3 reasons BSA shouldn’t cave in

The following post is a transcript of a weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations:

The Boy Scouts of America were scheduled this week to decide whether or not to lift its long-standing ban on accepting homosexual Scout leaders in local troops. [The decision has now been delayed.] The push to lift the ban comes from two members of its national board who both support homosexual Scout leaders but worry more about how progressive-minded corporations extort BSA over its no-gay policy. These corporations threaten to quit donating to BSA until the ban is lifted.

There are no serious political threats to BSA driving this renewed debate. Nobody beyond homosexual activists and those two BSA board members are pushing the issue. There’s no legal threat against BSA – in 2000, the United States Supreme Court settled the issue: BSA does not have to accept homosexual Scout leaders if it doesn’t want to.

There are at least three good reasons why BSA should not cave to the pressure of homosexual activists.

First, as the United States Supreme Court determined 12 years ago, the Boy Scouts of America have a fundamental First Amendment right of “expressive association.” The court ruled, “Implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment is a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious and cultural ends.” It added, “This right is crucial in preventing the majority from imposing its views on groups that would rather express other, perhaps unpopular, ideas.”

The New Jersey appellate court, whose decision the Supreme Court overturned, had argued that while BSA had a right to promote moral values, including sexual chastity before marriage and marriage itself, between a man and a woman, allowing a homosexual Scoutmaster into its ranks was no threat to those values. In other words, BSA could stand for something, it just wasn’t permitted to stand against something. It could support moral values; it just wasn’t permitted to oppose homosexuality. Indeed, that’s the whole point for homosexual activists: For them, homosexuality is moral. The Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court and ruled in favor of BSA.

Second, BSA argues that homosexuality goes against its stated values of being “clean” and “morally straight.” On the other hand, homosexual activists invoke what they like to call the standard of “otherwise qualified.” It goes like this: If a homosexual is otherwise qualified to hold a certain position, such as a Scoutmaster, his homosexuality shouldn’t be a factor in that consideration. The problem with that argument is that as long as homosexuality effectively defines a person’s identity – and it does for homosexual activists; they call it being “gay” – there is no such factor as “otherwise” qualified. Everyone must factor that person’s homosexuality into any relationship for the very reason that homosexuals won’t have it any other way.

Lastly, there’s the safety and well-being of Scouters. Let’s call it the Sandusky factor, named after former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Setting aside the debate over whether or not homosexuals disproportionately abuse teenagers, there is one unavoidable reality: Males driven to have sex with males should not be placed in intimate positions of authority over other males. Sandusky swears he’s not a homosexual even though he had homosexual relations with teenage boys. So self-identifying as a homosexual isn’t really the point, is it? We should be far more protective of young Scouts than we are concerned about the emotional sensitivities of adults. Scouting is not about the adults, it’s about the kids.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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  • Dsnarr

    So when a 13 year old boy confesses to being gay, and is trying to find his place in this world, do you think the boy scouts should disinvite him from their events? In troops with religious affiliations, such as the LDS troop I was a part of, should they explicitly tell the boys that they are still invited to church events as long as they are not scouting events, or should they be disinvited altogether?

    • Paul Mero

       When that boy “confesses to being gay” what exactly is he confessing to? Is he confessing to being something (just thoughts) or doing something?

      Both the BSA and LDS Church are private organizations and set what policies they want to. If I were the sole decision maker for those two organization, I’m not sure what I’d do…probably take each individual case as they come.

      • Dsnarr

        I disagree that one’s sexual orientation can be accurately reduced to “just thoughts”. Prior to having your first girlfriend, I would imagine that you would agree that your sexual orientation consisted of more than thoughts.

        Regardless of behavior, the current policy of the boy scouts is that gay-identified teens cannot take part. I find it odd that you’d make a whole post about the subject, saying that it’s about the kids, while not even having an opinion on whether or not gay-identified teens should be allowed to participate. Currently, the case-by-case scenario is not the status quo, so are you advocating that the BSA reform their policy to allow individual troops to make case-by-case decisions on the matter?

        Nobody is arguing that a private organization doesn’t have the right to ban gay kids. They could also ban black kids if they wanted, as long as they weren’t receiving public funds.  Those of us on our side of the issue are ASKING the BSA to do the right thing, in the best interest of all kids – the gay kids, and the straight kids who are learning by example how to treat people that are different than them.  

        • Paul Mero

           You guys have to get your “sexual orientation” definitions straight (no pun intended). Is “gay” feelings and attractions or is it behavior? Seems everyone today argues it’s the former; I argue it’s the latter (for what it’s worth). Is it both?

          For the sake of law and policy it only can be behavior.

          The few kids struggling with homosexuality who also would like to be a Boy Scout are inconvenienced, for sure, but not handicapped…Boy Scouts aren’t the only way for a young man to grow up with the values promoted by BSA.

          • Dsnarr

            Love and sexuality are very complex, and can be difficult to understand, even more difficult to explain to those who seem to view it as black and white.

            The drive to love, to form a family, to share your life with somebody, and also to physically express your love combine with other factors to create a core and fundamental part of one’s identity. Some call that a sexual orientation. It’s much more than some fleeting thoughts. It’s much more than a physical behavior. Some heterosexual people have always taken their sexual orientation for granted, and it’s such an innate part of themselves that they’ve never thought about it critically. This is a luxury that LGBT people do not have. 

            Regardless, the BSA does not define sexual orientation in terms of behavior. If an awkward gay teenager who’s never even held another boy’s hand, yet decides that he wants to honestly discuss his sexuality with others, he would currently be kicked out of the Boy Scouts. I was a boy scout. I learned and grew substantially as a scout. If I had been kicked out of my scout troop, and reminded every sunday during Deacon’s quorum that the rest of the kids were able to participate in a way that I wasn’t, it would have been much more than an inconvenience. That is an institutionalization of the same bullying gay kids are constantly subjected to, and it’s absolutely shameful. 

          • wilbur

            dsnarr, this is the most eloquent, concise, and beautiful statement I have ever read. I would just add to Mr. Mero and BSA: dsnarr can’t change your mind. Only you can change your mind. In just the last very few years, tens of millions of Americans have managed changed theirs, and millions more do each day. Try not to be the last.

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