Archive for Thursday, May 30, 2013

Opinion: Scout decision not really a milestone

May 30, 2013


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 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.

It happened with racism, happened with sexism, happened with anti-Semitism, all of which conservatism loudly and proudly embraced long after the rest of us came to see them as evil and wrong. It is happening now with homophobia.

The problem for the Scouts and other conservative groups (paging the GOP!) is not simply that this change has been definitive (a record 59 percent of all Americans now find gay and lesbian relationships morally acceptable, according to a Gallup poll). It is not simply that this change has been swift (12 years ago, only 40 percent of us approved). No, it is also, maybe even primarily, that this change has been driven by young people, a whopping 70 percent of whom, ages 18 to 29, now believe same-sex marriage should be legal — up an also whopping 18 percentage points just since 2010.


The momentum and trajectory are unmistakable: Gay rights are the future. The organization that fails to understand this sabotages its own future credibility. So there is little reason to celebrate the Scouts’ half-hearted attempt to compromise with change. Might as well attempt to compromise with a locomotive.

Last week’s decision is a mere way station en route to a destination that seems increasingly inevitable. One day, and it probably won’t be all that long, the Scouts will concede this. On that day, this absurd decision will fall and scouting will be open to all boys and men regardless of sexual orientation.

That will be a milestone worth clapping for.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on


Abdu Omar 4 years, 10 months ago

How many parents of straight boys will worry or pull their boys from scouting? I see this as an opportunity for gay boys, and it would be stronger for gay men, to push their sexuality on unprepared young impressionable boys who aren't in tune to this social dilema. I call it a dilema because we really don't know what will happen and because I believe that God wouldn't create a homosexual and then condemn it in the messages He sent to earth, we are headed in the wrong direction. I personally do not care what your "sexual orientation" is, but it isn't worth bringing up. Do your job, live your life the way you want and don't push it on others.

Maddy Griffin 4 years, 10 months ago

Just because a man is gay,it doesn't make him a pedophile. As far as "pushing their lifestyle" on folks, they are gay-NOT Jehovah's wintnesses.In all my years and all my dealings with gay friends and family, I have NEVER seen anyone try to recruit someone into the gay lifestyle.

MarcoPogo 4 years, 10 months ago

"I have NEVER seen anyone try to recruit someone into the gay lifestyle."

The Village People actively recruited men to join the Navy.

50YearResident 4 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like Leonard wants to be a Scout Leader.

Linda and Bill Houghton 4 years, 10 months ago

There are two problems with your post.

Gays are not out to convert others to homosexuality. They are only interested in finding other gays when it is time to "mate". They don't push it on others. It is well established that gays are born as gays.

Your believing that God is what the Judeo-Christian religion has taught you is a mistake. This and other religions are creations of the human mind to answer questions that could not be answered. They are generally fairly good moral codes but have nothing to do with reality.

Linda and Bill Houghton 4 years, 10 months ago

Whatever you want to call it. The various states are fighting over gay marriage.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

Most gays are loving, social people just as most straight people. They like to go out, have fun, get to know others. They date, live together, want to get married and have lives together in a home.

I imagine that homosexual couples, be they men or women, go though the same ups and downs as straight couples.

No, I am not a lesbian, just someone who can try to emphasize with others.

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