As you may have heard, the Boy Scouts of America voted Monday to drop their ban on gay scout leaders. Predictably, this caused anguish in certain circles (the Mormon Church, for instance, was “deeply troubled” by this development).
But perhaps the most confused reaction I’ve seen so far emanates from The Blaze‘s Wayne Dupree, in an article entitled “It’s Time To Shut Down The Boy Scouts of America“.
Dupree reveals that, were he in charge of the BSA, he’d “have shut the whole thing down rather than let it become what it is.” Which is what, exactly? A little more tolerant. That’s about it.
But Dupree is genuinely upset by this, reminding readers of the Boy Scout Oath (emphasis his):
On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally STRAIGHT.
I’m pretty sure the Boy Scouts didn’t mean for that word to reference sexual orientation (unless they also intended “mentally awake” to signify that Boy Scouts never sleep).
So what’s the big deal about gay scout leaders?
Well, obviously, he’s concerned about the safety of the scouts; like Scott Walker, he wants to ensure that children are protected from the Gay Menace. Unlike Walker’s imply-and-deny technique, though, Dupree is a lot less hesitant to draw attention to what kind of threat he has in mind. He doesn’t come straight out and say pedophilia, but it is nonetheless clear:
My mother trusted the scout leader and den leader when we went on trips and events and we felt safe. I don’t understand why this insitution [sic] has to be “attacked.”
I don’t live in the stone age but I do have a perfectly legitimate question — Why do gay men want to be scout leaders for young boys? It is like they are totally confused about their sexuality. Wouldn’t it be more natural for the Girl Scouts to allow gay men to be scout leaders for young girls ?
This would be laughable if he wasn’t serious. He seems truly flummoxed by why a gay man might want to be a scout leader without having nefarious, predatory aims.
So I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and venture “probably for the exact same reasons a straight guy would want to.” Because here’s the thing: scout leaders — gay or straight — aren’t there because of their sexuality; they’re there to mentor and teach kids. Sexual orientation is simply irrelevant to their job, which is why it was so stupid (to say nothing of bigoted) to ban gay people at all.
Also, Mr. Dupree, since this seems to be a point of confusion… a man whose sexuality makes kids (male or female) unsafe is a pedophile. And I can’t believe I have to tell you this, but “pedophile” and “gay” are not synonymous. Just as the girls in my 4-H club were safe around our friends’ straight dads, boys aren’t threatened by gay scout leaders. Just because you’re sexually attracted to adult members of the same gender does not mean you are attracted to children, of any gender. Those are different things.
Along with an ample explanation of how this is all the fault of “supreme ruler” President Obama, Dupree offers a related-but-different take on the “gay people are pedophiles” trope. Specifically, he uses the “but what about all the people who think that gay people are pedophiles?” approach:
The LGBT community didn’t care that many parents simply don’t feel comfortable sending their young boys camping alone in the forest with openly gay men, and how ruinous this would be for attracting new members. Instead these selfish hatemongers wanted to make sure that the Boy Scouts would lose at least as much by not completely giving in to their demands, doing everything they could to convince more liberal parents and organizations to boycott the Boy scouts to coerce them to comply.
His objection, in a nutshell, is that wanting the Scouts to be inclusive doesn’t account for the feelings of people who (wrongly) assume that all gay men are pedophiles. Ignoring their misguided feelings makes us “selfish hatemongers.” Somehow, the BSA withdrawing its support of discriminatory policies is terrible because it will harm the scouts.
How does one even think that, much less write it, without seeing the irony?
I’m not sure. But what I do know is that the ignorance of some isn’t enough to maintain a discriminatory status quo. The Boy Scouts did the right thing in repealing their ban on gay scout leaders. Not just for those who want to serve the kids of their community, but for the scouts who can now benefit from the wisdom, enthusiasm, and perspective of leaders who, until this week, were prohibited from volunteering.
Now it’s time for the BSA to follow suit with atheists.
(Image via Shutterstock)