If you’ve been following our coverage of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) – both the dust up over the city trying to evict the local chapter over its antiquated, anti-gay policy – and the ongoing discrimination being faced by scouts and leaders around the country (like the lesbian mom who was fired, the scouts who have been denied Eagle awards and the companies that have pulled funding), you know where we stand on the issue. Not only do the scouts have to go (as in leave the local chapter’s city-owned building near Logan Square), but they also need to rethink the way they deal with issues of sexual orientation and identity for the sake of children everywhere.
As if we need more of a reason to challenge the gay ban, it’s been discovered just this week that the BSA, despite all of the yammering about how gay scouts and leaders would somehow put kids in danger, it turns out the oh-so-straight scouts are lousy with molesters! The news comes from nearly a decade ‘s worth of confidential “perversion files” that the BSA has collected and never before made public. And guess what? The anti-gay policy has done nothing to prevent widespread sex abuse allegations because most experts know that sexual orientation has nothing to do with pedophilia.
But despite these persisting assertions, the BSA’s reality mirrors that of other homophobic, male-dominated organizations – like the Catholic Church and even Penn State – that seem to care a lot more about their reputations than the safety of young people.
Guys like Jerry Sandusky (married with kids) thrive in these boy’s clubs where other guys tend to look the other way for the sake of whatever success is at stake – winning the game, preserving a legacy and even maintaining this old boy’s club line of thinking. Boys will be boys? Not acceptable. And it’s creating hostile environments where kids are put at risk because these groups are too busy using anti-gay rhetoric to dignify a truly outdated and unsubstantiated line of thinking.
And now we find that there isn’t much difference between the church’s scandal and the scouts. Both organizations have “policed” abuse – and failed miserably at it. Both organizations espouse a deeply homophobic view of the LGBT community – and it’s come back to haunt them. And both organizations have, in the process, harbored child molesters while pointing fingers and banned gay men and women – who have been nothing if not open and honest – from serving.
And yet, the Boy Scouts remain adamant about not permitting gay scouts and leaders, even though almost a million people have signed a petition saying they oppose the ban, major donors like Intel have pulled all funding, Fortune 500 CEOs have challenged the policy publicly, and hundreds of Eagle Scouts have returned their medals in protest.
What will it take before the BSA realizes that it’s not gay scouts or leaders who would destroy their organization, but rather, the naive thinking that seeks to blame all the wrong people for what’s going on behind closed doors – while the scandals persist?