The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reconsiders ban on gay youths
Part 1: "Trail Life USA" a pro-Christian/
anti-gay/anti-transgender competitor to the BSA
Background about youth organizations, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) members:
On 2013-MAY-23, the main U.S. youth organization for boys -- the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) -- decided to relax their long-standing discrimination against gay and bisexual youth, They changed their policy to allow youth who have a homosexual and bisexual orientation to join the BSA, to openly reveal their sexual orientation, and remain in the organization as members until their 18th birthday, when they would then be expelled or expected to quit. Sexual behavior between scouts remains forbidden. Adult members with a homosexual orientation continue to be excluded as members.
Many conservative Christians disagreed with the BSA decision which they believed was "politically correct" and too soft on gays and bisexuals. They saw the need for a parallel organization that was conservative Christian, anti-gay, anti-transgender, and anti-Atheist where gay and bisexual youths could join and stay as long as they remained deeply in the "closet" -- by keeping their sexual orientation totally secret.
Unfortunately, this "closet" is a death trap for some youths. Maintaining secrecy concerning their sexual orientation, continually worrying that their families, fellow students, members in their church congregation, and in youth organizations may find out about their sexual orientation is very difficult. It places great stress on gay and bisexual youth who are required to remain in the "closet." This is a rational fear because approximately 40% of the youth homeless in the U.S. are LGBT and have either been "kicked to the curb" by their parents or have found it impossible to remain at home because of their family's reaction to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A meta-study by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center estimated that between 30% and 40% of LGBT youth attempt suicide. 1 Fortunately, relatively few end their lives. A study by the Family Acceptance Project showed that that "parental acceptance, and even neutrality, with regard to a child's sexual orientation" can greatly reduce the attempted suicide rate among religious minorities. 2 It would seem reasonable that acceptance by a youth group like the BSA would also reduce suicide attempts, while a youth group that forces gay and lesbian youth to remain deeply in the closet would likely contribute to maintaining the high suicide attempt rate, or to even increase it. Thus, youth group's policies concerning LGBT members probably have significant life and death consequences to some gay and bisexual youth.
About Trail Life USA:
John Stemberger is an attorney in Orlando, FL, and the president of the Florida Family Policy Council -- a largely conservative Christian pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage group. He founded the OnMyHonor.net movement, which subsequently became "Trail Life USA" (TLU). Supporters of TLU hopes that it will eventually become the leading character-building organization for youth in America. Stemberger has became the Chair of TLU's board.
A You Tube video describing the history of Trail Life USA (13.4 minutes):
A You Tube video introducing Trail Life USA (1.0 minute):
Their web site describes TLU as a
"... Christian adventure, character, and leadership movement for young men. ... Living the Trail Life is a journey established on timeless values derived from the Bible." 5
Thankfully, Trail Life is selective in the values that they derive from the Bible. They ignore passages from the Bible that regulate human slavery, stoning non-virgin brides to death, murdering adherents of other religions, executing people who pick up wood on Saturdays in order to keep their family warm, and other biblical teachings considered profoundly immoral by today's theologians.
Their vision is to be:
"... the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.
The current main group for young men in the U.S. is the Boy Scouts of America. Apparently, they hope that the TLU will eventually exceed the Boy Scouts in membership.
Trail Life's mission is:
"... to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.
The TLU office is located in Orlando, FL. Their email address is email@example.com. They successfully aimed for the TLU to be in full operation by 2014-JAN-01.
Restrictions on membership:
- GENDER: The web site of Trail Life USA contains a provisional membership page 6 which states that youth members must be "biologically male." This was apparently specified to exclude female-to-male transgender youths. Their statement appears to reflect a widespread belief that every person fits neatly into into one of two classifications: either male or female.
Unfortunately, this is not an accurate reflection of reality. That is because individuals have been defined as either male or female according to one of three criteria -- or some combination of these criteria:
- The design of their genitalia: Some children are born with ambiguous genitalia which do not resemble either the typical male or female design. They are referred to as intersexuals.
- Their sex chromosomes: In most cases, the DNA of males have XY sexual chromosomes while females have XX chromosomes in every cell of their body. But, again there are some exceptions. According to the 8wayrun web site:
"... most Y chromosomes have a specific gene which triggers the development of testes. However, mutations in these chromosomes mean that sometimes, the Y chromosome might contain no such gene (leading to an XY female), or an X chromosome might contain said gene (resulting in an XX male). In practice, most people can’t be 100% sure what their chromosomes are, because they’re usually only tested if a chromosome related disorder is suspected as they mature." 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Suicide risk and prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth," Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2008, at: http://www.sprc.org/library/SPRC_LGBT_Youth.pdf This is a PDF file.
- Joseph Shapiro, "Study: Tolerance Can Lower Gay Kids' Suicide Risk," National Public Radio, 2008-DEC-29, at: http://www.npr.org/
- "The History of Trail Life USA," You Tube, at: http://youtu.be/
- "Introducing Trail Life USA," You Tube, at: http://youtu.be/
- "Ready for adventure?...," Trail Life USA, at: http://www.traillifeusa.com/
- "Proposed Membership Standards for Trail Life USA," Trail Life USA, at: http://www.traillifeusa.com/
- "MntT777," " 'Biologically male/female- - an outdated (and harmful) notion," 8Wayrun, 2012-SEP-04, at: http://8wayrun.com/
Copyright © 2013 & 2014by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Original posting: 2013-SEP-13
Latest updated: 2014-JAN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson