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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hold your applause. As milestones go, this one is disappointing.

It is, at best, half a milestone. Or a down payment on a milestone. If you are of a more cynical bent, you might even call it an effort to forestall a milestone.

Whatever you call it, last week’s decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay Scouts, but not openly gay Scout leaders, to join, is unlikely to please or appease either side of the gay rights struggle. Predictably, that shrinking coterie of individuals for whom homosexuality and Satanism are synonymous greeted the decision with howls of anger and pain. Matt Barber, an attorney and blogger, accused the Scouts of having “betrayed its own constituency, mission, oath and law.” John Stemberger, an Eagle Scout and anti-gay activist, predicted the Scouts will “probably be destroyed” by this decision.

For the record, the Girl Scouts have no policy limiting lesbian involvement. Indeed, according to its website, Girl Scouts of the USA has embraced diversity and inclusion from the beginning, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt that group any: It has 3.2 million members and recently celebrated its 101st anniversary. So Stemberger’s prediction that the boys are doomed for doing what the girls have done for years seems nonsensical at best.

But again, there is little reason this should be celebrated by the rest of us, either. The Boy Scouts’ decision to split the difference — allow gay boys, ban gay men — does not exactly smell of Solomonic wisdom. Rather, it is marked by reasoning that is cockamamie even if taken on its own terms.

If, for example, you buy the notion there is something about male homosexuality that renders men unfit to be leaders, why doesn’t that same flaw render boys unfit to be followers? And if you buy the idiotic canard that every gay male is a pedophile in waiting, then how do you countenance allowing gay teenagers as old as 17 access to boys as young as 10?

Worse, what kind of message does all of this send gay boys? You’re acceptable until you aren’t?

It is, of course, a mistake to seek logic here. This isn’t about logic, but about a conservative group doing what conservative groups always do when social change comes. Meaning, they bring up the rear, the caboose on the freedom train lurching belatedly to where the rest of us have already been.

  • dtgraham

    Good for America for doing this. I understand Leonard’s restrained applause on this but I once heard it said that America moves at a glacial pace on most social issues, yet it always gets there in the end, in it’s own way at it’s own pace. There’s probably a lot of truth to that. Seems to be in the American character…progressive fairness at a comfortable pace. Look at the acceptance of gay marriage on a State by State basis, and then compare that to what’s happening in France right now. I’m very surprised at the French on this, given their attitudes on most other things

    I would just caution anyone looking at the B.S. websites set up on this by the political right. They all point to the drop in scouting numbers in Canada after that country made the scouts drop all references to sexual orientation, religion, and gender for both scouts and leaders decades ago. Canadian scouts and leaders are co-ed and can be gay atheists without a problem. Membership in the scouts in Canada have dropped by 73% since 1965 but the decline started long before any of those changes. It has also dropped precipitously in the U.S. in that same time period. Scouting has just become an anachronism of the past, let’s face it. Learning to tie knots, build bonfires without matches, and pitch tents isn’t exactly at the top of many young people’s wish list these days.

    On a side note, I was noticing that the American Boy Scouts do ban atheists and agnostics. Atheists and agnostics? Really? Were they anticipating some future quasi-spiritual clash of abstract ideals between the two groups? “Go to hell you disbelieving a–holes!” “Up yours you uncertain bast–ds!”

    • Sand_Cat

      The pace of progressive change is only “comfortable” to those who aren’t victims (dare I say “who are beneficiaries”?) of what needs changing

  • wjca

    The decision may (indeed, does) leave a lot to be desired. But I would also argue that some motion on the issue is far better than no motion at all. Especially considering the number of “conservative” (actually radical reactionary) groups who limit themselves to screaming NO! on any and all issues.

    Yes, push for the Boy Scouts to move into the 21st century on this. But be glad that they are, however glacially slowly and hesitantly, at least heading in the tight direction.

  • EDMOND, OK—Following weeks of deliberation during which he carefully considered what sort of life he wanted for himself, 4-month-old baby Nathan Reynolds announced Wednesday that he had decided to be homosexual.
    “I thought about it for a long time,” said Reynolds, who took into account both how his peers would view him and how he would be treated by society at large before determining his sexual orientation. “I weighed the pros and cons of homosexuality, and ultimately I decided that it was the right thing for me.”
    The 16-week-old infant, who admitted that he was fully aware of the negative consequences associated with choosing to be attracted to members of the same sex, claimed that he was now prepared to go through life struggling with rejection, intolerance, and unprovoked hostility.
    In addition, Reynolds confirmed that he opted for homosexuality despite very serious concerns about sustaining permanent psychological damage from a lack of acceptance from family members and fearing the stigma of publicly displaying affection for another man.
    “Of course, I wasn’t certain of anything at first, but when I finally made up my mind to be gay, I was conscious of the fact that loved ones would repeatedly tell me that I’m not normal,” said the 4-month-old baby who made the decision before reaching the developmental milestone of head control. “Even though I’ll be subjected to ignorant homophobic attitudes and countless anti-gay slurs, the choice of homosexuality really works for me.”
    Reynolds, like all infants when they reach the ages between 2 and 10 months old, was intent on determining his sexual orientation, emphasizing that his decision was “just a lifestyle choice and nothing more.” While every baby reportedly makes a commitment to being heterosexual, homosexual, or transgender, Reynolds revealed that each infant has different reasons for their decision, explaining that gay felt like a good fit for his personality and disposition.
    “My selection of a sexual preference was the product of a great deal of self-reflection,” said the newly homosexual infant, who added that he reached his decision completely on his own and was not influenced by his genetic makeup or any circumstances beyond his control. “If my sexuality means I get bullied at school, or that I end up feeling unloved and shunned for my entire life, or that I don’t receive equal protection under the law, then obviously that will be my own fault.”
    Reynolds reportedly acknowledged that heterosexuality would have had some benefits, such as the universal right to marriage, the ability to adopt children without fear of scrutiny, and the feeling of being validated by his religion. However, the 16-week-old infant said that, in the end, he had decided to identify with a small minority that lacks many basic rights.
    “Who knows? Maybe I’ll even change my mind at some point,” said Reynolds, explaining that he can, at any time, freely choose whom he is attracted to. “If I wake up one day and don’t want to be gay anymore, then I can just switch to being heterosexual, easy as that.”
    “After all, it’s not like I’m stuck with this decision for the rest of my life,” Reynolds added. “I may even want to join the Boy Scouts…or maybe the Girl Scouts, who knows?”.