You do, I suppose, appreciate that the Boy Scouts of America – the BSA has yet to realize its inevitable journey into dysfunction with its recent reversal on policy regarding admittance of "openly" gay scouts. I hate to say it but the BSA leadership's new membership guidelines are about as close to initiating a self-destruct sequence you will find. I don't see any other way around that.
Let's be clear, please. I am in no way suggesting that there have never been gay Boy Scouts before this policy change, although I'm sure that there are any number of individuals who will offer a roll call for all the famously gay men who have achieved Eagle rank without bringing down the whole house. That's a fairly peripheral perspective that really dumbs down and needlessly impedes the essential philosophical debate regarding the future of scouting in America. If homosexuals make up three percent of the population…yes, three percent…then it is logical to assume that three percent of the current Boy Scout membership is gay as well…although, since many scouts below Second Class have yet to hit puberty, we're hovering along the perimeter of semantics.
It's not the actuality of gay young men within the ranks that will ultimately cripple the BSA. It's the "openly" part that's going to do this organization in. "Openly" brings a whole new dimension to the matter at hand because the Boy Scouts of America is not like its sister organization which functions primarily to sell cookies so that they can properly prepare young women for the benefits of communism and the importance of access to a thorough and timely abortion.
BSA has a different mission. It seeks to teach young men the art of leadership, self-reliance and virtuous living. I seriously want you to think about that because the idea of compassion…that's the term that BSA leadership used earlier this month in justifying their policy reversal…for boys who have declared their homosexuality sounds great on paper but practical implementation is an entirely different matter.
How exactly is it going to work? Yes, scouts have community service projects. Yes, they have fundraising events. Yes, they work toward badges, but boys don't move up the ranks easily and they cannot earn the prestigious Order of the Arrow unless they go camping. Frequently.
That's the issue. Camping will be the problem because camping is what the Boy Scouts do. Ask any mother of an active scout how many times her washing machine has been overstuffed with sleeping bags and muddy clothes this year. You might be surprised. It's not once or twice a year. It's once a month. In the rain, in the snow, in the sweltering heat, we're talking a minimum of twelve times a year that active scouts are out for at least the weekend.
So let's start by considering the physical obstacles surrounding camping for the "openly" gay scout as well as the other members of his patrol...because, let's try to remember, that the openness of his homosexuality affects everyone in his troop. The BSA uses the buddy system to ensure the safety and well-being of its members. Parent volunteers may tent by themselves but boys are required to maintain two scouts to a tent…three if there is an odd man out, but boys are not permitted to tent on their own except in the case of an Ordeal induction for the Order of the Arrow where candidates undergo a vow of silence, spend a night sleeping alone under the stars, receive scant food and perform arduous labor.
Scouts are also (obviously) not allowed to tent with adults…including their own parents.
So in addressing the safety concerns of an "openly" gay scout, can someone explain with whom he will tent? Does he get paired with another "openly" gay scout? Does that sound like an optimal solution or a lawsuit waiting to happen? Does he get paired with a heterosexual scout? What if there are no heterosexual scouts that are comfortable in that situation? Or are we now in the business of telling young people that "no" means "no" unless you are a heterosexual boy?
Do you require an "openly" gay scout to share a tent with his parent and if so, is this a form of discrimination? Does the BSA change the rules and allow gay scouts to tent by themselves which will leave them more vulnerable in bad weather situations or to sexual predators which is why such a policy was put in place to begin with?
You see, homosexuality is a fact of life and a young person who is developing in his sexuality deserves the understanding and compassion of society. That understanding and compassion ought to be for homosexuals and for heterosexuals alike, by the way, but since the US continues to live under the misconception that heterosexual men are the cause of all the problems in the world, we're just not conditioned to consider the feelings of maturing, heterosexual boys.
The label "openly" gay indicates a person who has achieved a candidness and comfort level regarding his homosexuality. Great for him, but in an environment where sixth to twelfth graders are being asked to focus on God, country and purity of mind, body and spirit; we are introducing a dynamic that takes us well away from the BSA's directive by placing the general focus on one person's sexual orientation and all the empathetic reflections that it requires.
Now, having achieved the platitudinal devotion to the plight of "openly" gay men, let's think about how this will likely play out and let's use the Catholic Church as our template. Perhaps it appears that we are comparing apples and oranges here, but we are dealing with another male-centered occupation which sequesters and quarters its seminarians together to instruct them on faith and the priesthood. Who knows, we might learn something from the situation.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Catholic Church was faced with a new and evolving question. Even though the Catholic faith proclaims homosexuality to be a sin, could the Church allow gay men to become priests if they promised to remain celibate which is the vow of a priest anyway? It was concluded by Church leadership that this would be a fair compromise and so gay men were admitted into the priesthood with not nearly enough consideration for consequence of that decision.
Now, this may come as a shock to many, but there are a fair number of people within the gay community who are a) resentful of the traditional Catholic teachings on sexuality and b) militantly activist against any organization that would hint at any immorality within the gay lifestyle. So naturally, by the late 80s and into the 90s, Catholic seminaries were in complete disarray.
Let's start with the fact that seminaries were graduating gay priests at around fifty percent which contrasts the three percent of homosexuals within America's general population. Was this because heterosexual men were simply not interested the celibate life offered by the priesthood? There was, yes, devaluation in celibacy as a direct result of the sexual revolution, but the attrition rate outpaces probability.
Another contributing factor was that, with such a high rate of openly gay men entering the seminary with the intention of shifting the Church's culture, conservative, heterosexual men were disenfranchised and they ultimately left without graduating. That produced a very liberal Church leadership that no longer bothered to preach or even acknowledge historic teachings on sexuality. In some cases, seminaries became outright brothels of sexual activity in direct hostility to the vows of celibacy that these men took. Those theological institutions sometimes aggressively discriminated against men with religious views that were in keeping with traditional orthodoxy and produced mostly progressive minded priests who refused to comment on birth control and abortion, refused to stand up for traditional marriage, refused to stand up against Catholic politicians who promote either or both issues with legislation, refused to take a stand against the pedophilia scandals that arose from the Church's anything goes attitude.
With that fundamental change in place, it was just a matter of time before the laity caught on to the hypocrisy and outright heterodoxy of Church leadership.
Now, say what you will against the Catholic Church. Even non-Catholics should witness the implosion of the Church with vested interest because the same fate will come to the newly modernized US military within two generations. That's all the time it will take for heterosexual men to throw up their hands in aggravation as they watch discipline and leadership erode into an overpriced community outreach program. People will scratch their heads and wonder why heterosexual men no longer volunteer for military service. The government will have no choice but to reinstate the draft which is what progressive politicians have been angling for over the last 25 years.
But the long term forecast for the Boy Scouts of America won't even be that encouraging. Gay and Lesbian organizations have heralded the decision of the BSA to allow "openly" gay boys to participate in scouting as a great first step on a long journey towards the organization's full acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. These groups are not known for resting on their laurels. They have slowed their march against this historic organization just long enough to acknowledge their victory.
But let's be frank. Unlike the priesthood or the military, it's not going to take two generations for parents to recognize that there are other methods for teaching their sons about tying square knots. Unfortunately, that will be quite beside the point because this is not what the Boy Scouts of America is about. The mission of the BSA is to assist young men in developing academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership skills, and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives. It's about teaching boys about the responsibilities of becoming honorable men.
As our society perseveres in its destruction of men-centered organizations such as the BSA, we might want to ask ourselves…are we really better, stronger and more successful and virtuous without them? I suppose your opinion on that is as good as mine and we'll have our answer to that question soon enough.