BJ and I were talking about the kids' activities recently, and he mentioned how he's looking forward to being Jack's Boy Scouts troop leader in a few years. I'm going to be Mary Grace's troop's co-leader next year, so the Scouts have been on our minds. BJ was a Boy Scout growing up, and made it almost all the way to Eagle Scout (which is a very big deal) before his troop disbanded. I, on the other hand, was only a Girl Scout for a couple of years. I remember bridging to Girl Scouts, but I don't remember continuing very long after that.
Both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have been in the news recently because of their policies. The Boy Scouts have maintained an anti-homosexual position, drawing fire from liberals, while the Girl Scouts have come under fire by conservatives and religious folks for their stance on reproductive rights and for being "too liberal" when it comes to homosexuality. An Indiana lawmaker even called the Girl Scouts a dangerous, radical organization.
If the Girl Scouts are radical, they're radical in ways that happen to align with my own personal beliefs about human rights. The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, do not. Back to our conversation about Scouts, I said, "I hope the Boy Scouts moderate their stance on homosexuality in the next couple of years, because I would have a hard time supporting them right now."
That's when BJ brought up an excellent point that I haven't seen anywhere else in this debate. He said, "There is no organization, other than maybe the Catholic church, that is as vulnerable to accusations of impropriety as the Boy Scouts."
"Homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to be pedophiles," I reminded him.
"I know that," he said, and then he reminded me that we aren't just talking about little boys... We're also talking about 16, 17, and 18-year-olds on campouts, in close quarters. He went on to explain that allowing gay members and leaders would make the the Boy Scouts, the troops, the leaders, and the boys themselves vulnerable to accusations, lawsuits, and all kinds of other bad news. Accusations of sexual impropriety alone can be incredibly damaging to the person who is accused.
There's a difference between the way we perceive male and female sexuality in our culture. Boys and men are perceived as being unable to control their urges, while girls and women are seen as generally having greater control or having weaker urges. I don't think the stereotype is true, but maybe the difference in our culture's perception of male vs. female sexuality accounts for the difference between the Girl Scouts' and the Boy Scouts' policies?
If that's the case, then maybe the Boy Scouts should look to the Girl Scouts as a model of how to create policies and practices that protect scouts while still allowing participation from all kinds of people. Maybe they should look beyond the stereotypes of men, boys, and homosexuals and try to see the real people who are affected by the policies they maintain.
I am writing as an individual, and my views and opinions are my own. They are not meant to be representative of the Girl Scouts in any way. I haven't led a single meeting yet, so I am not any sort of an authority on any Girl Scouts policies or practices. All I know of their positions is what I've read in the news.