May 3, 2013

youth protection: it's not about gay people

This year, May is known as the month that the Boy Scouts of America will vote on whether to continue their discriminatory anti-gay policy or to soften their bigotry so they don't officially hate gay kids. (They'll still officially hate gay adults.)

Maybe hate is the wrong word. Maybe fear is better.

No, let's go with hate.

BSA surveyed their members to help guide them in this difficult decision. That survey shows that 51% of chartered councils have come out in favor of being as bigoted as possible. "Don't change the policy," they cry.

The reason so many of BSA's members and leaders feel this way is hard to pin down. A lot is made of potential membership deterioration should gays be let in. Then there are the in-depth analyses of changing attitudes, comparing surveys and demographics from three years ago to surveys today. But mostly it seems to stem from the "Judeo-Christian moral principles" of sexuality being reserved for a man and a woman in marriage. Basically, the religious segment within BSA believe that people shouldn't have sex if they're not married (and marriage is one man with one woman, but that's a different blog post).

BSA already acknowledges that since all scouts are minors, any sexual conduct is inappropriate and therefore forbidden. They wrote that down. It's in their FAQ.

But we also already have laws against adults engaging in sexual conduct with minors. It, too, is inappropriate and therefore forbidden. Why, then, do we need to exclude gay men and women from scouting? Does being gay make them worse at tying knots, planning a budget, building a campfire, carrying a backpack, administering first aid? Does being gay make them unable to teach, to coach, to lead? Apparently, many in the BSA organization think so. Fifty-one percent, to be precise.

This week, a local high school water polo coach was arrested for having sex with a teenage girl. Being heterosexual does not make a person trustworthy.

In the US, two out of five first marriages end in divorce. Being heterosexual does not make a person morally upstanding in that "traditional values" sense.

Out of ten randomly selected Boy Scouts child molestation cases, I found six of the ten were married. It's not reasonable to extrapolate that to the entirety of the population, of course. Presumably, these married men were heterosexual. Being married clearly does not make an adult safe in a position of authority over children.

BSA has put in place many good policies to protect children from predators. No one-on-one contact. Two deep leadership at all events. Regular training of all adult leaders. Many reasonable, smart precautions that protect both the child and the trustworthy adult. Not a single one of these policies requires a heterosexual orientation in order to comply. A homosexual person can follow all these rules as easily and as well as I can.

Being homosexual does not make a person dangerous to children. Being heterosexual does not make a person safe with children.

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