Do Boy Scouts Need Protection From LGBT Leaders?

Photo caption: The author around the time he joined the Boy Scouts.

Good news! The Boy Scouts just voted to allow LGBT adults to serve as Scout leaders. (Kind of.)

For decades, LGBT adults were not allowed to be leaders with the Scouts. From now on, it's going to be up to local chapters to decide whether or not they want to discriminate. That's not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.

But why did the boy scouts ban LGBTs adults in the first place? Well in part, it's because of pressure from people like Tony Perkins. "Why would I let a man who was attracted to other males go camping with my boys?" he asked on CNN during a debate about LGBT membership.

Tony is the president of the hate group Family Research Council. For years, FRC and groups like it have been pressuring the boy scouts to keep out queer people, for reasons that were both flimsy and incredibly offensive.

The Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg went even further: "they have the right to protect their children from being exposed to sexual abuse by men who might be attracted to other males."

And the American Family Association's Peter Fischer truly went off the deep end: "there is a high degree of correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia."

That would be a valid reason to bar LGBTs if it was true. But it's not. Not even a little. And don't take my word for it, here's the American Psychological Association: "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children." Also, an exhaustive study by Dr. Gregory Herek at UC Davis indicates "research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children." Even a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops indicated "we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and ... abuse."

In other words, there's no basis for anti-gay groups to pressure the scouts with this lie that LGBTs are a threat. But pressure groups like the FRC and AFA are still pushing for a policy that divides people, pitting members against each other for no reason.

Now, I was a Boy Scout. I liked being a Boy Scout. The Boy Scouts promote wonderful values, among them being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. I'm not sure why thrifty comes before brave, but I guess a penny saved is a penny earned.

In addition to being about carving soap and holding jamborees, the Boy Scouts exist to instill values that help us all live together in a society. All of those values are about strengthening our connections, not dividing us. They represent us at our best. Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer and Peter Sprigg -- they all claim to have the best interests of the kids at heart, but what they're doing is completely inconsistent with values that seek to bring us together.

To Tony Perkins, nothing's more dangerous to a child than a queer role model. To him, an adult who demonstrates that LGBT people are decent and worthy of respect is something that kids need to be protected from. But imagine what those role models mean to queer kids. I didn't know I was gay when I was a little 7-year-old Boy Scout. I just knew I was different. And nothing would have been more important to me than to know that I wasn't alone. And when I got a little older, to have seen that people like me aren't a threat, and are just as trustworthy and loyal and helpful as anyone else.

Now, the Boy Scouts are a private group, and as I've pointed out in a lot of my videos, they're free to decide who can be a member. And in fact, individual chapters are still allowed to deny access to LGBT leaders. Nondiscrimination laws don't apply here like they do for public facilities and businesses. In other words, this is a perfect example of how, despite what the other side says, private and religious organizations are not under attack, and are not being forced to admit members or serve people they don't want to. This membership change only happened because of a vote within the organization, not because of bullying or government interference. An overwhelming majority -- seventy-nine percent of the board -- voted to end the ban.

And you know why? Because the flimsy arguments offered by anti-gay groups with an axe to grind just couldn't stand up. That ban was based on misinformation at best, and bigotry at worst. And those are two values that have no place in the Boy Scouts, and for that matter, anywhere else.

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