By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 18 2012 3:23 PM ET
A newly posted database shows in disturbing detail how the Boy Scouts of America has regularly equated gay people with pedophiles — a false equivalence sometimes made by those that argue gays are rightly barred from the group.
The so-called "Perversion Files" were made public by Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff, who used the BSA's confidential "Ineligible Volunteers" list to track down those scoutmasters accused of sexually assaulting minors and bring them to justice in court.
According to a statement issued to The Seattle Times, the BSA believed that the confidential list was the best way to protect Scouts from sexual abuse, since an accused volunteer couldn't simply move on to another troop after allegations of abuse.
But among more than 1,200 names of those accused of pedophilia, the "Perversion Files" also list several Scout volunteers who were barred solely for being gay, not for sexually assaulting children. The BSA recently reaffirmed its ban on openly gay Scouts and volunteers, saying the ban was "absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts."
That the list makes no distinction between pedophiles and volunteers declared ineligible solely because of their sexual orientation shows the Scouts perpetuated the stereotype that gay people are compulsive pedophiles. That assertion is plainly false, but it hasn't stopped conservative pundits from also feeding the lie as reason to back a gay ban in Scouting. In July, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told a caller to his radio show who had been abused by a scoutmaster that, "You make us understand why the Boy Scouts made a decision that at least I think was the right one."
The spreadsheet, which lists the date and location of offense, name and troop number of the accused, and comments surrounding the accusation, lists several volunteers declared ineligible after they "Confessed to [a] gay lifestyle." One such case, from 1985 in New York, blacklists a volunteer who was "Jailed for larceny. Confessed to gay lifestyle."
Another volunteer was added to the list in 1989, and the only comment about his suspension reads "Originally suspended in 1960 due to homosexuality."
In 1991 a Massachusetts volunteer was blacklisted with a simple, two-word reason: "Confessed homosexual."
A Maryland volunteer in 1983 was disavowed after he was "accused of homosexual acts."
While some of the instances of assault occurred between people of the same sex, several male volunteers were convicted of assault against women and girls, according to the document.
According to another attorney who used the list to prosecute criminal pedophiles, making the names public allows victims to discover whether their assailant was ever reprimanded. "The stories in those files are real little boys and real stories of abuse," Oregon attorney Kelly Clark told The Seattle Times. "And when the public sees these stories in black and white, I think the level of understanding and frustration about sexual abuse in Scouting is going to be significantly elevated."