In 2014, the Boy Scouts of America finally began to allow openly gay youths into its organization. As of today, no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. It was a great victory indeed.
But what about openly gay adults? They are still not accepted into the organization to serve as scout leaders. That might soon be changing. On May 21, Robert Gates -- president of the Boy Scouts of America -- made a speech at the organization's national conference in Atlanta, calling for the laws of the scouts to change to allow openly gay adults to participate and be members.
Unfortunately, that announcement was met with a lot of hatred, bigotry and discrimination from some conservatives. Take for example Christian Right leader Matt Barber, who believes if gay adults become scout leaders they'll molest your children. What kind of screwed up logic is that? Since when does being gay also make you a child molester? Gay Scout leaders are volunteers helping children, just like heterosexual scout leaders. They are not hurting anyone.
For Mr. Barber and others who share his belief, what's next? Maybe we should fire all teachers in our nation's school systems that identify as LGBT. After all, imagine the harm they could inflict on our children.
Then there are people like Michael Brown, Ph.D., who authored Can You Be Gay and Christian? He believes, "If the Boy Scouts accept openly homosexual leaders, they will cease to be a positive moral force in the lives of American boys." He continues, "This opens the door for sexual predators, a real danger, and it opens the door for gay boys to be flirting with straight boys under the auspices of the Boy Scouts."
This has got to be some of the most delusional thinking I've seen in a long time. First of all, why can't an openly gay adult be a positive role model in the life of a youth? So you mean to tell me if you have a top-tier CEO who is extremely philanthropic, serves on many boards of directors, loves to give back to his community, and is extremely intelligent but gay, he can't be a force for good in the life of a child? What nonsense!
And furthermore to Mr. Brown's point, again, being gay doesn't make you a child molester. And if God forbid, and I mean really now, if a gay youth flirted with a straight boy, so what? Gay or straight, people flirt all the time. The straight boy would quickly send a signal that he's not interested and that would be the end of that.
The point is the world we are living in is changing. Times are different from 10 years ago and they're going to be even more different 10 years from now. Gay rights are becoming the norm and gay marriage is quickly becoming the law of the land. America is finally growing up and realizing there's nothing wrong with identifying as LGBT, and it's actually very normal.
The Boy Scouts are an American institution and have long been a part of building leadership, character and charisma in our nation's youth. I can't come up with any reason that a gay man would be any less capable of instilling these important values in our children, can you?
It's time for change and only a matter of time before gay scout leaders are welcomed into the organization. And it's only a matter of time before anyone who identifies as LGBT is truly welcomed everywhere and doesn't have to live in fear of retaliation. After all, isn't America a great melting pot of different types of people? It's time to truly embrace equality for all no matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe.
For an organization that claims to be one of the nation's "most prominent values-based" organizations, what kind of values is this teaching? It's teaching kids how to be prejudice towards minorities. It's setting them up to hate others who are different. It's wrong and it's time for it to stop.
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