemically incapacitated, or animals. If it can’t say yes within legal age limits and a reasonable understanding of what yes means, you shouldn’t be trying to nuzzle up on it.)