BSA: Morally Straight

February 6, 2013 | 105 comments
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The decision may come today. Will the Boy Scouts of America allow gay leaders and youth to participate in their program?

I have gay relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Some of them are great. Some I love. Some I’d rather not spend much time with because I find them annoying. After all, they are real people, just like my hetero relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, some of whom are great, loveable and/or annoying.

Although not a scout as a child, I am part of BSA now. I even have a uniform to wear. And I desperately want to share the privilege and responsibilities of that uniform with any who desire to serve and give their time and energy to help these kids grow into strong, capable people.

So I say, change “morally straight” to “morally true” and move on.

 

Update: The decision has been put off until May.

105 Responses to BSA: Morally Straight

  1. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Amen.

  2. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

    It will be interesting to see what the BSA does and how the Church will respond. My guess is that nothing will change for LDS troops for two reasons:

    Regardless of their feelings on same-sex attraction in general, I suspect that many parents in the church that will resist the notion of allowing gay men to be called as scout leaders for their teenage sons for the same reason that they would be uncomfortable for straight men to be called as their teenage daughter’s young women’s leaders.

  3. Adam Greenwood on February 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I hope the BSA holds firm. Caving in to activists is weak and putting the burden of lawsuits on local units is craven.

  4. Sam Brunson on February 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Why, Adam? What is served by not allowing gay boys to be members of Boy Scouts? If we’re concerned moral straightness, should we only allow virgins to be members of Scouts? Is there any reason to think that gay boys are more sexually-active than straight boys? If BSA doesn’t reverse its course, it is not only not in line with Mormon values, but it looks like its pursuing sunk costs—continuing to fight, not because there’s a reason, but because it’s already fought in the past.

    I do agree that putting the burden on local units is craven; local units should not have the option to opt out (like they apparently don’t right now). But baby steps are better than no steps.

  5. John Mansfield on February 6, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I’m generally a bit mystified that some people claim to know lots of homosexuals. There aren’t that many of them. Do they have some outreach program where each one strives to have a thousand heterosexuals claiming him/her as a relative, neighbor, friend, or acquaintance?

  6. Tim on February 6, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I think younger people tend to know more people who are openly homosexual.

    I imagine geographic location has a lot to do with it too. I’ve spent most my life in the Mormon Corridor and I know just one from the region.

    On the other hand, my law school was located in a fairly conservative area, and yet a handful of individuals from my small class were openly homosexual.

    And of course I got to know quite a few when I lived in the California Bay Area, even though I wasn’t there for long.

    So if you’re a middle-aged or older individual living in Utah, your chances of knowing a lot of individuals who are homosexual is a lot lower than if you were younger and lived anywhere else.

  7. David T on February 6, 2013 at 10:46 am
  8. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Wow, unknown. It sounds like in your world no men can be trusted to have any self control around youth, gay or straight. One, you’re selling men short. Two, the scout program is pretty adamant about its two-deep leadership policy and it’s privacy and no-hazing policies. Every leader goes through youth protection training (unless you are in a poorly run church troop that doesn’t deserve to maintain its charter).

    John, I do know far more heterosexual people than gay people. I often wonder if the people who claim to know no gay people are unaware or radiate some kind of vibe that discourages others from confiding in them.

  9. Sam Brunson on February 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    John (5), where do you live? We’ve tended to know between one and three gay couples in every building we lived in in New York. Andersonville/Edgewater has one of the largest gay populations in Chicago. I had a partner at my law firm and several colleagues in legal academia who are openly gay. Etc. I’m surprised when I hear of people who don’t know a lot of openly gay people; if there is a place where gay people stay inordinately in the closet, it’s not a place I’ve lived in the last fifteen years or so.

  10. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for the update, David.

  11. ji on February 6, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I would like to know the WHY of the proposed change — the BSA already won its case at the Supreme Court — and having a no-gay-adult membership policy is a reasonable and prudent step towards protecting youth — why change now? No one here can answer this question, but I hope the BSA will.

  12. David T on February 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

    ji, they have:

    [BSA spokesman Deron] Smith also takes issue with those who see the proposed policy change as a capitulation to special-interest groups.

    “The decision to discuss the policy is the result of a long-standing dialogue within the Scouting family,” Smith said. “Last year we realized the policy was causing some volunteers and chartered organizations that oversee and deliver the program to act in conflict with their missions, principles or religious beliefs.”

    Like, for example, LDS leaders unable to call faithful gay members to callings when there is a need. See this faithful, non-agitating gay member’s experience: http://www.springsofwater.com/2010/02/22/big-can-of-worms/

  13. Bryan S. on February 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

    “It sounds like in your world no men can be trusted to have any self control around youth, gay or straight.”

    Please do correct me if I’m wrong but I understand that church policy for the primary is that men can’t be trusted to have any self control to be teachers on their own.

  14. Jeremy on February 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

    So, is it the opinion, among Mormons opposed to changing the BSA policy, that a 16-year-old boy who is gay but has agreed to abide by Church moral standards should not be allowed to get his Eagle Scout award if he has completed all the requirements? Is it your opinion that an LDS man who is gay, but celibate, should not be allowed to serve on a Scout Committee for an LDS troop?

    Adam in #3: is “looking weak” really a valid consideration in what is a moral consideration? For goodness sakes, I can think of few worse lessons to teach children than “Make your moral decisions based on whether or not one choice or the other will make you look weak.”

    John in #5: I do not personally know any polar bears. That does not mean that there are fewer polar bears than people who count polar bears claim. In fact, precisely because I don’t know any polar bears, I avoid casting doubt on anyone’s estimates of polar bear populations. As for the “outreach” program, it is a strategy known as “existing in the world.” Do you want names and addresses of my gay friends and relatives?

  15. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 11:22 am

    But Rachel, if they make that change it will spoil the whole cadence of the Scout Oath! It’s much more satisfying to end on a hard consonant sound, don’t you agree? ;)

    Seriously, all of my Scout leaders were hetero (I think) and *most* were horrible. (One or two exceptions, mind you.) It seems to me that BSA has been making decisions for the wrong reasons for a long time. It’s not, is this person a responsible and caring adult who knows first aid and won’t leave part of the troop in the woods after an activity or let them start fires inside shelters in his backyard or simply ignore them while they play basketball for months on end at the church? (All true stories from my experience, btw.) No, instead it’s, is this person attracted to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie? (Though, to be honest, I don’t know how any person could not be attracted to both of them.)

  16. Pam on February 6, 2013 at 11:22 am

    John (#5) there is no exact figure for what percentage of the population is gay. There is a recent study that suggests about 4% of the population in the U.S. identifies as LGBT http://abcnews.go.com/Health/williams-institute-report-reveals-million-gay-bisexual-transgender/story?id=13320565.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you know a lot more gay people than you think you do. Do you perhaps live in a small conservative community where is might not be as acceptable to talk about sexual orientation? I live in Austin, Texas, which is considered a liberal town. There is a large gay population and I have had many gay friends and coworkers.

  17. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Rachel (#8)

    Two deep or not, a lot of people I know would be uncomfortable if men started being called being called as young women’s leaders or women were called as young men’s leaders because the possiblily for trouble is heightened. That is why the Church has strict guidelines on such things. In the same vein, calling gay men to serve in the young men’s program would heighten the possibility for trouble, whether there is two deep leadership or not.

    But that it not the only reason why I think that people will be uncomfortable with the idea.

    Aside from the protection from predators, another reason that women are called to be leaders and advisors to the teenage young women of the church, as opposed to men, is so that they can serve as role models for the young women. From the Church’s perspective, I think this includes providing young women with examples of strong older women who have served missions, who have obtained good educations, who perhaps have had or have successful careesr, who have been to the temple, and who value marriage and motherhood. Calling men to teach young women’s classes would not fulfill this objective, as their role models would then be men.

    In the same vein, calling gay men to serve in the young men’s program, including in scouting, would not provide the role models that the Church wants the young men of the Church to emulate, if for no other reason then most of these gay leaders would not be able to speak from personal experience about temple marriage — a key objective for the young’s men program of the Church.

    My suggstion that people might have difficulty with possible announcement by the BSA is not meant as a sleight on those that are gay. Recognizing that it might not meet the needs and stated objectives of the church’s young men’s program to call gays men to be young men leaders is no more of an insult than acknowledging that calling straight men to teach young women or straight women to teach young men might not meet the needs of the youth programs either. Just because a straight man is not called to work with the young women does not make him any less “worthy” in the Church’s eyes or does not mean that he is discriminated against. Similarly, a gay man can still be worthy in the Church’s eye and will not be discriminated against if he is not called to teach young men.

  18. John Mansfield on February 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Anyone who sees lots of polar bears probably has an interesting explanation why that is the case with him, because seeing lots of polar bears isn’t normal.

  19. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Unknown, to quote a favorite character concerning your use of “discriminate” – I do not think that means what you think it means. If they’re not being called because they are gay, that is by definition discriminatory. It may not be malicious (or it may be), arbitrary, or any number of other things, but it is discriminatory.

  20. Tim on February 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Unknown, are you seriously claiming that single men should not be called to serve in the Young Men’s program because they’ve never been married?

    It’s a good thing we have Singles wards, to keep all those 20-something single guys as far away from the Young Men’s program as we can…

  21. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Brian (19) – I see your point, and should have chosen my words more carefully. Technically, straight men are discriminated against because they do not get work with young women, straight women are discrimingated agaisnt because they are not called to work young men, and gay men would be discriminated against because they are not called to work with young men. That said, I don’t think that most men in the church view their lack of opportunity to be a young women’s advisor as a form of discrimination. Perhaps, it would have been more accurate if I had said “is perceived as being discriminated against”.

    I also should have noted that implicit in my last comment is the notion that because of the Church’s intergration of the young men’s program with scouting, different considerations apply than those that might affect an average non-LDS troop.

  22. John Mansfield on February 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

    This there is interest on this point, I live near Gaithersburg, Maryland in Montgomery County, bordering Washington, D.C. Montgomery County had 970,000 people in the last census, and the last time a Republican was an elected county official was six years ago.

  23. ideasnstuff on February 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Our Church units have undoubtedly been violating the previous BSA policy for years. Since Scouting has been the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood, a young man with known same-sex attraction (say, for example, he has discussed it with his Bishop), most certainly would not have been excluded from the ward’s scouting unit or barred from its activities, including camping trips. Thus, any ban on gay members of a Scouting unit has always been contrary to the Church’s mission. On the other hand, it would be very difficult to imagine almost any Church unit knowingly calling a gay man to be a scout leader, due to the risk that, despite all the BSA precautions, the man may be placed in situations of private and intimate contact with adolescent males to whom he may be attracted. That decision should not be considered a slam against the self-control of gay men, just an acknowledgement of dangers and temptations that beset all of us.

  24. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Tim (20) – I’m not claiming that single people are never called or never should be called. I am only claiming that youth leaders are called, in part, so that they can serve as valuable role models for the youth. This includes modeling family life and commitment to temple covenants, including marriage. Almost every bishopric with whom I have been associated has made this a key factor in their search for both young mens and young womens leaders.

    I also note that from an example or behaviorial modeling perspective, there is a difference between a straight single adult, who has the possibility of a temple marriage on the horizon, and a gay single adult, who (based on our current standards and doctrine) does not have the possibility of a temple marriage on the horizon.

  25. Bryan S. on February 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Unknown,

    I think that temple marriage is only on of the many possible examples that someone could be. So aside from being married in the temple, a righteous gay man can be just as good of an example as anyone else. I think you (or the hypothetical member who has a problem with gays being a YM leader) might be putting too much weight on a binary example (married or not married) when there are a whole lot of more important examples that YM will pick up on. (i.e. kindness, charity, self-confidence, etc…)

  26. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Bryan S. (25) – Then do you advocate for the equal right of a straight man to be a young women’s leader or a straight women to be a young men’s leader?

  27. Cameron N on February 6, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    My father, who luckily was assertive enough as a 13 year old to resist advances by a gay leader at a campout(there was another leader there but he didn’t notice), will likely oppose this, and I oppose it as well.

    There is something to be said for pragmatism, regardless of inconsistencies and feelings.

  28. Julie M. Smith on February 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Unknown, in a church with single members and gay members, we need to have YM and YW leaders who can model being a faithful single and/or faithful gay member. So this would be a feature, not a bug, of having faithful gay LDS scout leaders.

  29. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Cameron N, the scenario you describe is of a pedophile; gay or straight had little to do with it.

  30. MC on February 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    “Cameron N, the scenario you describe is of a pedophile; gay or straight had little to do with it.”

    “Pedophile” generally refers to abnormal attraction to young, pre-pubescent children. Pedophilia is not required for one to be attracted, gay or straight, to a teenager recently emerged from puberty, as many or even most scouts are. I’m not going to link to Urban Dictionary, but even Wikipedia has an entry on the phrase “Chickenhawk”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickenhawk

    Men, whether gay or straight, are more sexually aggressive than women. Which is why I don’t want heterosexual male leaders taking Girl Scouts on campouts, or homosexual men taking teenage Boy Scouts on campouts.

  31. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Julie (28) – Church members should love and respect our gay brothers and sisters. Members should admire those of them that chose to be faithful not withstanding their sexual orientation. I don’t think, however, the brethren want our youth to aspire to be faithful gay members of the Church. Nor do I think that they will want to model that lifestyle (whether it is chosen or not) for the youth.

    My understanding is that the brethren still wish that all male and female members would fully partake of the new and everlasting covenant by participating in the temple sealing ordinance thereby creating eternal family units. There is, of course, a recognition that some will not have be able to acheive these blessings in this life, and that things will be adjusted in the next. Nonetheless, the Church generally models what it wants people to aspire to, however, and not the exceptions to the rule.

    This for example, is why there is a heavy emphasis on marriage and family, even though a large percentage of members are single and many cannot have children. Despite the fact that we love our single members, we are still taught the importance of marriage and family. In addition, there are just some callings that they are not generally given to single members, such as that of a bishop or stake president.

    Thus, absent a change in Church doctrine and emphasis, I do not think that the brethren will view having a gay young men’s leader as a “feature, not a bug.” Most average members will certainly not view it this way. I think that there will simply be some callings that gay men do not receive, including those dealing with young men. Because there are callings that straight men and single members do not now receive, I think that faithful gay members will come to accept that.

  32. MC on February 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    John Mansfield (5),

    This should clear up a few things for you:
    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/03/14/88-having-gay-friends/

  33. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    MC – if it’s simply a matter of aggressiveness, then clearly all youth should be supervised by women. Or better yet, by young women. Or better yet, by the CTR 4s, because they’re fairly docile (terrors before and after, however).

    Unknown – it’s not chosen, then what’s aspiration and modeling have to do with it?

  34. Sharee on February 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I live in Salt Lake City and know quite a few gay men. Some I consider friends. I do not think the Boy Scouts (or the Church, for that matter) should exclude gay young men from the scouting program. Every boy should be allowed that opportunity. I also don’t think that faithful church members who happen to have same-sex attraction should be excluded from callings in the Young Men’s programs. Nobody says anything about not allowing girls who are lesbian to participate in Young Women’s programs or excluding women who are faithful church members who have same-sex attraction from leadership positions over other females. Although I personally do not know any lesbians (that I am aware of), I’m sure there must be some in the church who nevertheless keep the commandment of chastity. Why must we always live in fear?

  35. MC on February 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Brian,

    “if it’s simply a matter of aggressiveness, then clearly all youth should be supervised by women.”

    I’m sure you’re the first to volunteer to have your teenage boys sleep in the same tent as adult women, or your teenage girls camping out with adult men. After all, only silly backwards weirdos like me think that heterosexual adults would be tempted to have sex with teenagers of the opposite sex, or that homosexual men would be tempted into sex with teenagers of the same sex.

    But I’m glad that you are so pure of heart about this. When is your teenage daughter’s next campout in a tent with an adult heterosexual male?

  36. Roland RIchey on February 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    It is my understanding that the policy the BSA is exploring is to bring it more in line with recent policy changes made by the LDS Church, but most of the resistance is actually coming from Southern Bible Belt congregations.

    Another thing influencing the BSA is that most of their donations on the national and regional level come from rich corporate sponsors. It would be a different story if the money came from big churches.

  37. Dave K on February 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    MC – my understanding of current church policy is that no adults ever sleep in tents with youth unless they are family (e.g., father/son campouts). When adults accompany youth on camping events they sleep in separate quarters. Scoutmasters sleep in separate tents (or vehicles) from their scouts at scout camp. Church leaders (male and female) sleep in separate tents (or vehicles) at girls camp.

    Far from prohibiting interaction between the sexes at camping functions, church policy requires male priesthood holders to camp overnight at girls camp. In my stake, so far we’ve had no instances of YW molested by priesthood leaders. I personally would have no worries with gay leaders overseeing my boys at scout camp – provided they follow current church and scouting policies.

  38. MC on February 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Having one or two priesthood holders at girls camp, along with dozens of female leaders, is necessary for reasons of protection. There is no such ratio nor need for protection with gay Boy Scout leaders. They simply are not comparable situations.

    If you assume that treating gay people exactly like straight people is the very most important thing in the whole world, I can see why you would have a problem with carving out this one, tiny exception to equality for the sake of sanity. I do not make that assumption, however.

  39. David T on February 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Official Church Statement on the Delay:

    The Church is following this proposed policy change very closely. We believe the BSA has acted wisely in delaying its decision until all voices can be heard on this important moral issue.

    They have been very careful not to come out for or against. I feel that whatever decision the BSA ultimately makes, the Church will come out in favor of its wisdom, and keep with the program.

  40. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    MC – there are *many* men I would trust to sleep in the same tent as my daughter and *many* I would not trust. Same with women. It’s about the person, not the gender, in case you missed it. I don’t plan on outsourcing my child-raising to the BSA, however, though I could see that if one did they’d prefer to rely strictly on large-scale statistical trends.

  41. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    MC, I never understood how having a couple of guys sleeping in the bed of a truck down the road from girls’ camp made anyone safer. Protect from what? And how? The only justification that I might accept is that the priesthood holders are nice to have on hand in case someone feels they need a blessing.

  42. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Rachel, it’s for the bears. (Example: Elisha) ;)

  43. MC on February 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    “I don’t plan on outsourcing my child-raising to the BSA, however, though I could see that if one did they’d prefer to rely strictly on large-scale statistical trends.”

    Parents who entrust (rather than “outsource”) their kids to BSA leadership expect that men who might naturally be drawn sexually to young, virile men will not be included in the leadership roster. If this expectation were destroyed, will we expect every single parent in the troop to personally vet the background of each and every leader or father who accompanies the boys on a camping trip?

  44. MC on February 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    “MC, I never understood how having a couple of guys sleeping in the bed of a truck down the road from girls’ camp made anyone safer. Protect from what? And how? The only justification that I might accept is that the priesthood holders are nice to have on hand in case someone feels they need a blessing.”

    Rachel, if that’s the only reason that you “might accept” for why a group of women and girls out in the middle of the woods would be safer with a couple of men around, then you are so far down the feminist rabbit hole that I can’t reach you.

  45. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    MC – Then might I suggest that the problem is not about gay or straight, male or female, but rather that we are “entrusting” our children to others too easily.

  46. ideasnstuff on February 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    It will be very important for the BSA to leave admittance of gay scouts and leaders to the discretion of the sponsoring organizations. Imposition of non-discrimination could lead to the Church simply dropping its sponsorship of BSA, which would be a major blow to the Boy Scouts. Not much of a blow to the Church, which can certainly design and conduct its own activity and achievement arm for young men. I loved my time in Scouting, always in LDS units, but it has always been apparent that there are young men who are not well served by the BSA. A Church-designed program could be more inclusive of boys who are not so much into the campin’, hikin’ and fishin’ paradigm, while accommodating those who are.

  47. MC on February 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    “MC – Then might I suggest that the problem is not about gay or straight, male or female, but rather that we are “entrusting” our children to others too easily.”

    Well, I suppose one way of fixing that problem to publicly declare that men who are sexually attracted to other men will now be allowed to take young men into the woods. Now no one will let their boy go on a campout without inquiring into the sexual background of every leader and parent volunteer. Excessive trusting problem SOLVED, BSA! Kudos.

  48. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks MC. “feminist rabbit hole” made me laugh. But really, what real protection do the guys offer? They aren’t up at the camp with the girls. They don’t secure the entire perimeter. They are not armed or trained to fight off assailants any more than the women leaders are. So I should accept another justification: it may make some people, which may include girls, leaders and/or parents, feel safer. I still think being on hand to administer a blessing is a better reason.

    As for parents vetting the background of their children’s leaders, that’s probably a good idea anyway. But it’s even more important for parents to talk to their kids, have a open and forthright relationship, set clear boundaries of safe and comfortable conduct, and be approachable enough that their kids can talk to them if anything that makes them uncomfortable happens. That is the best way to protect our kids.
    Excluding openly gay men or lesbian women from serving as scoutmasters or den mothers hasn’t protected all children in the past, so that doesn’t seem like the best justification to continue excluding them in the future. Wouldn’t you rather know your scoutmaster is gay than darkly suspect? If you have a gay son, wouldn’t you rather he have the opportunity to openly participate in scouts without fear of being denigrated? Wouldn’t you want all of your children to have good, wholesome interaction with leaders who are morally true, people of integrity and self-control, whether they are gay or straight?

  49. MC on February 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    “Excluding openly gay men or lesbian women from serving as scoutmasters or den mothers hasn’t protected all children in the past, so that doesn’t seem like the best justification to continue excluding them in the future.”

    Respectfully, that is not a logical statement. That’s like saying “Putting fire extinguishers in office buildings hasn’t protected all buildings from burning down in the past, so that doesn’t seem like the best justification to keep fire extinguishers in place in the future.”

    On a side note, I’ve been at girls’ camp twice as a priesthood leader, and both times I was right on the edge of the camp where I would have heard an intruder. And even if you subscribe to the idea that men are no harder to overpower than women (obviously I do not), surely criminals are backwards and regressive enough to think they will be safer attacking a camp where they know there are no men. I mean, if parents, leaders and girls think that men make them safer, won’t a potential assailant as well? And then won’t that have a deterrent effect that DOES in fact make them safer?

  50. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Here is the Celarent argument I was working with:

    1. Openly gay leaders would molest boys. (All gays molest)
    2. Openly gay leaders have not been allowed in the past. (No gays)
    C. So no boys have been molested in the past. (No molesting)

    The conclusion is clearly false from evidence, so I questioned the truth value of the first premise.

    But I am first to admit I am not a logician, so your analogy may extinguish me. :)

  51. anonymous for this thread on February 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    As a victim of a homosexual scout leader, I hope the BSA never allows gays to serve as leaders. That experience and confusion, especially at that age, was a spiritual and social stumbling block I didn’t need.

  52. MC on February 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Rachel,

    I neither believe that all (or most, or even all that many) gays molest, nor that there were no gay scout leaders in the past, openly or not. We’re dealing with probabilities here, the same as with the placement of fire extinguishers to reduce, rather than eliminate, the likelihood of fires.

    That said, I sincerely applaud you for being able to debate something you clearly care about without resorting to personal attacks or postures of indignation. That’s becoming all too rare on Mormon blogs.

  53. wreddyornot on February 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I agree with the post.

    In fact, I’d go further, but that’s beyond the scope.

    What amazes me as I read through such postings relative to such issues is how, as we as a society and Church progress over time in expanding our love and understanding and tolerance for our great differences and quirkinesses, a good share of us want to stop any progress and continue to stagnate in the scapegoating of others.

    This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of love, of understanding, and of kindness. What would Christ have done? He includes all, makes the Gospel available to everyone, marrieds and not marrieds, gays and straights, men and women. Here we’re talking about exclusion, plain and simple. Keep those individuals out of the BSA; they possess a stigma that’s different from us.

    As we ask and seek and knock, we learn how to become more loving, more sensitive, more understanding. Where is our love? And, just because it’s me, where is my Mother in Heaven?

  54. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks again MC. I enjoy having conversation with people who hold different opinions and points of view than my own. I always learn something, and sometimes I come around to a different position.

    I’ve been following a similar conversation thread elsewhere, which, unfortunately, is not as civil as the one here. One person asked “what sexual orientation do you think males who molest boys are?” Quick research showed that half of all molesters are married, so overtly, they are hetero. We’re dealing with a lot of factors and unknowns here.

    Anonymous, I am so deeply sorry that happened to you. No one needs to go through that. I can understand that you would be naturally wary of anyone who reminded you of that experience, whether it is because they are gay or share the same hair color or drive the same kind of car. But even MC seems to agree that not “most, or even all that many) gays molest”. Men are will be punished for their own sins.

  55. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I’m gay, and I’m a Scout leader in my Ward. And yes, the Bishop, Stake President, and other leaders know I’m gay. I have a current Temple Recommend. I’m extremely active. I’m also fantastic with kids of all ages – especially those who are troubled. I’ve taught the older teens in Sunday School for many years, and in that time have managed to reactivate a number of the wayward or lost. Three of those ‘black sheep’ went on to serve missions and all are now married in the Temple. One of their mothers told me recently that I had literally saved her son when no one else seemed to be able to.

    So it annoys me when I see comments like these that marginalize or dismiss gay Mormans and the value of what we contribute to the Church:

    23. “On the other hand, it would be very difficult to imagine almost any Church unit knowingly calling a gay man to be a scout leader, due to the risk that, despite all the BSA precautions, the man may be placed in situations of private and intimate contact with adolescent males to whom he may be attracted.”

    You’re ignorantly assuming that many or all gay people are sexually attracted to adolescents – and you are dead wrong.

    31. “Thus, absent a change in Church doctrine and emphasis, I do not think that the brethren will view having a gay young men’s leader as a “feature, not a bug.” Most average members will certainly not view it this way. I think that there will simply be some callings that gay men do not receive, including those dealing with young men. Because there are callings that straight men and single members do not now receive, I think that faithful gay members will come to accept that.”

    Gay men can receieve any calling straight me can recieve. Worthiness is worthiness. I know gay Stake Presidents, High Counseleors, and Bishops. And no, gay members do not ‘accept that’, because that isn’t the policy of the Church. We’re not second-class members or some lower life form. We’re children of God just like you, and we’re entitled to everything in the Church that you are. EVERYTHING.

    If you want more information, see this OFFICIAL Church web site about gays: http://www.mormonsandgays.org

  56. Blake on February 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Come on Rachel, you can do better than the obvious straw man argument you give us in 50. There is a legitimate concern here. I was propositioned by a gay Scout leader as a 12 year old Scout. I spoke to the Bishop and that man was not allowed on any other Scout events.

    Here is an obvious inductive argument that is logically sound, but it looks nothing like what you proposed:

    (1) Gay men have a much higher probability than straight men to be attracted to maturing Boy Scouts.

    (2) Those who are attracted to young men sexually are much more likely to molest them than those who are not.

    (3) It is appropriate to protect against those who have a greater probability of molesting young men.

    (4) Therefore it is appropriate to protect against the higher probability that gay men will molest young men.

    The form that protection takes can be argued; but I don’t want gay leaders on camp-outs with young men for the same reason I don’t want male coaches in the women’s locker room. What, you suggest that it is unreasonable to think that men can avoid looking while the girls shower? Yeah, it is possible, but I wouldn’t bet my daughters on it. I have also heard arguments that gays have been required to control their sexuality a lot more than herteros and so they have greater control. That argument hardly deserves comment. I have a lot of practice controlling my thoughts and gaze, but it is built into me to want to look. I expect it is the same for a gay man.

    Is anyone arguing that women should be allowed on overnight camps with young men? How about male leaders with girl scouts – is anyone arguing for that? What about that discrimination? Well, it is not discrimination if there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the differentiation.

    That said, I am for allowing gay boy scouts — but I worry about them sharing the same tents with other young men. I was also definitely propositioned by one young man in my ward. Every boy in our troop was aware of his interest in engaging in sexual acts with other boys. I solved that problem by promising to punch him out if he didn’t leave me alone. But we shouldn’t ask that of our Boy Scouts, should we? It just isn’t a good solution. Nevertheless, I cannot bring myself to exclude young men if they confess that they are gay and are willing to agree to not proposition the other young men. Do we make them stay in a separate tent on overnighters and at Scout Camp? I really hate the stigma that goes with that, but I do not have any better solution to the problem.

  57. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Blake,

    You need to get your facts stright before you make any more ignorant and uninformed statements about what gay people are likely to do. The fact is that STRAIGHT men do most of the molesting of both boys and girls. Pedophilia is largely about intimidation and control. You’re clinging to old sterotypes.

    And just so you know – the Boy Scouts allow girls to join and also allow women to serve as troop leaders. There are many co-ed troops out there, so there are plenty of instances where women and men and boys and girls are on campouts all at the same time. Shocking, I know. Its gotta be the end of the world or something.

  58. anonymous for this thread on February 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Rachel, thanks for your sympathy. I’m not naturally wary today of LGBT people. I’m capable of deciding for myself to engage or not in that behavior. At 14, I wasn’t able to defend myself in a one-on-one situation. I was young for my age and two-deep leadership wasn’t adhered to. The brother who dropped the ball on two deep leadership years later apologized.

    I don’t have animus toward the non-straight. I just think it’s unwise to put people in situations where they face temptations with dangerous consequences for the innocent. I do mind that I can’t teach a primary class with the door closed; I wish I could be primary president. But I understand that experience shows that men cause, on average, more sexual abuse in primary than do women. As for BSA, it’s clear that gay men cause more sexual abuse among the scouts than straight. Not that straight men are angels; I suppose gay or straight, jerks are equally distributed. Yes, it’s discriminatory, in the same way we as a society discriminate against those who can’t handle money with poor credit ratings or those who can’t handle alcohol by taking their drivers licenses.

    As for LDS scouts struggling with same-sex attraction, of course they should be allowed to participate. As long as they are working with the bishop to keep the law of chastity and are not open about their struggles (i.e., proselyting a gay lifestyle), they should be welcome. That’s the standard of BSA and the church, if I recall the policies of both correctly.

  59. MC on February 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Real scientific studies* seem to consistently show that gays are about 1-4% of the population. Even if, as Rachel suggests above, half or more of molesters of boys are married to women, that would mean that half of them aren’t.** Let’s assume, arguendo, that 30% of men who molest teenage boys or lure them into sex are gay. That would be less than one-third the total.*** But that would mean statistically that a gay man is somewhere between 10 to 40 times more likely to have sex with a teenage boy than a straight man. By eliminating 1 to 4 % of scoutmasters, you would eliminate 30% of the sexual assaults. That sounds like a reasonable trade-off to me.

    Those numbers are speculative, of course. But I would love to see some hard numbers cited chapter and verse before I discard the common sense notion that men who prefer sex with men are more likely to want to have sex with 14-17 year-old young men than are men who prefer to have sex with women.

    *i.e., not the Kinsey Report.
    **I’m taking her word on it just for the sake of argument.
    *** I suspect that’s a conservative estimate.

  60. Blake on February 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Neal: I believe that you just missed what I said about “maturing boys” — I am not even addressing young children or pedophilia (and do not even think of suggesting that I am arguing that all gay men are pedophiles or more likely to be pedophiles). Scouts range in age from 12 to 18. Many 15 to 18 year-olds are men in physique (tho their brains are years behind their bodies usually). So before you go off on a tirade, read more carefully. It is not my intent to marginalize, but your argument that “I do it so everyone can” is fallacious. My own experience suggests that cautions are quite in order. I am as entitled to my experience as you are to yours.

    No women or girls sleep in the same tents as Boy Scouts — even in co-ed troops. Gay boys would if the policy is changed. So your observation about co-ed troops is irrelevant. Women leaders do not stay over night in adjacent tents. Maybe you should check out the facts before you start skewing them. I am sure that you are aware that gay men are attracted to other gay men.

  61. Rachel Whipple on February 6, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I think abuse can take place anytime there is a power imbalance and misplaced trust. I’m glad your bishop listened to you and took care of the problem. Case by case resolution is appropriate. Condemning an entire class of people for the sins of a few, sins that by the way that are not theirs exclusively, is wrong. I refuse to concede any point that equates all gay men with pedophiles and child molesters.

    You could just as easily make an argument that most women are raped by men, so no man should ever be allowed to interact with any woman. But that, of course, is ridiculous. If you try to make that real, by limiting women’s relationships to men in their families, as some cultures do, then the women are beaten and killed by men in their families. Should no young woman ever be alone with a male leader? Private interviews with her bishop? Some people think not. It’s creepy, right? to have a girl alone with an older man? Should all men be condemned for the actions of a few? It’s the fallacy of generalization.

    The reality is that we need good leaders, who are appropriately screened and trained. We need to empower our kids to resist predators, who could be anyone, gay or straight, who abuses their position of trust and authority. See my second paragraph on 48. It sounds like you were able to do that, Blake, and that’s good.

  62. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Blake,

    I think its quite clear what you referring to, despite your efforts to retrench.

    MC,

    The ‘real, scientific’ psychologists and counselors I know agree with findings like this one:

    “In the book Mental Disorders of the New Millennium (2006), author and psychology professor Thomas Plante writes:

    Although the majority of clergy abuse victims are males, homosexuality cannot be blamed. First, many of the pedophile priests report that they are not homosexual. This is also true of many non-clergy sex offenders who victimize boys. Many report that they target boys for a variety of reasons that include easier access to boys … pregnancy fears with female victims … homosexuals in general have not been found to be more likely to commit sexual crimes against minors compared to heterosexuals. Sexual orientation is not predictive of sex crimes.

  63. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Rachael,

    Got side-tracked. Before I forget – thank you for this post and your thoughtful responses.

  64. Bryan S. on February 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    “homosexuals in general have not been found to be more likely to commit sexual crimes against minors compared to heterosexuals.”

    Well this is the first time I’ve seen anyone use a legitimate study that said this. I’m not sure what the words “in general” are supposed to mean though. That they found times where homosexuals are more likely to commit sexual crimes against minors? Or was it just an unnecessary figure of speech? I’ll have to research and see if I can get some hard numbers. Even peer reviewed studies can try to pull the wool over your eyes.

  65. MC on February 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Neal,
    All I see in the “scientific” passage you cite are whole lot of generalities (“many”) and assertions not backed up by any data. They certainly don’t refute even my back-of-the-envelope reasoning. Come back when you have hard numbers I can tangle with.

  66. Brian on February 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Neal, MC doesn’t believe in statistics, or s/he would be arguing for lesbian scout leaders of all male troops because *clearly* they would have the least incentive to molest a scout. Not only are they not attracted to men/boys, they’re women and therefore weaker than the men so the scouts could physically defend themselves.

    And MC, before you complain about a personal attack, note # 35.

  67. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Brian,

    Thanks. For some people it just comes down to finding a way to justify their homophobia. Any way.

    MC,

    I’m not your mother. Google it yourself.

  68. MC on February 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Rachel,

    Your last comment would be more germane if anyone were arguing that no boy should ever interact with a gay man, or that no gay man should be alone in a room at the church building with a boy. But no one is.

    I don’t ride alone in the car with our teenage babysitter. I still wouldn’t even if I were the bishop. Context is important.

  69. Unknown on February 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Blake (56) hits the nail on the head. People are demanding that gays be allowed to do in the Church what straight men and women are not allowed to do, ie serve as adult leaders to youth of the gender that they are attracted to. If we are really concerned about equality here, we would not seek for those that are gay what straight members cannot do. Until I see a groundswell of support for old straight men serving as a laurel advisors in the yw program, I wil not feel that it is unfair to suggest that gay men not be allowed to be venture advisors.

  70. MC on February 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Neal,

    You made the argument. Don’t get testy if you can’t back it up.

  71. MC on February 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Brian,

    You are so gosh darn clever. Where did you ever come up with that “if you don’t want scoutmasters to have sex with boys, why not have LESBIANS as scoutmasters!!” argument? It’s totally original and absolutely takes the concerns of parents who don’t want their sons molested seriously. A golf clap to you.

  72. Neal on February 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    No, MC, you’re the one pulling figures out of the air and making unsustantiated suppositions. I’ve already provided a real reference. There are plenty more.

  73. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I recited the Scout Oath and the Scout Law for years. I was told that this meant a few things. Honesty. Character. I was never once told, “you are taking an oath not to be gay.”

    As it turns out, I am heterosexual. But what if I weren’t?

    If the scouts want to make “and not-gay” the thirteenth point of the Scout Law, they’re welcome to add that. Until that time, I strongly object to the implication that I was agreeing to something that no one ever told me.

    Because frankly, that kind of assertion goes directly against the very first point of the Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy.

    It was disgusting when the Scouts made that claim in the _Dale_ briefs, and I seriously considered returning my Eagle. That misleading assertion is a betrayal of the things that Scouting stands for, and that I learned as a Scout.

    Heck, the Scouting webpage itself defines “morally straight”:

    “To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

    This is what _they_ say “morally straight” means. And _they_ don’t say it means, “don’t be gay.”

    Honesty, character, defending rights. Where is the don’t-be-gay part again?

    Remember, Scout Troops are sponsored by LDS wards — and by Episcopalians and local schools and lots and lots of organizations. The program shouldn’t enshrine LDS specific belief.

    I think the current proposal makes sense. Mormon troops can say, “our religious beliefs mean no gay scouts here.” While Unitarians and Episcopalians and whoever else can say, “our religious beliefs are, it’s okay to be gay.” People can select a troop that works for their particular set of religious values.

  74. Kaimi Wenger on February 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    If we seriously believe that in general, adult men with an attraction to a particular gender will molest young people of that gender if unsupervised and given the opportunity — um, then why in Heaven’s name do we instruct our 12- and 14-year-old girls to go behind closed doors with an adult man (presumably straight) to answer detailed questions about their sex life???

  75. MC on February 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    “There are plenty more.”

    If all of them are as informative and data-driven as your first quote, I can save my Googling energy for more fruitful endeavors.

  76. MC on February 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Kaimi,

    I agree with you that it isn’t likely that the Oath is the main reason for excluding gays (unlike you, I don’t think that its invocation is wholly disingenuous). But as I’m sure you know, that just happens to be the only one that would pass muster for purposes of “expressive association” under the Supreme Court’s 1st Amendment jurisprudence. And if you think that it “makes sense” to allow people to “select a troop that works for their particular set of religious values,” then you should recognize that isn’t possible unless the Scouts say that being “straight” is an integral part of that “expressive association.”

    You’re a law professor, so let me put the question to you: If Congress passes a law saying “No group discriminating against gays may camp on public lands,” and a Mormon troop is barred from pretty much every public accomodation, what possible recourse will they have if they claim that being straight is part of being a Boy Scout if the BSA makes the no gays rule optional?

  77. Cameron N on February 6, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Kaimi,

    Male only environments, for whatever reason, seem to be more of a magnet for this sort of behavior than other kinds of environments. EG Penn State, the Catholic church, etc. Pragmatism trumps emotional equality or the appearance of equality.

    I also find your rhetorical question about bishops to be a bit disingenuous. Firstly, you know why Bishops are deemed ‘okay.’ Secondly, it is probably quite rare that a bishop asks ‘detailed’ questions about a 12-14 year-old’s sex life. Judges in Israel are a special case, whether that would appear proprietary to the world or not.

  78. Jax on February 7, 2013 at 12:09 am

    So when I saw the headline in the news about the BSA considering the change this was my Facebook Post

    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.

    As an Eagle Scout Award recipient I can’t tell you how many times I recited that Scout Oath. How can the BSA possible change its policy on sexual orientation (allying for gay scoutmasters) and still hold to the oath to keep oneself “MORALLY STRAIGHT”? What will they change it to…”To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally ambivalent”?

    And apparenlly 1.4 million scouts sent in a signed petition asking for the rule to change… well, I will no longer proudly proclaim myself an Eagle Scout if they do. I keep my oaths.

    This will obviously seem very offensive and judgmental to some of you, but it is what crossed my mind, for better or worse. A friend made this reply to my comment:

    There is so much more to being “morally straight” than sexual conduct. Unfortunately this reminds me of when Women wanted to vote and African-Americans wanted equality.

    He is right of course. I was too harsh in my original post, but I don’t think I’m wrong on the substance. This was my reply that acknowledges that being “morally straight” isn’t just about sexuality. I said:

    Adam, there is more to being morally straight than just sexual conduct. It would also include honesty, abusiveness, business practices, pornography, kindliness, etc. But it DOES include sexuality as well. When talking in terms of sexuality saying someone is “straight” is regarded exactly the same as saying they are heterosexual; they are basically interchangeable terms. Because all of those thing are included in being “morally straight” a person is NOT morally straight if they are gay/homosexual. They are also not morally straight if they are a thief, a pimp, a white collar criminal, a fraud, abusive, etc. The BSA also doesn’t want these people as leaders, as examples, to their youth. It isn’t that they don’t want ONLY gays, they don’t want anyone who is not of a high moral standard… no matter where their morality is lacking.

    However, someone who is “gay” but who continues to uphold all his oath of chastity is just as morally straight as any heterosexual is because despite having urges to do something morally wrong, they CHOOSE not to – in exactly the same way a straight man might have urges to be unfaithful to his wife but chooses not to. The urge doesn’t define moral rightness, it is how one reacts to the urge, giving in or standing strong.

    But, I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree to send their child away on camping trips with ANYONE to whom they could develop a sexual attraction. I don’t want my son camping with his girlfriend, my daughter with a hetero-man, or any of the other possible scenarios involving heterosexuals or homosexuals. I don’t equate a 15 minute interview behind closed doors with several hours/days of camping together. I don’t “have lots of gay friends” (which is a bad cliche to use by the way) but I’ve met a few and they seem like decent people except for what I consider a moral flaw IF ACTED UPON. If they don’t act upon it, then allowing chaste gays into the BSA isn’t any different or worse than having one in the group who just isn’t open/public/out of the closet.

  79. Kaimi on February 7, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Okay, so let’s ask a hypothetical. Take my friend, let’s call him J.

    J. is an Eagle Scout. Not only that, he is kind of a super scout. He is certified in life saving and CPR, he’s an expert outdoorsman, he’s an excellent teacher. He has a graduate degree and an excellent job in a professional field. He was super-active in Scouts through age 18, and was a very active leader for the next few years.

    Finally, around his early 20s, J decided that not-really-wanting-to-date-women wasn’t just a stage, it really part of him. And so he came out as a gay man. And he began a stable, monogamous relationship with another gay man, also an adult and an educated professional.

    Should J be able to be a Scout leader? Do you really think that this Eagle Scout, professional with a great career, this stable and motivated and mature adult, is going to decide to throw it all away because of a sudden urge to molest 15 year old boys? In what world?

    Because it’s a real loss that J can’t participate. He would be a fantastic leader. He’s in a stable relationship with another adult. He would love to help. He has an excellent track record. And apparently, he must be banned.

    And you know the crazy thing? I _personally know_ more than one J. Details vary slightly, but this is _more than one_ stable, trained adult who would really like to help out.

    And it’s a huge loss to the community.

  80. Tiago on February 7, 2013 at 3:24 am

    I’m a frequent lurker here, but feeling like I need to step out of the shadows for a bit to comment on this one. Some of these comments are giving me a sick/angry feeling. Thank you to those who have tried to be more understanding. I’m not an unbiased observer–I’m a single, faithful LDS man, an Eagle Scout who experiences same sex attraction and currently serves in my ward YM presidency and as assistant scoutmaster. I can only really speak for my own experience, but also hopefully can give some insight into the mind of gays in general.
    There seem to be two reasons floating around for excluding gays from the BSA, both of which are questionable.

    1) Safety of the Boys. I’m totally on board with anything we can do to protect kids and youth. Definitely. I’m not as convinced that all gay men should be excluded from working with boys for this reason. There are plenty of situations where gay men interact with boys with no problems–I’m thinking of public school classrooms, sports teams, managers at jobs etc. Would you allow your 16 year old son to work at Subway if his manager were a gay man? Even if they would be working alone on some shifts? Would you let your son be on a football team coached by a gay man? Maybe you wouldn’t. It’s just kind of mind blowing that someone could make that judgment call about a person’s propensity to abuse based solely on the single descriptor of “gay.” It blows my mind because I’m attracted to other guys, but I can’t think of any situation any way that I would ever take advantage of a kid or any other person for that matter. I don’t even kill bugs; I trap them and carry them outdoors. I was a boy scout sleeping in tents with other guys for years, I was a missionary for two years sharing bedrooms with companions in far off villages, I worked at an elementary school, I’ve had male roommates for a decade, I babysit my nieces and nephews, I’ve showered with other men, changed clothes with them etc and never done anything to take advantage of that. In the MTC, I was one of the shy guys who woke up early to shower when it was empty and the lights were off. When the commenters above try to project their experiences or fears of straight men with young girls and assume that all rules apply equally to a gay man with a boy, their resulting assumptions just feel completely opposite to anything I’ve experienced in reality. As often happens, the metaphors break down in the details. I hope people will judge me based on what I really am–not based on a metaphor or worst case scenario. If the scouts allow gay boys and leaders, I would expect the charter organization to use the same care it always has in selecting and screening leaders and for parents, boys, and other leaders to all be aware or risks and escalate any concerns about a particular individual based on that person’s behavior, not based on a label. There are good programs in place now (youth protection training / two-deep leadership / background checks) to protect boys which seem to be working.
    2) Upholding Morality. I agree with Kaimi that the boy scout definition of “morally straight” does not equal “not gay.” I completely support LDS teachings about morality, outlined in For the Strength of Youth and God Loveth His Children (specifically about same-sex attraction). LDS troops should be able to teach and uphold these values. As a leader, I’ve never done anything but that. Maybe the most painful comment to read above was the one about how gay leaders couldn’t be good role models for boys. I don’t know. I’m far from perfect for sure, but I’m committed like the rest of the good saints out there and I’m following the example of Jesus Christ as best I can and trying to help the young men know Him. He’s a pretty super role model and I’m pretty sure none of us are anywhere close to being like Him but somehow the kids are turning out all right.
    If you’re having a hard time with this, I hope you’ll take some time to try to consider what it’s like growing up in the church with same-sex attraction. I spent my childhood and youth with constant guilt and secrecy even though I never acted on my feelings. I’ve matured and I’m at a better place as far as accepting myself and feeling peace from God and part of that is thanks to evolving or clearer messages from the church, but I still live a guarded life. A huge part of who I am and why I make the choices I do is a secret I keep from all but the closest people in my life (and random bloggers, apparently) because it’s the way we deal with these things in our community. It’s not fun being misunderstood. It’s not moral that I sometimes have to tell half truths so that I don’t scandalize people (so much for “a scout is trustworthy”). It makes me happy to see the church being more willing to talk about the reality of homosexuality and remove some of the stigma. It is awesome that I have told several bishops in a row that I deal with this and they have been completely understanding, welcoming, and given me opportunities to serve. I wish I had heard the message more clearly as a young man that I was not a complete freak and that I was not guilty for having these feelings. I think it’s moral to be intensely compassionate to the few who hurt in quiet desperation with this or any of the many other hidden pains in our midst. All of this media coverage about excluding gay scouts is the type of thing that confused kids like I was hear and internalize. I hope the church will be a voice for change on this issue and make its position clear that “gays” / “those who experience same-sex attraction” are welcome in scouts just like they are welcome at church and in the Priesthood and as missionaries, etc. We can do this without compromising our principles and without acting contemptuous.

  81. Alison Moore Smith on February 7, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Here are scenarios I would try to avoid for my post-pubescent children:

    Girls on sleepovers supervised by heterosexual male adults
    Boys on sleepovers supervised by heterosexual female adults
    Girls on sleepovers supervised by homosexual female adults
    Boys on sleepovers supervised by homosexual male adults
    Girls on sleepovers bunking with heterosexual male peers
    Boys on sleepovers bunking with heterosexual female peers
    Girls on sleepovers bunking with homosexual female peers
    Boys on sleepovers bunking with homosexual male peers

    We can also discuss other uber close contact that might occur in addition to sleepovers and, If you want, we can get into bi-sexual, transgender, hermaphrodite, and all other swirling concerns.

    I know, I know, we want to be super duper tolerant and hip with all possible lifestyles. But in the context of the LDS faith, common sense says to try to avoid the most problematic situations. We each have to decide what that means for our own children, but most of us do decide something.

    But seriously, Rachel, when you actually, in real life, send your 16-year-old son and his buddy on a campout with the a 24-year-old female college physics TA or when you send your 17-year-old twin daughters off to a cabin with the 22-year-old male lifeguard, PLEASE write a post about it!

  82. Rachel Whipple on February 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Alison, I’m all for avoiding situations that I find problematic. There are some guys that I’ve met that send creeper alarm bells ringing for me that _I_ don’t want to be alone around, much less my children. But that’s not related to sexual orientation. All evidence suggests that those guys are hetero.

    My kids are still younger than your scenario; the older ones are 11 and 13. But we have sleepovers where their friends come to our house, or they go to their friends houses. In those cases, the sleepovers are supervised by a heterosexual couple (the other child’s parents). Yes, there is a heterosexual man supervising a sleepover for tween girls! But just like camping for scouts, that guy is not the only adult with the children. I’ve met the parents of my children’s friends and choose to allow my children over there.

    As for real life, I went on mixed gender campouts and trips, supervised by men all the time in my late teens. As an 18 and 19-year old, I regularly camped out with other college students, some married, some not. I was a geology major and field camps where we stayed in tents, hotels and hostels were required. Somehow, BYU was okay with that. Girls bunked with girls, guys bunked with guys, and the professor had a tent to himself.

  83. Dave K on February 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Alison,

    Church policy not only allows but requires heterosexual males to supervise female youth on campouts. It’s called Girls Camp. I’ve done it many times myself. We men are sexually attracted to women, but we someone avoid molesting our young women. Imagine that! We’re not pedofiles. We’re your husbands, brothers, bishops and young men’s leaders.

    Our stake has reasonable procedures to protect the young women. Male leaders sleep in separate quarters and are never alone with a youth (except of course for bishop’s interviews, which are a whole other issue, and which can take place at camp). Also, there are many more female leaders present at the camp than males.

    Were homosexual men to serve as scout leaders I would have no more concern for my boys at camp than I do now for the young women. These leaders would follow scouting requirements of two-deep leadership and no youth would sleep in the same tents as adults (except in the rare circumstance that they are family).

    Regardless of the morality of homosexuality, the fact is that our youth are in the world. They are going to be in contact with homosexuals. In school, in sports, on service outings, and very often in their own families. It’s time we drop the fear of homosexuals and get to know them.

  84. anonymous for this thread on February 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Thank you, Tiago (80). My bad experience was a failure of two deep leadership, of the bishopric to properly assess the commitment of the guy to chastity, and of no background check (the guy was new to the ward but had a history, if they’d have looked). They guy was an immoral liar, immoral for what he did and a liar to get into that position at scout camp.

    With the experiences of people like me, in addition to the Catholic church’s problem with pedophile priests, consciousness of this problem is heightened nowadays. Leadership now takes seriously two deep leadership and the other precautions.

    With someone like you, Tiago, I would’ve been fine as a boy at camp. You are apparently morally straight. It’s the immoral liars who put themselves in a position to abuse the youth through deception that are the danger.

    I think I will have to moderate my view and be in favor of letting all serve as leaders in scouting, as long as they are morally straight, and all prescribed safeguards are in place. I do think there is room for all to serve. And I think BSA could approach it in this nuanced way and get a good amount of acceptance.

  85. ji on February 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

    No one, gay or straight, can DEMAND to be a Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.

    All organizations responsible for selecting a Scoutmaster MUST have the privilege of selecting suitable candidates and rejecting unsuitable candidates. And the definition of suitable and unsuitable must be in the eyes of the selecting organizations. After all, we’re going to sue them for every dollar they have if they pick an unsuitable person.

    The BSA’s position is not WRONG. It can alter its decision based on revisited risk and responsibility assessments. But its position isn’t fundamentally WRONG.

    In all matters related to this issue, I think primarily of adults as Scouting leaders — I have a more patient attitude towards youth members.

  86. Tim J on February 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    “then why in Heaven’s name do we instruct our 12- and 14-year-old girls to go behind closed doors with an adult man (presumably straight) to answer detailed questions about their sex life???”

    When do we instruct 12 and 14 year old girls to answer “detailed questions” about their sex lives?

  87. Steve Smith on February 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I’m came late to the discussion, but I agree with Rachel. I am also disappointed at the rampant homophobia expressed on this board and how many stubbornly hold on to old stereotypes of gay people.

  88. Julie M. Smith on February 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    It’s worth noting that the numerous comments on this thread re people being propositioned by other boys or scout leaders show that the current policy of excluding gays isn’t creating the desired outcome of safe kids. Perhaps if we stopped stigmatizing an entire group of people and focused on actual behaviors and policies, we’d do better.

  89. Alison Moore Smith on February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Rachel, like I said, each parent must decide. I wouldn’t send my teen daughter overnight to a house with only a hetero male supervising. We almost never do sleepovers, because I think they are generally problematic, but I’ve personally seen probably 13 incidents with friends kids involving either a parent or sibling of the child’s friend. Just usually no need for it that I can see and too much risk.

    I also went on the geology campout, but I specifically said I was addressing post-pubescent CHILDREN, not adults. And we have to acknowledge that there is a REASON that those trips prescribed girls bunking with girls and guys bunking with guys — and it IS the (statistically accurate) presumption that the participants will be heterosexual and so sexual contact within those groups won’t be an issue.

    When you mix those with a possible sexual attraction, there are more likely to be sexual activities. Avoiding those combinations tends to reduce them.

  90. Adam G. on February 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I never understand why the inability of humans to achieve perfect norms and guaranteed safety means you can’t pluck the low-hanging fruit. I expect if we were talking gun control, some of the arguments would be seamlessly swapped.

  91. Alison Moore Smith on February 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Dave K:

    Church policy not only allows but requires heterosexual males to supervise female youth on campouts. It’s called Girls Camp.

    I’ve been both a ward and stake camp director. In my experience the “priesthood leaders” don’t supervise the female youth camp (actually called “Young Women Camp” if it matters (at least last time I served)) at all. Rather, they sit in a remote cabin or tent on the perimeter to defend against bears and creepers (or whatever). In the cases when I’ve been in camp leadership, the men weren’t allowed in the general YW areas at all, having meals separately, etc. My husband has often been one of those men and they were specifically provided with a box of “stuff to do” — that included puzzles, games, reading material, and snacks — because they could not be involved in the actual camp experience.

    Even if your camp is run differently, the guidelines are clear. But I ask you to name the stake where men are actually supervising or otherwise intimately involved with young women in a church camp setting — at the very least without it being away from sleeping/personal areas, without adult women involved, etc.

    I don’t think anyone has made the case that adult men (of whatever age) should never be in the general proximity of nearly adult youth of the gender to which they are attracted. Rather, a case has been made that some situations (like overnight camps) can be problematic.

    I’ve done it many times myself. We men are sexually attracted to women, but we someone avoid molesting our young women. Imagine that! We’re not pedofiles.

    Seriously, Dave. This has been addressed repeatedly and you choose to ignore it.

    I was fully grown and developed physically when I was in sixth grade. As a performer I played adult ingenue roles from the time I was 13. Kind of awkward when guys in their 20s are playing my boyfriends, fiances, lovers.

    Other times I pretended to be older because to me it was a fun game to see how old people thought I was. The summer after my sophomore year in high school, my sister (who was nearly 20), took me to BYU and I attended all her classes with her that summer. People assumed the reverse was true, asked me what my major was and asked her what grade she was in. (She was not happy. But I’m adopted and I guess my birth family has early maturation genes.)

    To lump a guy who is sexually attracted to a 17-year-old who looks and acts like an adult in the same group with a pedophile who prays on pre-pubescent second graders is disingenuous. In fact, to pretend that an adult who is attracted to an adult-looking teen is somehow perverted and abnormal, is as well.

    In addition, to act as if taking reasonable precautions to avoid problematic sexual situations is synonymous with accusing everyone on earth of being a pedophile or sexual miscreant is equally duplicitous.

    I think we both know the differences.

    Regardless of the morality of homosexuality, the fact is that our youth are in the world. They are going to be in contact with homosexuals. In school, in sports, on service outings, and very often in their own families. It’s time we drop the fear of homosexuals and get to know them.

    Again, Dave, you conflate two issues. One of my daughters is a ballroom dancer, another is a music/dance/theater major, another goes to a performing arts high school. Alert: they have tons of homosexual friends, it IS part of the arts culture. I have an “adopted son” who is gay (and LDS).

    Saying I wouldn’t want my son to sleep over with a homosexual male friend is no more “phobic” of anything than the fact that I wouldn’t want my daughter to sleep over with a heterosexual male friend.

    If we are a church that preaches the value of chastity (and we are), then it’s just common sense to avoid problematic situations. And our church policy is filled with rules that do just that. To act as if the same rules can’t apply to homosexual members without being in “fear” of them, indicates that you are responding to popular culture more than logic.

    Take care.

  92. stephen hardy on February 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    For what its worth, Tiago’s carefully worded and well written post is, for me, the final word. I can’t imagine that anyone feels that they have anything significant to add that his post doesn’t address either directly or indirectly.

  93. stephen hardy on February 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    The Church’s and the BSA’s two-leader policy is important. No male leader, or female leader, should ever be alone with a youth of any gender. Even when driving and picking up kids for activities, I never allowed that as a leader. It protects everyone: It protects the youth from potential predators. It protects the leader from accidental misunderstandings and the consequent devastationn of public character, and it protects the institution, church or BSA, or hockey team, or whatever.

    If a YM leader, or a YW leader feels that they need to have an intimate face-to-face chat, they can do it in a semi-public setting: a classroom with a window on it; under a tree away from the main group, in a corner of the cultural hall, etc.

  94. wowbagger on February 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    anonymous for this thread

    First, I am so very sorry to hear of your abuse. This is sad on so many levels.

    I appreciate your courage to comment in the forum and I loved your comment

    “I think I will have to moderate my view”

    So often we do not see dialogue but sniping on the internet. It is refreshing so see someone who is actually willing to read the arguments and consider them, and change their minds. This is particularly powerful for someone who has had a personal experience, whereas many of us are commenting in the abstract.

    Thank you for your comments

  95. Steve Smith on February 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    #90, I can’t understand why you can’t get over the groundless idea that having openly gay people involved in the BSA somehow spells an increased risk of pedophilia. There have never been gay people involved in scouting before this? Oh yeah, and the gun control issue, that’s like comparing apples to oranges.

  96. Jeremiah S on February 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Neal, Tiago,

    You’re not the only ones. Although gay, I have also been entrusted by my bishop to work with the young men. It was an honor to work with the youth. My father was a great scoutmaster, and I felt privileged to share my time and talents with the boys in the ward.

    No one got molested.

    I am glad that it’s ward leaders on the ground who make these calls, rather than many of you.

  97. Sharee on February 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    What we all need to do is get rid of the fear. We are afraid that gay men will molest our sons. We are afraid that straight men will molest our daughters. The fact of the matter is: EVIL MEN MOLEST OUR CHILDREN, and it doesn’t have anything to do with their sexual orientation. I don’t know that gay men necessarily want to sexually abuse young boys. Maybe some do, but a lot of abuse of boys is done by heterosexual men. And women sometimes abuse our girls–it’s not just men. The 2-deep leadership rule should ensure that anyone who is willing to serve is allowed to serve, gay or straight.

  98. Sharee on February 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    I should have said that EVIL MEN AND WOMEN ABUSE OUR CHILDREN. Sexual abuse is not limited to men.

  99. h_nu on February 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Liberals tend to think and speak in terms of abstract causes. In this case: there are very REAL individuals who have been molested by men who are attracted to other males. Whether or not they self-identify as gay is not as important as whether they are attracted to other males. While hearing the viewpoint of SSA individuals who have served in scouting is an important viewpoint, the victims of sexual assault are far more important than those arguing for abstract causes. Protect the children from abusers, regardless of how they self-identify. But any man who molests another male (boy, teen, or adult) is gay. Not all gays are molesters.

  100. jennifer reuben on February 8, 2013 at 2:42 am

    This thread is getting to be more about misunderstandings of homosexuality than the subject. I wish the two deep leadership rule was in place everywhere in all youth program. It would improve not only safety but many other issues associated with youth programs. Unfortunately , that is not reality many places. most comments have focused on youth program however, please remember that BSA starts at age 5 with the tiger program although the church waits until 8 and as was pointed out the program is co-ed outside the LDS troops. Any position statement by the BSA must include all varieties of scouting.

  101. Neal on February 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Jeremiah,

    That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. There are more of us serving than many realize.

  102. wreddyornot on February 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Liberals tend to think. You’d do better, in my opinion, to stop there h_nu. And not SHOUT. And it’d help, it seems to me, if you sorted out your logic a tad.

  103. Kevin L on February 9, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I’m glad that the BSA has postponed a decision. That way the Spirit has at least three months to soften members hearts to the point where they can accept doctrine.

    On the other hand, it’s very sad that so many faithful saints will continue to get the message that no matter what they do, they aren’t good enough. At least for a little longer.

  104. Sharee on February 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Yesterday morning was our stake Book of Mormon class. Our teacher often begins class by bringing up current news of the Church. And he brought up the BSA situation. It is difficult to understand how the reaction of the class members so totally removed the Spirit from the room. The teacher had to ask the class president to call on someone to say another prayer before he could continue with the lesson. I felt the coldness of class members to the topic and was ashamed. There is no room for bigotry of any sort in the Church. I am glad there are enlightened bishops who will call men who may have same-sex-attraction but who are also worthy priesthood members to work in scouting. And I am sure the Church also does not forbid boys who may have same-sex-attraction from participation. As long as the person is committed to keeping his baptismal covenants, there should be no problem. I would hate to see a boy who is worthy to bless or pass the sacrament on Sundays be denied the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of scouting with his buddies, just because of his sexual orientation –what a way to drive a young man out of the church, perhaps even to suicide. I agree with #103, and I pray the Spirit will soften the hearts of the members by the time the BSA makes its decision. Ask yourselves this question: would Christ deny worthy priesthood holders such opportunities to serve or participate because of their sexual orientation? I think not.

  105. Kevin L on February 11, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Some additional thoughts over at North Star’s blog.

    http://www.northstarlds.org/blog

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