GLEN COVE, NY — The Boy Scouts of America have been led into a terrible mistake with their recent vote on homosexuality.
The traditional position of the Boy Scouts on homosexuality has been based on three principles:
1. Homosexuality is incompatible with the Boy Scout Oath.
2. Homosexuals do not make appropriate role models for young people.
3. Homosexuals represent a danger to young people.
The Boy Scouts have two kinds of leaders: professional and volunteer. The professional leaders include scout executives and district executives; volunteer leaders include scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters, cubmasters, den leaders, commissioners, merit badge counselors, eagle project counselors, committee members, and sea scout skippers. The professionals are full time and have substantial power; the volunteers are part time and have the power of the vote.
|The political momentum in the more liberal parts of the country for acceptance of the view that the exclusion of homosexuals and atheists from Scouting is wrong has been increasing. The homosexual lobby, in particular, has fought for the right of homosexuals to be adult leaders.
The resolution was sold to a number of adult volunteer leaders as simply a matter of doing something good for some boys ... In reality, however, what was sold is a bill of goods.
For many years, the Boy Scouts have strictly excluded homosexuals, atheists, and other inappropriate people from leadership roles of all kinds. Homosexual and atheist youth are also excluded, although in practice this has not extended to boys too young to be certain of their sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
The Boy Scouts have not, however, gone hunting for homosexuals, atheists, adulterers, and drunks if their vices were kept secret. The Boy Scouts also conduct programs for teenage boys and girls in areas such as law enforcement and fire fighting. No inquiry is made as to whether the high-ranking police officials and firefighters who advise these teenagers meet the standards of a scout leader.
The question of whether the Boy Scouts should drop the prohibition of homosexuality came up at the 2012 annual meeting. It was decided to postpone it to this year's annual meeting to give the organization time to ascertain the views among scout leaders around the country and to conduct a contentious vote. A resolution was put before the 2013 annual meeting to prohibit the exclusion of any youth from scouting on the sole basis of his sexual orientation or preference. This resolution passed with a comfortable, if not an overwhelming, majority. Those who want homosexual adults in scouting regard this as only a first step.
The resolution was sold to a number of adult volunteer leaders as simply a matter of doing something good for some boys, certainly a goal of Boy Scout leaders. In reality, however, what was sold is a bill of goods. There is no definition of "youth." Most people assume that youth means under age 18, which is a requirement for youth membership in a Boy Scout troop. The matter is more complicated, however. The Boy Scouts of America run several programs for boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 20. Boy Scout summer camps are often staffed in part by college students, and technically they are often part of one of those teenage programs. At the age of 18, a boy ceases to be a youth member of his troop. From that point on, he showers and sleeps with the adults and has an adult registration in the Boy Scouts of America. If, however, he is a leader in the Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scout Honor Society, he may continue as a youth leader in that order.
|| It has always been the position of the Boy Scouts of America that homosexual acts are incompatible with the Scout Oath. It is impossible to see how this position can be maintained while forbidding the removal of homosexuals.
The Boy Scouts have strict rules that one adult may not interact with one unrelated youth unless they are in the view of other people. This is a very important part of the Boy Scouts' program of youth protection. Technically, a junior assistant scoutmaster who is 18years and one day old should not be alone with a Boy Scout who is 17 years and 350 days old, although the rule is not always enforced that rigidly. However, a 17-year-old Boy Scout can go off into the woods with a 14-year-old Boy Scout or share a tent with him.
Although the new rule was presented to some volunteers as only allowing troops to keep homosexual youth, it actually states that no youth shall be denied membership solely on the basis of sexual preference or orientation. The overall picture is that older boys may now endanger slightly young boys. The Boy Scouts of America have undermined the strong and effective youth protection program. The new rule has been met by a flood of expressions of fear. I have received a lot of e-mails to this effect, as has a former Boy Scout council president who is a friend.
It has always been the position of the Boy Scouts of America that homosexual acts are incompatible with the Scout Oath. It is impossible to see how this position can be maintained while forbidding the removal of homosexuals.
There is a position in the Boy Scouts called a "den chief." This is typically a young teenage Boy Scout who visits a Cub Scout den or pack from time to time and helps the Cubs and inspires them to want to be Boy Scouts when old enough. It is hard to see how homosexual den chiefs can be good role models for Cub Scouts, but homosexual adults cannot be good role models for den chiefs.
The Boy Scouts have now undermined all three objections to homosexuals in scouting. Traditionally, the Boy Scouts have formed a corps of young men with better characters than their typical contemporaries. If, instead, they let the degenerates of society lead them, they will forfeit their ability to form character, and truly become the Baby Sitters of America.
Charles Mills has been involved in various leadership capacities in the Boy Scouts of Nassau County, New York, for many years. He is a member of his district Eagle Board and District Committee, is a chartered organization representative of his scout troop, and is a member at large of the Theodore Roosevelt Council. In the past, he has served on the Executive Board of that council, and as Chairman of the Scouting for the Handicapped Division.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2013
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Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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