Gay Scout leaders or not?
To have Gay Scout Leaders or not to have them?
I received a post card from the scout office asking me to attend a special scout meeting and the card asked that we come to vote to help maintain a good moral scout program. I was teaching a CERT class that night so I was not be able to attend or vote so I thought I would express my feelings in this article.
I asked two of my children what they thought about gay scout masters and we had a nice discussion. My 14 year old son said it would not bother him as long as they did scout stuff. I think this answer was most enlightening because it got right to the point. My son did not seem to think it would affect anything as long as the leader did his job. The younger generation seems to be more accepting of many things including this type of behavior. Can the scouting program exclude 10-15% of the population because of their lifestyle choice?
I interviewed a nurse who deals with sexually transmitted diseases here in the State of Utah. This nurse does not attend any church yet she is concerned because she said a large majority of gay people are not only sexually active but in her opinion the group as a whole are more apt to talk about sex and participate in deviant sexual behavior. She also said that a majority of gay people she talks to have cheated on their partners and she feels that this is an issue when it comes to honestly since they are so promiscuous as a group of people. I don't know if there are any hard statistics to show that gays as a group are any more promiscuous than heterosexual people as a group.
In the LDS Church specifically you will talk to people that will quote the Book of Mormon where it states that in the Last Days people will call good evil and evil good. They say that this is an example of that happening. Isaiah 5:20 and also 2 Nephi 15:20
Even with these scriptures we should not be involved with any behavior where we hate or ostracize people that are involved in the actions.
My 17 year daughter brought up some good points. What if the boys asked their gay scout leader about sex or about their relationships? My answer of what should happen in this case and what may happen could be different.
What should happen when any scout leader is asked about sex by one of his scouts is clear. The leader should explain that in the scout program there are certain subjects that are not taught and are not discussed and the leader should refer the boy or girl to their parents and change the subject to one that relates to the scouting program. The fear of many people that something else may happen is why people are worried about having gay scout leaders.
If any leader, straight or gay is teaching or discussing sexual matters that are inappropriate with the boys, action should be taken.
The scout manual outlines in the beginning of the book what constitutes abuse and gives ideas and information on how to talk to the boys and girls about this subject. The parents should be the ones teaching these items.
When we follow the manual we are much better off than if we try to make up our own material. You can see I have included girls and when you look at the scout program you will find that in many areas girls are included in the program hence I mention girls. For some of the scout programs women are also used as leaders.
The two leadership deep rule is also clear that no leader should be alone with any of the boys or girls without another leader present. These rules help protect the boys from abuse.
If a straight scout master is asked about sex or his heterosexual relationships it would also be inappropriate for him or for her to discuss these topics. The statistics do not support that the boys would be at any more risk from gay scout leaders than by straight scout leaders. What we need are mature caring responsible leaders.
Many people will bring up the point that leaders are role models and the boys will look to them for advice and their actions even speak louder than their words. Since the BSA is a private organization they apparently can include or exclude people from participation. The words in the scout oath "Morally Straight" can be interpreted differently depending who is reading them. It it is a difficult thing to tell a gay boy that he can't get his eagle that he has worked so hard on because he has come out of the closet.
Gay people can hold LDS Church callings when they decide they will not be sexually active. However if they are sexually active then they cannot and many times the LDS Scouting program will use the Scout Master as a Young man leader on Sundays as well. This type of scout leader needs to meet criteria for both the Church and for the Scouts so hence the conflict.
The fact is that there have been and there are currently many gay scout leaders functioning in the system. These leaders have given many years of service to the boys and the program. They have not come out of the closet because they are scared they will be kicked out of the scouting program. I can see why they are scared and I also can understand some of the concerns of other leaders, scouts and many of the Churches that sponsor these programs.
Many of the scouting troops and units are sponsored by different churches and most of these churches have voiced their opposition to the gay lifestyle saying that it is a sinful practice and against the teachings of God yet they say we should hate the sin and love the sinner. Many gay people feel that living a gay lifestyle is not a sin so we have some differences of opinion. Many of the churches say it is not a sin to be gay but it is only a sin if you act upon those feelings. Recently the LDS or Mormon Church came out with a new web site to deal with the gay issue and you can visit it at
You will find some interesting ideas that are presented by the LDS Church. Elder Oaks even goes so far as to tell members that if they have been involved in making fun of or ostracizing gay people that they should repent and change and not participate in any such thing but be loving and understanding. This does not mean that members of the LDS Church need to accept the gay life style or agree with it.
The Church seems to be trying to include gay people rather than trying to kick them out and this is viewed as baby steps by many gay people and others feel it was a very big step. Most Churches have come back to the age old saying of “What would Jesus do?” The answer seems clear that Christ would love all men and women, Christ would not exclude anyone. The judge not, doctrine has to be looked at in certain circumstances so we can protect the boys and girls from criminals and people that could hurt them and that is why we have rules and scout committees. This comes back to judge not unrighteous judgement.
Some of these Churches have said that if the scouting program admits gay leaders that they will break off and start their own scouting type of a program and call it something else. I think we need to step back and really look at the entire program, why we have it and what would be the consequences of allowing gay leaders to be openly gay. In Canada they have a scouting program and they allow gay leaders and their program has continued to function as a scout program.
The purpose of scouts is to benefit the boys to teach and prepare them to be responsible adults. Some people feel that gay leaders may end up teaching the boys and or girls by their example even if they don’t say anything about sex to them. It is true children learn from example just as much as from words. Having said this we all have to understand that the scout leaders should be doing scout activities and that is what the boys should see these leaders doing.
We come back to what morals are when we teach these young boys about morals and honesty. Some adjustments may have to be made in the material as they did when they included material for other religions that are not Christian. I personally don’t see any reason to exclude anyone from being a scout leader unless they do not meet the criteria and as long as they follow the rules.
If a man or a woman has been convicted of specific crimes or if they could be a danger to the boys or girls then they should not be allowed to participate. As always you would need to justify why you were not letting the leader be part of the scouting program. All leaders go through special training and in that training they are taught how to teach the boys and girls, what should be discussed and what should not be discussed and anyone that deviates from those things, risks being asked to leave the program.
Many people are making this into a much larger issue than it needs to be. I have friends that are gay but when I refer to them, rather than saying “My gay friend Wes” I just say “My friend Wes”. The same should be true in scouts, we should not say “My gay scout Master” but rather “My scout Master or Mr. Smith etc.. ”.
When I meet with my friends or associates that happen to be gay many people think that you sit and talk about gay issues. I have a friend named Michael and when we get together we talk about life, weather and politics but the topic of how his gay relationships are going has never been part of our conversations nor need it be. That is not my business and it is not an appropriate topic for our conversations.
Some people are scared that if they hang around gay people or if their kids hang around gay people that it could rub off and I understand this fear yet I feel it is not a justified fear. The Bible says if you teach a child the way he should go when he is young that he will come back to that path and so when we feel we have taught our children the best that we can then we need to allow them to decide the path to take as they get older. Proverbs 22:6
I teach my children that you become like the people you hang around and I encourage them to associate with honest kids, smart kids, kids that put education first. If they hang around kids that are into drugs and gay or straight premarital sex their life will head in the wrong direction. The children can see that at church they learn about Jesus and then they see how we really treat people and our Christian teachings don’t always agree with our actions and our acceptance of others.
The fear many religious people have is that when we see the gay lifestyle portrayed as an alternate acceptable way of life on TV we will begin to think it is not so bad and fall into acceptance. Shows like Glee are very popular and many teenagers can identify with the kids on glee in many ways. They like the show, they like the singing and they like the characters.
The fact that the show includes gay teens is an issue that comes up in conversations with my kids and we talk about it. To forbid them from watching this show would not help anything, letting them watch it and then decide to or not to is the better route in my book. If we make a really big deal about it the more they will want to watch it. My 14 year old son watches it sometimes and it's not a big thing to him.
Recently I read some of the Tribune comments about the Gay Scout Master issue and one person brings up "Why would a gay man want to be a scout master if he does not have children in the program?" I know gay people with scout age children so some of them do have kids that could be in the program and others that don't may just want to give back to the community.
It was also brought out that in the LDS Church there is a young women's program and we don't send the Men to be leaders of the young women but we send women leaders with them to camp. This is true although normally they will send 2 men up to camp as well to be there in case there are any needs that arise where the men can help. There are rules in place to assure the safety of the girls just as there are rules for the boy's camp.
Personally I don’t agree with the gay lifestyle yet I don’t hate gays and I feel they should be treated with respect and love. 83% of the people that took the surveys don't want the program to change the policy and that is a majority.
Many of us also want our children to believe in the religion that we believe in yet we soon find out that as they learn and grow that they may decide to believe something different than we believe.
So to sum it up, I personally feel that qualified adults should be able to serve as scout masters as long as they follow the rules.