Let’s be clear, the policy debate you’re currently having ~ or, more accurately, currently hiding from ~ is not about whether to continue your ban on gays in the Boy Scouts. The debate you’re currently having is about whether to continue your ban on honesty and integrity within the Boy Scouts.
The simple truth is this: there always have been gay scouts and there will always be gay scouts. You can not ban them. All you can do is enforce a policy that forces them to lie about who they are.
And on this issue of honesty, you have decided not to decide. At least not right now. In the statement you made to the press you called this an issue with a great deal of “complexity” and said that “the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.”
Those are the words of cowards. Cowards afraid to upset anyone. Well, Boy Scouts, it’s too late for that. Someone is going to be upset. For decades, this debate was one-sided, giving it the sheen of common sense, of fact. There was only one group to upset: the misinformed ignorant propagaters of hatred. LGBT voices remained hidden and silent. Silent in our lives. Silent in our families. Silent in our communities. Silent in the world.
That is no longer the case. In greater and greater numbers, we are no longer willing to accept the role of invisible man, invisible woman, invisible child. We are no longer willing to sit back and let the policies and attitudes of discrimination run rampant without a rebuttal. Without a strong, clear fight.
There are two voices now ~ the historically silent voices of those who oppose LGBT bigotry and the historically hysterical voices of those who endorse it, pray for it, lie about it and worship at its feet.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was not a scout. I have no ties to the organization whatsoever. But I can tell you for a fact that the debate here is not whether to admit gay scouts, the debate is over how you will treat the gay scouts who are serving now and who will serve in the future. Because gay scouts are already there. How can I know this, never having been a scout? I know this because my husband was a scout. I know this because we are everywhere. In every organization. At every meeting. In every workplace, church and family. We exist. I don’t know of anyone, be they pro or anti-bigotry, who would disagree with that fact.
It seems to me that a basic tenet of scouting is honesty and integrity and yet you are currently teaching each and every one of your scouts ~ gay, straight, bi, whatever ~ that lying is not only acceptable, it is necessary. It seems to me that the religious right only believes in honesty when it suits them, for they would have our gay children grow up in a world where lying is a necessity. They would have our straight children grow up in a world where they are forced to lie to protect a friend from the repercussions of their honesty. And, most disturbingly, the religious right tosses honesty out the window completely in any conversation regarding what role gay people should have in society. At that point, they have no issue whatsoever with lying, with discarding science, with jettisoning their own experience of their own sexuality and with equating pedophilia to a sexual orientation ~ a dangerous and disturbing connection that always leads me to wonder about the sexual maturity of the person doing the equating. If they can’t tell the difference between consent and rape, then it is they who need to be investigated and not left alone with children.
The bottom line, Boy Scouts, is that you already have gay people in your ranks. You always have and you always will. So the question is not whether or not to ban gay people. The question is whether or not to ban honesty.
Ian Roger Rosen