The other day, my ex-wife sent me an e-mail with the subject line “Please reconsider” and a link to this article about how the Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its ban on homosexuals. She then wrote this post, outlining in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want her sons to have anything to do with an organization that is so overtly bigoted.
I, however, am struggling with a profound ambivalence about it. Magda’s point is perfectly understandable from the outside. I feel the same way about Chick-Fil-A, which I’ll never patronize because they proudly endorse 1) gay-bashing, and 2) misspelling. But Scouting is different. It’s been a big part of my family for generations. And because my Scouting experience was integral to my boyhood and remains very special to me, it’s hard to process the BSA’s craven, unenlightened prejudice with emotionless perspective.
All of which finds me groping to defend the indefensible. Penn State alumni, I feel your pain.
Actually, I don’t at all. And that’s an important point, if you support the BSA’s decision because you fear what can now be called the Sandusky Effect, or the idea that homosexuality is a gateway to pedophilia. From what I’ve read, equating these two is like equating glaucoma and green eyes: One is a disease, and one is a state of being. And the two are not as related as you might think:
“The distinction between a victim’s gender and a perpetrator’s sexual orientation is important because many child molesters don’t really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children boys, girls, or children of both sexes.”
And even if man-boy pedophilia is a major concern, why oust a lesbian?
No, this is straight-up homophobia, funded by people who want the world to be different than it is. And the worst part about all this nonsense for me is that none of it trickles down to our weekly den meetings. This year alone, my sons have learned first aid, swimming, knife skills, meal preparation, outdoorsmanship, as well as the importance of community and public service. The “Gays Need Not Apply” credo hasn’t come up.
Maybe it should. This is clearly something Magda and I should talk about, because ultimately, I want my sons to have a say in whether they leave Scouting. My 10-year-old is old enough to understand what it means to be gay, and to exclude someone merely for being different. If he wants out because of that (or because he’s just not enjoying it anymore), I’m not going to force him to stay. But my 7-year-old loves Scouting, and if he still wants to be a Wolf next year, I’ll go ahead and write that dues check, while choking back the bile in my mouth.
I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and fight. Because just as homophobic hate-mongers will eventually die out, gays will one day have universal rights. It’s inevitable, as is the end of this ban. Resistance to the ban is considerable, and growing. A board member is committed to overturning it. Jennifer Tyrrell is fighting back.
I just hope it happens before the steady decline in membership reaches a tipping point, and by the time the BSA comes to its senses, there’s nothing left to save.
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