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Drew Courtney

Views & Voices

Bad news for the Right: There already are gays in the Boy Scouts

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

As the Boy Scouts of America move towards finally loosening their organizational policy of forbidding openly gay scouts and leaders, Religious Right activists have been busy trying to top each other with their usual outraged hyperbole.

Despite the fact that the national board of the Scouts may well resort to half measures by allowing individual troops to decide whether or not to continue discriminating against gay people, the right is enraged by the possibility of any change at all.

Rick Santorum insists that if gay people are allowed to participate in scouting, it will lead to the death of the organization and that the national board of the Scouts will have “its fingerprints on the murder weapon.”

Ryan Andresen of Moraga, Calif., who had been in the Boy Scouts since he was 6, was told he would not become an Eagle Scout because of his sexual orientation.

Organizations like Liberty Counsel claimed that any change in policy will undermine BSA’s “religious liberty and First Amendment rights.” Rick Perry says the Scouts are under attack from the “forces of secularism.” Anti-gay activist Matt Barber insists that Satan himself is behind the move.

For me at least, after years of debate, it’s utterly fitting that the last people fighting to keep anti-gay discrimination are the people least in touch with reality.

That’s because, in addition to being deeply offensive, BSA’s policy has always struck me as profoundly stupid. Maybe it’s just my own experience, but who did they think was joining the Scouts? In my troop, at least, it wasn’t just the “normal” kids. It was those of us who were a little… off. A little too awkward. A little too hyper. A little too helpful. A little too queer. In short, it was the kind of kid who grows up to be interesting, committed, successful and, none too rarely, gay.

To my mind, that’s not an accident, that’s the essence of scouting. Frankly, just about all of us fit into at least one of those categories when we’re 14 years old. The genius of the Boy Scouts is that despite the awkwardness and the acne, teenage boys are looking for values to adopt as their own, and Scouting provides them with a set of principles that will serve them well no matter where their lives take them.

Whether you’re wearing weird glasses or waaay too into seeing what happens when you put a Bic lighter in a campfire (both demographics well represented in scouting and the male teenage population at large), Boy Scouting can be an outlet and a path forward.

That’s not just why BSA should fix its policy, it’s why I’m confident that BSA will fix its policy, whether that happens this week or not.

Regardless of its history of discrimination, it turns out that Scouting has equipped a growing cadre of gay men with the integrity to stand up for equality, and equipped our straight brothers with the loyalty to take a vocal role in the fight.

If the campaign to reform the Boy Scouts is any indication, scouting still has a legacy it can be proud of — activists willing to challenge the injustice and defend the values they believe in — and I suspect it has a long and productive future as well.

Allowing gay people into scouting won’t be the end of the organization by a long shot; gays have been there all along. The only thing that we’ll be getting rid of is an unjust policy that has survived long beyond its time. And when that finally happens, it’s clear that the Boy Scouts’ policy of discrimination will have been dismantled in no small part by scouts themselves demanding that the organization live up to the values it has taught for so long.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. Being Gay is not co

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:02pm
  2. sorry. contagious and it doesn’t mean your a pedophile! People get over yourselves. We are just everyday people. We love the same as you and make commitments the same as you.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:04pm
  3. Gays in the boy scouts? No!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:07pm
  4. Huh? What? You mean there have been gay people in the Boy Scouts all this time? Why was I not informed of this?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:16pm
  5. i was in cubscouts, and guess what i’m gay

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:20pm
  6. Just like they have gays in EVERY church in AMERICA

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:35pm
  7. We’re EVERYWHERE !! HAHAHAHA !!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:40pm
  8. Some of these politicians really need to get their shit together …. gay people (like myself ) exist

    Get the hell over it .

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:33pm
  9. and we are not going anywhere! deal with it idiots

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 2:45pm
  10. And drug users and they dont care, our local joey scout leader is the biggest pot head in town, she also is a stalker who attacks her victims children by spitting on them…..yet nothing is ever done about her….shame

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:33pm
  11. i am gay and was in boyscouts….and in my opinion, boyscouts is one of the gayest programs i’ve ever done LOL

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:43pm
  12. search them out and kick them out

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:50pm
  13. I’m sorry but WTF does Christian Values have to do with being a Boyscout? Can someone please tell me because I see no similarly with the two.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:22pm
  14. Scouts Canada has openly accepted LGBTQ youth for years!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:23pm
  15. Bad news? i don’t see any bad news in that?… o-o

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:25pm
  16. I’m sorry but WTF does Christian Values have to do with being a Boyscout? Can someone please tell me because I see no similarly with the two.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:27pm
  17. When THEY talk about “CHRISTian values” they’re really talking about THEIR values, because I am Gay, and Christian and the majority of the group at my church is gay, bi or questioning, the pastor is gay, openly, and we are, I think, more “CHRISTian” than some of these extremist, right-wing HATERS!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:28pm
  18. The Boy Scouts of America is literally a secular organization. It is NOT and has never been a Christian organization. Churches do NOT have to have Boy Scouts.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:33pm
  19. God is love, more than anything. If you happen to share that love with someone of the same sex, who cares? But you shouldn’t bash these people who call themselves Christians. It makes you just as bad as them. Flaunt the love and acceptance that they haven’t yet found.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:36pm
  20. gays are everywhere, that’s not new news to me. honestly i think more groups should be open to lgbt people. i’m not lgbt but i think their opinions are just as important in matters like this one, if not more important. i have a gay and a lesbian friend and I never had a problem with either of them being the way they are. my rights are their rights and they deserve to be heard.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:42pm
  21. Even though I come from a strong Christian background & am very devoted to my faith, I also have some really close friends that are gay & I never had a problem with it. They told me after I had already developed a close friendship with them & I told them that they’re still some of the coolest people that I’ve ever met & their sexual orientation doesn’t change how much I love them. I keep in mind that just because the bible says that being gay is wrong doesn’t make hatred or prejudice right either.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:13pm