What change might look like

Inclusive Scouting Patch

Last week we filled out surveys from the Boy Scouts of America about proposed “membership standards” changes that would lift the official ban on gay scouts and adults. With my active volunteer work in scouting and my gay daughter and daughter-in-law, I’m in the middle of it. Towelroad (self-described as “a site with homosexual tendencies”) has posted an accurate copy of the questions I was asked, more or less (the scenarios were renumbered). Towelroad doesn’t comment on the survey, but lets it speak for itself.

[Update 3/19/13 – Slate published a piece claiming that the survey is biased towards changing the policy. The Dallas Voice, a GLBT publication, has also published a copy of the survey.]

And yes, the survey may be the epitome of political incorrectness. But this is what change looks like if you’re going to carry on conversations instead of just shouting at each other.

The more I talk to people about this subject, the broader range of opinions I find. There are a lot of people in the BSA who fall in different categories on the subject, too. I’ve been surprised to talk to otherwise liberal-minded people who are ambivalent about openly gay male leaders in scout troops, or tent-sharing between a gay and straight scout. The survey results will be very interesting to see.

I hope the BSA realizes that the survey results must be shared with the general public. They’ve set things up so that the few-hundred members of the BSA National Council must vote on the decision, and the survey is essential input to that decision. There are too many people involved to avoid a leak. If there’s an intentional bias in the survey, people will know.

The survey didn’t go to everyone – my wife and I each received one as scouting volunteers, but my son (an adult volunteer, West Fellow, and Eagle recipient) did not receive one. I found a link from the survey firm that appears to request surveys for registered members of the BSA. I don’t know if it really works – I’ve heard from people who tried it but got no survey.

I could (and will) write pages of my own observations on this subject. For now, I’ll just say that everyone, gay or straight, has countless opportunities to show themselves as moral and ethical people, and as people with appropriate self control. That’s what we need from good role models and what we look for in model scouts. Criminal statistics show that a lot of child abuse is performed by apparently heterosexual perpetrators. It’s not the preference that matters, it’s the moral and ethical sense. It’s self control.

One thought on “What change might look like”

  1. Years ago, I talked with my mother about homosexuality, and how my own attitudes toward it had changed. (We had some history to bring to it, as one of my scoutmasters had to be removed for inappropriate behavior with the kids, though not with me.) Her primary concern was protecting kids, and when I pointed out that pedephilia and homosexuality were separate issues, she was able to travel along with me for a while longer. But then she asked if I really wanted gay teachers in our schools. Is that who I wanted children to be looking up to? My response was to ask, don’t you want positive role models for gay kids, too? She hadn’t thought of it that way, but now could. Once you stop defining homosexuality as a moral flaw in itself, a great deal changes.

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