The BSA is under considerable pressure:
Are the concerns of the BSA misdirected?
A personal note from the Webmaster: Bias alert.
The BSA must be continuously on guard against adult troop leaders who are sexually attracted to children and who may act on these feelings by sexually molesting youth members.
I suspect that because of the BSA's long association with conservative faith groups, the BSA has accepted some of the latter's beliefs which have been shown to lack invalidity. One common belief is that homosexuality can be caught like a virus -- that one gay youth can infect others with homosexuality. Many also believe that adults with a homosexual orientation are at extremely high risk of sexually molesting children. And so, the BSA has committed enormous energy to detecting and expelling youth and adult members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
My belief is that homosexuality is not the direct problem. Rather, it is
Sometimes the meaning of the term "pedophelia" is expanded to to include all of the above.
Sometime pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles act on their feelings of sexual attraction and are thus a direct danger to youth members of the BSA. In most cases they probably do not act on their feelings of attraction. Most pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles have a heterosexual orientation. That is, they may also have feelings of sexual attraction to other adults of the opposite sex. Rarely they are asexual and have no such strong feelings. Rarely they are homosexuals and are also attracted to other adults of the same sex.
By committing massive energy towards weeding out homosexuals in their ranks, the BSA are probably overloooking the majority of pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles, and leaving their youth membership in danger of molestation.
Consequences of the BSA policy:
Unfortunately, their policy towards gay youth can have life or death consequences to individual scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America's web site reported that there were about 2.84 million youth members in the BSA. 5 Assuming that 5% of scouts are homosexual and 5% are bisexual, this means that there were as many as 280,000 gay or bisexual youth members in the organization. Most of them are probably not yet aware of their sexual orientation. They are being taught by the BSA that they must by necessity keep their sexual orientation secret whenever it becomes clear to them. From the BSA "Position statement on homosexuality and the BSA," those who are aware that they are gay are regarded as incapable of being morally straight or clean in word and deed no matter what their behavior is. Those who are perhaps most in need of self worth are considered rejects. Many internalize this oppression and consider themselves as disordered rejects.
Many teen gays recognize their homosexual orientation and understand that the only way in which they can survive is to stay deep in "the closet."
If the BSA were more accepting of gays, then they might feel safe enough in the troop to come out at least to the scout master. But under the previous BSA policies, that was not an option. Some gays become very depressed; some of them develop suicidal ideation; some of them complete suicides. The BSA must be aware of this dynamic. But to maintain their concept of personal and organization purity, they elected to abandoned those scouts who are perhaps in the greatest need of acceptance. The trail of coffins lengthens daily.
During 2013-MAY, the BSA made a major step forward in reducing its level of discrimination and giving support to its gay youth. They changed their policy and now allow gay youth to join Scouting.
Another personal note from the Webmaster: Bias alert.
I recall an incident in my city's school system back in the 1980's. I attended a meeting of the school board as a representative from the the local distress/suicide prevention hotline. The topic was human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. From the early questions asked, it was obvious that many on the board viewed gays as an undesirable outside influence trying to gain access to the schools. As the presentations continued, members of the board started to realize that what were really being discussed were very vulnerable LGBT students who were already in the classrooms, lacking support. and hurting. As the meeting progressed, most of he board members switched their thinking towards what they could do to help LGB students already in the classrooms.
I hope that the Boy Scouts of America national executive board, its volunteer adult leaders, etc. are all able to make a similar transition. However, I expect that some units and their leaders who are sponsored by conservative faith groups will wish to continue discrimination against gays, will sever their connection with the BSA and join or organize a more homophobic group.
Evidence of some change within the BSA national body:
Citizen, a program of the Fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family has stated:
One one hand, the BSA taking direct action to maintain its policy of discrimination against gays and non-religious members. For example:
However, the national body appears to be ignoring decisions that have been quietly reached between individual councils and their United Way organizations. Citizen writes that:
The national body seems to have adopted a policy similar to the military's old "don't ask, don't tell" rule. A news release issued in the year 2000 states that the organization "makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person." 3
In late 2013-January, faced with gradually declining membership and the termination of contributions from many corporate sources, the BSA revisited their policies of discrimination and exclusion. Initially, they considered a form of local option whereby individual troops would be able allow gays to join. More details. By 2013-APR, as a result of intensive study and surveys, they developed a new policy and are recommending that youths with a homosexual or bisexual orientation be tolerated in the organization, even as adult BSA leaders who have a homosexual orientation are banned, and all members who do not believe in a God are also banned. More details.
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