In a landmark vote by the national leadership council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the vote was reported to be 61% in favor of allowing openly gay young men to join the Boy Scouts. Of the 1,400 delegates, the final vote was 757 for ending the ban, and 475 against allowing gay youth to be admitted to the Boy Scouts.
The main fear of the public with regard to admitting gay boys into the Boy Scouts is that there will be an increase in the number of boys that become homosexual because of contact with other homosexual members. The official Boy Scout defense of the policy excluding gays was that being gay violated the boy scout creed regarding serving God.
Wayne Perry, the president of the Boy Scouts of America clearly stated that there is no link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of children in an article dated May 22, 2013 in USA Today. You can read the full content of the USA Today article at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/22/boy-scouts-president-let-in-gay-boys/2351907.
“Some have voiced concerns that this proposal could put children at risk of being abused. The BSA makes no connection between sexual abuse and homosexuality. The nation’s leading experts agree. The BSA has stringent polices that protect the safety and privacy of youth and has always worked to ensure that it is a supportive and safe environment.”
Despite the studies by experts and the statement by Wayne Perry, the restriction against gay men and women serving as leaders at all levels of scouting will be maintained. It is expected that continued pressure will be made to end the banning of openly gay people from acting as scout leaders. The scouts have tried to keep issues of sexual improprieties of existing leaders quiet and out of the public eye as much as possible.
Using similar logic, there is fear that having gay or lesbian scout leaders will result in an increase in molestation of the scouts by these leaders. There are strict rules in place that specify the rules for leaders to be in physical contact with scouts, and these are enforced to the maximum extent possible now.
Gregory Herek Ph.D. at UC Davis reported in his blog the results of a study done in Denver to analyze the sexual orientation of child molesters over a one year period. You can find the link at http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html.
“Other researchers have taken different approaches, but have similarly failed to find a connection between homosexuality and child molestation. Dr. Carole Jenny and her colleagues reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the sexually abused children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children’s hospital during a one-year period (from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992). The molester was a gay or lesbian adult in fewer than 1% in which an adult molester could be identified – only 2 of the 269 cases (Jenny et al., 1994).”
Nearly 70,000 of the 100,000 different Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops are sponsored by religious groups according to an article by Electa Draper of the Denver Post that was published on May 22, 2013.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints has endorsed the change in policy, as has the National Jewish Commission on Scouting. The United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society has formally declared that they seek and end to sexual discrimination in scouting.
The National Catholic Council on Scouting has declined to make a statement regarding the change in policy by the Boy Scouts, but has reaffirmed its opposition to any homosexual relationships.
The Baptist Church and many non-affiliated fundamentalist churches have threatened to end sponsorship of scouting groups if the ban on gay scouts is lifted. It remains to be seen how the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America will react to individual local organizations that continue to prohibit membership for openly gay youth.
The spiritualist churches in Columbus are predominately filled by older parishioners, and no spiritualist church is known to sponsor a Boy Scout troop. These churches formally declare that they are open to all people without regard to race, religion, or sexual preference. The Golden Rule is a fundamental principle of spiritualism, and sexual preference is not an issue. We applaud the change in the Boy Scout policy, and look forward to it being extended to the leadership in the scouting troops.