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Op-ed: It's About Time the Boy Scouts Rejected Dangerous Lies About Gay Men

Op-ed: It's About Time the Boy Scouts Rejected Dangerous Lies About Gay Men


Finally, a group that supplies pocketknives to young boys has stopped claiming that LGBT people are dangerous.

When I joined the Boy Scouts in second grade, it wasn't long before I was supplied with my very own Boy Scout knife, which was pretty much the coolest thing a 7-year-old could possibly receive. My parents, wisely, quickly assumed custody of the knife and only let me wield it under careful supervision, correctly suspecting that perhaps supplying young boys with retractable blades is not exactly the safest idea.

But until this week, according to the Boy Scouts of America, the group's young members faced an even more dire threat: openly queer adults in positions of authority.

The organization just voted to allow local chapters to decide whether they want to discriminate against LGBT adults as volunteers or employees. That means that many places will still ban them -- for example, if a lesbian den mother moved from Washington to Utah (where the Mormon Church is considering pulling its support from the BSA entirely), she might suddenly find herself unwelcome to volunteer at her child's events. But at least this decision is a step in the right direction.

Why did it take the Scouts so long to dismantle the ridiculous ban? In part, we can thank outside pressure groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, both of which have been using the Boy Scouts to push lies about the supposed dangers of LGBT people for years. Both right-wing organizations also happen to have been designated as anti-LGBT hate groups by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Why would I let a man who was attracted to other males go camping with my boys?" asked FRC president Tony Perkins. His co-conspirator Peter Sprigg says of parents, "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 AFA's Bryan Fischer claims "there is a high degree of correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia."

There's just one problem: These are all lies. Note the weaselly words these pundits use: They always say "males" instead of "men." That's because the truth is that homosexual people are no more likely to be attracted to children than are heterosexuals, as the American Psychological Association has pointed out. It's pretty simple: Gay men are attracted to men, not children. Child molesters, on the other hand, are attracted to children. There's generally no overlap between the two.

Nevertheless, the AFA, FRC, and groups like them have been pushing the discredited homosexuality-pedophilia link for years -- but now, the BSA has finally seen through their lies. That's a relief, especially to former Scouts like me, who remember Scout Law: "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."

Those are values that I still try to live up to today. Discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry, on the other hand, have no place in Scouting -- or anywhere else.

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Matt Baume