I’m sure most readers of this blog have heard of Boy Scouts v. Dale, the case holding that the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right not to admit homosexuals as Scout leaders.
Of particular interest is the argument made by the Scouts, which the court ultimately accepted:
The Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values embodied in the Scout Oath and Law, particularly with the values represented by the terms ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean.’ . . . The Boy Scouts asserts that it ‘teach[es] that homosexual conduct is not morally straight.’
The problem with that statement, in my eyes, is that it is completely dishonest.
I have had some experience in the Boy Scouts. Like many Mormons, I earned my Eagle Scout. I participated in Scout activities for my youth, in three different areas, and in four different troops. And I was never once told that my recitation of the Scout Oath or Scout Law was a coded statement that I would not engage in homosexual acts.
The Scouts are certainly capable of telling boys what to do. They told me not to cut towards myself with a knife. They told me not to play with fire, and not to litter. They told me not to lie, and not to be discourteous. But I was never once told, “Don’t be a homosexual.”
Now perhaps someone simply decided I didn’t need such counsel. I was a churchgoing LDS kid, clearly interested in girls rather than boys, and I did get some measure of indoctrination against homosexuality in church. But the fact is that no one in Scouts ever told me not to be gay. No one told me that my recitation of the Scout Oath or Scout Law was a secret promise not to be gay. And many of my fellow scouts came from religious environments that did not condemn homosexuality — and as far as I could tell, they weren’t told not be gay either.
And now, suddenly, after the fact, I’m told that every time I was reciting the Scout Oath or Scout Law, I was promising to remain heterosexual. I am stunned by the magnitude of the dishonesty in that position. It seems that the Scouts, as a group, have abandoned integrity in favor of a revisionist history that is favored by conservative groups (including the church) who provide major financial support to Scout groups.
I am curious whether my experience was anomalous. Perhaps other readers of this blog, who were Scouts, were told that their promises to be “clean” or to be “morally straight” were a form of promising heterosexuality. If others have had any such experiences, I would be happy to hear them. For now, based on my own observation, I can only conclude that in making the arguments they did, the Scouts abandoned the first principle of the Scout Law — “A Scout is Trustworthy.”