Gay Boy Scouts Deserve Gay Troop Leaders

For a mentor-driven organization, Boy Scouts of America sure doesn't know how to lead.

The Boy Scouts of America just created a new merit badge: Mixed Messaging.

The requirements are simple: Put out an historic announcement of liberation, and at the same time, continue a policy of prejudice. The Scouts did this in textbook fashion last week.

Though buried by the capture of the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, the BSA’s executive board unanimously recommended that gay boys be allowed to join the 103-year-old youth organization, and that gay adults continue to be excluded as troop leaders.

The board’s recommendation will be put to a vote next month in Texas at the annual meeting of the BSA’s 1,400-member National Council. If approved, the measure would take effect at the start of 2014.

You don’t need a compass to navigate this wilderness trail. Queer boys: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Queer men: pederasts.

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Scout’s honor.”

The BSA resolution states that no youth can be denied Scout-hood “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The ban on openly gay men, and women, would stay in place.

Partial bans are like partial-birth abortions: They’re ugly, and nobody wins. The BSA, which includes almost three million members between ages seven and 21, is doing a heinous disservice to its young scouts with this proposed policy, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The partial ban not only encourages fear and hatred of adult homosexuals, it creates self-loathing among young scouts who identify as gay, or who think they might be.

For a gay youngster in the Deep South, for example, an openly gay troop leader could be the only role model he’ll ever know. Where else will he learn the life skills he’ll need in a heteronormative world?

A heteronormative world like the Boys Scouts, say. Without living examples to negate the stereotypes, the BSA can continue to imply that gay scoutmasters are sexual predators who cannot be trusted around children. (Statistically, that’s probably more true of priests.)

The scoutmaster-as-pederast myth could lead to internalized homophobia—or worse—for gay scouts. You’re welcome to join a troop, the BSA tells them, but once you’re grown and want to lead a troop of your own, beat it. We won’t let you be around kids.

Seen through a less pessimistic—read “gentile”—lens, perhaps the proposed ban represents the Boy Scouts’ baby steps toward a revolution in diversity. Just eight months ago, you may recall, the BSA had re-affirmed its embargo on “open or avowed homosexuals.”

With the country’s cultural tide inexorably heading toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, maybe the Boy Scouts realize they’re on the wrong side of history. The real test will be in how long it takes for gay scoutmasters to be invited back to the bonfire.

Let no Scout be left behind, man or child. That is real honor.