Scouting and Gay Youth in the Church

Today, the BSA’s 1,400 national delegates voted to rescind the ban on openly gay young men from participating in Scouts. According to the resolution, “Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” However, the BSA director of public affairs stated in response to a question as to wether the BSA will ask scouts about their sexual activity that “we do not ask now and will not if the resolution passes.” [ibid] The LDS Church released a response to the vote, which indicated the continued sponsorship of LDS Scouting and included the following statement:

The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men…who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.

This statement is interesting as it describes the threshold for participation in all youth activities as an agreement to abide the Church standards as outlined in the For the Strength of the Youth. In support of this position the statement quotes from Handbook 2:

Young Men of Other Faiths

Young men of other faiths who agree to abide by Church standards should be welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate in youth activities. Expenses for their participation should be handled the same as for young men who are members of the Church. When these young men participate in Scouting, their parents may give donations to help fund activities.

Beyond quoting from a section about non-Mormon behavior as a policy for Mormon members, I see today’s statement as indicating two possible policies, the latter being more likely. First, this statement could indicate that any behavior in violation of the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet would require the barring of LDS youth from participating in Young Men’s or Young Women’s activities, including Scouts. This seems like an untenable and undesirable position. Consequently, I think today’s statement outlines a policy of inclusion.

Despite our community standards, we welcome our children and young adults to participate in the programs of the Church. If they are struggling, whether with swearing, drug or alcohol consumption, or premarital sexual relations (with those of the same or opposite sex), we fight to have them remain among us. We recognize the normative standards of the behavior of the church. We hope that our youth will agree to abide by them. But if they don’t we invite them to. While we might excuse a young man or woman who decided to light up in the foyer of the church to do so elsewhere, I can’t imagine any church leader excluding that same individual if they were willing to abide the standards of the church during the activity.

Comments

  1. J. Stapley says:

    Also, if you wondered about how the church felt about this issue a couple of decades ago, here is a nice DNews write-up.

  2. Good news, all around. I just hope local leaders and members accept the Church’s statement.

  3. If I am reading it correctly, the Church statement asserts that “changes” in BSA does not constitute change in LDS Church policy. This is as it should be. Popular opinion does not dictate the terms of morality to the Lord. If you have any questions on this matter, please refer to Elder Bednar’s talk at the last General Conference.

  4. J. Stapley says:

    Jim, that is correct, the BSA announcement appears to be consistent with current church policy.

  5. Steve Russell says:

    Can gay scouts share a tent with each other, or with strait scouts? If so, why, given that young men and young women cannot share a tent. Asking them to just abide by church standards is not enough for members of the opposite sex. Why would it be enough for same homosexual scouts? Are gay scouts less sexual than strait scouts?

  6. If it’s okay for strait scouts, is it okay for wide scouts?

  7. Steve Russell, to be more serious in my response, there is a huge difference between a gay scout sleeping in the same tent as a straight scout of the same sex and two heterosexual youth of opposite sexes sleeping in the same tent. If you don’t understand that, I’m not going to try to educate you in this thread. It’s not the right thread for that discussion.

    My suggestion:

    If you have any gay friends, ask them – humbly and with an attitude of learning, not challenging. If you don’t have any gay friends, repent.

  8. Unknown says:

    There is no difference between heterosexual youth of difference genders sharing a tent and homosexual youth of the same gender sharing a tent. The Handbook has specific rules for the former situation. Those rules will now need to be applied to the latter situation. That is implicit in the message that the Church will continue to abide by all of its handbook policies pertaining to youth.

  9. Unknown says:

    I should say that my guess is that in the short term this issue will not require much thought in many ward because youth that openly and publicly self-identify as gay will self-select out of the youth program and scouts. To be honest, most of our heterosexual young men want to self-select out of scouts at a young age.

  10. Antonio Parr says:

    Ray:

    After centuries of gay people being treated, unfairly, as if they all were licentious and lecherous, it is not surprising tp see the pendulum swing the other way, with portions of society now romanticizing gays, unfairly, as if they all are somehow benevolent and guileless. Neither generalization is correct, of course, and there are licentious, lecherous homosexuals, just as there are licentious, lecherous heterosexuals. (Of course, there are also noble, visionary homosexuals and noble, visionary heterosexuals.)

    We have built safeguards to protect our children from licentious, lecherous heterosexuals who may be attracted to them by having unisex showers, assigning chaperones to coed events, etc. It is not unreasonable for Steve Russell and others to wonder where the safeguards will be for our children from the desires of those licentious, lecherous homosexuals who may be attracted to their children and who will have access to these children without the safeguards that we establish to protect our children from heterosexual advances for which they may not be prepared.

    These issues are complex, and it would be unfair to either side to dismiss opposing arguments and concerns as if they were of no possible merit.

  11. Antonio, I understand that – and to label my comment as the opposite extreme from Steve Russell’s is just as mistaken as Steve’s comment. I have never and will never argue the extreme position you appear to ascribe to me.

    Now, let’s move on.

  12. Stapers,

    Where is the DNews write-up?

  13. Rachael says:

    I’m actually curious for a further response to what Steve Russell, Antonio, et al., have raised. Having co-ed locker rooms would seem to be obviously inappropriate because there is the opportunity for being subject to the sexual gaze of the other sex. Even if the feelings are not reciprocal (the girl is not interested in the male owner of the sexual gaze or vice versa) it is still an inappropriate and vulnerable subjection– even if the owner of the sexual gaze is not lecherous or sexually harassing. The sexual gaze is enough, it seems, to make the arrangement inappropriate. So it appears to be a similar concern when boys sharing a tent, undressing or sleeping in the same space, etc., may experience a similar, vulnerable subjection to the sexual gaze of another in that space– again, even without any lecherous or abusive intent– even just “a faint undercurrent of excitement” (JB Priestley). Again, I’m not talking about sexual abuse or harassment. I have seen this issue raised in several forums but haven’t yet seen a full response to it. I’d be interested to hear more perspectives.

  14. RJH, statements by GA’s and Church officials in 1991 are here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/169688/SCOUTERS-ADVOCATE-STRONG-DEFENSE.html?pg=all

    Yesterday’s statement’s implication that this new policy has always been the Church’s policy is a bit misleading, but the carefully chosen language can be defended since the GAs’ statements previously were not official positions. I like this change, but I’m not wild about the hand-waiving suggestion that there was no change.

  15. J. Stapley says:

    Rachael et al., I haven’t spent really any time thinking about this, but my first inclination is to point out that as a society we don’t bar gay people from same-sex bathrooms or locker rooms, etc. I do think that things have trended toward increased privacy across the board in the last several decades, though.

    Also for comparative purposes, here is a write up on the SBC’s response.

  16. Hagoth,
    Thanks. It’s certainly true that the church has moved on this issue. That is patently obvious to anyone with a brain. The contrast with the SBC is really a marvel, all things considered.

  17. They had co-ed locker rooms on the Galactica. If that’s good enough for the original twelve tribes of Kobol it should be good enough for us.

  18. For folks hyperventilating over this policy update – and yes there are a some ;) I’d ask those who volunteer in scouting, when was the last time you asked your scouts about their sexual orientation? And for those w/sons in scouting, when was the last time that their son’s leader asked them about their sons sexual orientation?

    To anyone can answer those questions to include a date reference, don’t you find that a bit creepy? I know I don’t want a bunch of middle age men asking my 13 year old son if he likes boys or if he likes girls. Good grief…

    And the concern about shared tents and such… Consider those under the lens of the Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection Training and you’ll see the various check points already in place to help ensure the safety of all scouting participants

  19. I just assume that all men want me. Believe me, the male gaze can feel a little oppressive as I sashay down the sidewalks of the Great Northwest. I am a man and I know that men are terrifying beasts. I don’t mean all men, just most men or some men or a few men. The weight of all the bestial looking at me, crikey! What’s a poor man to do? I do feel a little better now that I’ve started wearing long sleeve shirts and have bought a small pistol to carry in my boot.

  20. Jeff,
    Good points. I know that as a heterosexual adult male teacher, my compliance with every jot and tittle of child protection regulation is pretty gender blind.

    I’m reminded of that comment that what male homophobes really cannot stand is the idea that men will treat them the way they treat women. Possibly unfair, but still…

    Steve,
    You’re not helping. The Galactica was a den of iniquity.

    Stapley,
    A good point. The fact is that gay kids are in our (shock! horror!) schools, locker rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms — in every place they have a right to be. Unless you think they don’t, in which case you are a retrograde bigot and you have my contempt.

  21. “The fact is that gay kids are in our (shock! horror!) schools, locker rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms”

    What a corrupt imagination you lefties have. It makes me want to put you all in a barn and set it on fire.

  22. I live in Europe, bro.

  23. Strike two, RJH!!!

  24. This thread went downhill fast.
    Respectful dialog will likely do more to protect and serve our youth than ad homonyms.

  25. Rachael says:

    I thought I was asking a fairly straightforward question. If anyone is able to answer it without the predictable knee-jerk sarcasm, I’d be very appreciative of their insights.

  26. Rachel, I thought J Stapley’s response to your question was suitably non-sarcastic, no?

  27. I was never forced to share a tent with anyone I didn’t want to during scouts. Sometimes I brought my own tent, sometimes I shared with a friend or friends. These kinds of arrangements don’t depend on explicit policies about which scouts can tent with which scouts. Scouts will decide who they tent with, just like they always have. Some scouts might not be willing to tent with the gay scout, but they’re probably the same scouts who don’t want to tent with the straight scout who gets called “faggot” at school all the time.

  28. correlated says:

    While I applaud the change and do think it reflects the current practice on the ground in the vast majority of LDS Scout troops, the fact is that it does not matter. Scouting has been in a death spiral for at least a decade. This change — and let’s be very clear here, the Church’s lawyers’ parsing aside, this is a big policy change in a relatively short period of time for the Church and for the Boy Scouts — will only speed up Scouting’s demise. A whipsaw has now been created by this attempt at a solomonic solution. The advocating for full gay inclusion, which would allow openly gay leaders to participate, will not stop. And there are and will be far more than a few, within and without the Church, who will drop out of Scouting or become (even more) lukewarm about it because of the partial inclusion of gays. Whip. Saw.

  29. The Other Brother Jones says:

    All of this only applies if the scout is OPENLY gay. What 13 yr old scout is that open, that experienced with sexual issues, etc to make a firm and public disclosure? Many straight boys that age don’t like girls yet!!

    While I do think these issues need to be addresses and resolved, I think their actual application will be infrequent at best.

  30. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I am referring to Tent sharing issues, of course.

  31. Mark B. says:

    Just found out a year or two ago that a kid I went to scout camp with in the summer of 1967 turned out to be gay. All I remember about him at camp is that he was a lousy cook.

  32. Scouts Canada has long allowed GLBT scouts and leaders. I am not aware of a death spiral of Scouts Canada. The Church’s partnership with Scouts Canada, as far as I know, is as strong as ever. I have not heard one complaint from Canadian LDS troops about that policy. Perhaps this thread will be the exception.

    There were gay boys in my scout troop 40 years ago. I don’t know that the leaders knew, but most of us knew, because it was an open secret. I don’t know any straight boys in the troop who changed their orientation as a result. None of the gay boys were sexually active–they just said (to me and to others) that they were homosexual. I never felt threatened or even uncomfortable in any way by sharing locker rooms, showers, or tents with friends who were gay. Maybe I was naive 40 years ago.

    Of course, those were the days before the publication of the Miracle of Forgiveness, and the attitudinal change that resulted in our church.

  33. Thomas Parkin says:

    I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was being absurd. I must have lost my touch. Some kind of late bloggernacle syndrome, or something.

  34. I don’t think the predicted death spiral will come from corruption of the youth. The potential demise will work as follows. Corporate America, foundations, and other moneyed sources have been subsidizing BSA for years. Much of that stopped in the last 10-15 years because of BSA’s stance on gay boys and leaders. As a result, the Friends of Scouting Program has been working to hit up faithful chartering organization members (Mormons, baptists, etc.) to make up the difference. Whether this decision was intended to appease the left or the moneyed interests or whether it was done because it was the right thing for the boys won’t matter to the moneyed left. The corporate boycott will continue because the policy didn’t go far enough.
    On the flip side, several conservative churches have already announced their withdrawal from BSA and others who stay will grumble. As a result, there will be fewer Friends of Scouting donors. The moneyed left has already cut off BSA. Now the moneyed right will as well.
    The BSA has now officially achieved equality–both sides are equally pissed.
    In the middle of the road, you get squish, just like grape.

  35. Scouting in the UK is very strong, for both girls and boys. GLBT boys and leaders are both welcomed into Boy Scouts there. All leaders regardless of sexual orientation are equally subject to compliance with strict child protection measures.

    As to a straight boy having to share a tent with a gay boy, Brad nails it above — the boys themselves typically make their own arrangements about tent-mates.

  36. Thanks DavidH .. you raised the point about Scouts Canada which I share with my friends who are all worked up about this issue in the US. IMO, just another data point of the worldwide church being a bit ahead on some issues than the US-centric bias evident with many LDS members.

  37. Racheal – I think it is a valid concern. However, as a parent of two teens here are my thoughts. 1. Gays represent a very small minority. So it is quite different than having boys and girls together.
    2. Many “gay” boys aren’t exactly sure about their orientation. Sure there are those who knew they were gay at age 4, but for many teen boys they don’t know. Making them self proclaim to be gay and be kicked out of the tent while they are simply confused is cruel. So, I believe I can tolerate my son going to camp and risking having a small minority that aren’t sure of they are gay or not, or if they are gay are really scared to think about it or talk about it.
    3. Leaders should always be aware of behavior of the boys. Are older boys being cruel to younger boys? Is one boy showing porn to others? Has someone brought illegal drugs? Leaders should be vigilent in overseeing what is going on. Homosexual thoughts or behavior is just one of many difficulties.
    I would be concerned about openly gay and practicing teenage boys who are older than my son or seem interested in my son. Just like when older boys took an interest in my daughter, it would require supervision from caring leaders.
    .

  38. Capozaino says:

    Rachael: I think excluding people entirely on the possibility that someone might be made uncomfortable because of a potentially lustful gaze would be absurd. If you have safeguards to prevent actual assault and abuse, do you really need to go all the way down the rabbit hole and prevent people from exposure to others’ subtle outward expressions of fleeting desires? Say goodbye to joint YM/YW activities if we’re going to attempt to avoid discomfort resulting from a lustful glance. You know what, say goodbye to meetings altogether, because some women just look too good even in a modest dress and we certainly know that a handsome man in a white shirt can make a woman think about straying.

  39. Rachael says:

    Thanks, jks, for your insights.
    To be clear to Capozaino and others who might be misunderstanding me: I’m not talking about approving or disapproving of the Boy Scout policy or kicking anyone out or whatever. I am sure Boy Scouts will figure it all out just fine and that boys will continue to have a great experience. I was simply trying to understand *whether* some people’s concerns that sharing intimate spaces (tents, locker rooms, etc) with a homosexual is the *same thing* as sharing those spaces with a member of the opposite sex — are *valid.* Based on the sexual gaze present in both situations, I thought there might be validity to thinking of the two scenarios as similar. I was hoping to hear insights on why they are not the same, are the same, etc.

  40. Am I reading this discussion correctly? Did DavidH just blame all anti-gay sentiment on The Miracle of Forgiveness?

  41. >> Leaders should always be aware of behavior of the boys. Are older boys being cruel to younger boys? Is one boy showing porn to others? Has someone brought illegal drugs? Leaders should be vigilent in overseeing what is going on. Homosexual thoughts or behavior is just one of many difficulties.<<

    I don't know how much I would trust to the oversight of the leaders, when they aren't so much volunteers as conscriptees, and once someone gets a few years of experience under their belt they are rotated into the Sunday School presidency or whatever.

    There are a lot of changes I'd make regarding the Church's involvement with scouting – allowing parents/leaders to *volunteer* as leaders (the way it's done in every OTHER scout troop outside the Church) would be a big one.

    Actually, I'd like to see the Church end its affiliation with Scouting altogether, and let the kids who want to do Boy Scouts do it on their own time, but that ain't gonna happen.

  42. correlated says:

    Hagoth is correct. And please don’t compare the UK and Canada to the US on this issue. For the church’s relationship with scouts, the US is all that matters. Unfortunately, Utah is all that matters really. Anecdotally, we saw a sharp decrease in FOS contributions in my ward this year, and we had one scout leader resign based on BSA’s very contemplation of open gay inclusion.

  43. So nobody would mind his/her daughter sharing a tent with a boy as long as she finds him repulsive, right? Rachel’s question isn’t easily dismissed, imo.

    Obviously, gay kids have always been in LDS troops, but they’ve been unknown as gay. I’ve known of two in my time as a scout leader. That seems to have worked fine, except for the verbal abuse they’ve had to cope with as they’ve had to listen to the other boys call each other ‘fag’ and ‘homo’ (something that I hope LDS scoutmasters are trying to eradicate). I don’t know what constitutes “openly gay” for a 12, 13, 14-year-old, but generally nothing good comes from boys being “openly hetero” at that age either.

  44. Dale Whiting says:

    “Judge not that ye be not judge.” The Church will continue to require of it’s same-sex attracted members that they abstain from same-sex relations. However both the Church and the BSA require that boy scouts abstain from all sexual relations. So mixing boys in the same tent is of no concern. We do know that when we judge same-sex attracted men or women, rejecting them from our society, they usually leave the Church, some even committing suicide. This is to be expected as a part of normal human reactions in society. When we embrace these individuals, usually they stay associated, some even marrying and raising families, yet still having to deal with same-sex attraction. But whether we are same or opposite-sex attracted, once we marry, we are to give ourselves, all of ourselves, to our companion, attractions included, as best we can. If we will come to stop judging those who are sexually attracted differently, God will bless us. If not, we will come to feel His wrath for judging. For “I the lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive [and love] all men [irrespective of their orientations].” D7C 64:10.

  45. My point is that “openly” either way indicates a certain lack of reticence that I wouldn’t want in a scout troop, period.

  46. Since so many comments have gone there already, here is my explanation of why a gay boy sharing a tent with a straight boy is very different than a heterosexual boy and girl sharing a tent:

    In the second scenario, there is a decent chance of mutual attraction and, therefore, forbidden actions; in the first scenario, there isn’t.

    The only reason for denying the first scenario is the fear that homosexuals are more likely to be rapists or that they will influence straight boys into becoming homosexual. That reasoning is absurd, offensive, bigoted and ignorant. It desires to set policy based on the extremes, marginalizing and stereotyping entire groups in the process, and is based more on an “ickiness factor” than on sound reason. The number of young gay predators is lower than the number of young straight predators. It is FAR more likely a straight Scout will be abused severely by another straight Scout than that he will be abused sexually by a gay Scout.

    The reasoning is no different whatsoever, at the philosophical level, as Mormon parents not allowing their children to play with Baptist children – or vice-versa. You can’t catch a gay virus, and the possibility of my children converting to another religion is exponentially higher than changing their sexual orientation.

  47. “My point is that “openly” either way indicates a certain lack of reticence that I wouldn’t want in a scout troop, period.”

    Martin, forgive my bluntness, please, but that is patently absurd. If you forbid “openly” straight Scouts, you won’t have any Scout troops left. Period.

  48. Antonio Parr says:

    Ronan:

    I would be hard pressed to say whether I am a bigger fan of Ronan the person (a good man with a wonderful family) or Ronan the writer (brilliant and insightful and often deeply inspiring). But your comment that “gay kids are in our (shock! horror!) schools, locker rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms — in every place they have a right to be. Unless you think they don’t, in which case you are a retrograde bigot and you have my contempt” comes across as more than a bit harsh.

    Some teens embody strength and confidence and are fully able to stand up for themselves. Others not so much. If a sexually agressive heterosexual male were to walk into a girl’s locker room and stare leeringly at a self-conscious teen-age girl while she was undressing, I would feel concern for her. Similarly, if a sexually aggressive homosexual male were to walk into a boy’s locker room and stare leeringly at a self-conscious teen-age boy while he was undressing, I would feel concern for him. Unlike the scenario with the heterosexual male in the girl’s locker room, which won’t happen because society segregates people by gender in such facilities, the second scenario is a real possibility.

    To that end, it is not just retograde bigots who are worthy of contempt who wrestle with the implications of young people sharing intimate space when there is a sexual attraction between those sharing that space. In fact, one could argue that it would be irresponsible for parents of young people to refrain from at least asking the question posed by Rachael.

    The fact is that there are some wonderful homosexuals and there are also some really, really sleazy homosexuals (ditto heterosexuals). So what happens when a really, really sleazy homosexual has intimate access to the objects of his desire (in a way that really, really sleazy heterosexuals do not)? Perhaps nothing at all. But perhaps insecure young men are leered at and propositioned and left feeling degraded and harassed (i.e., the way that an insecure young woman would feel if she was being leered at and propositioned by a really, really sleazy heterosexual male while she was undressing).

    Of course, homosexual men have been sharing locker rooms with heterosexual men for as long as there have been locker rooms, and the world has not stopped turning. However, with the increased trend towards encouraging open expressions of one’s sexual preference(s), it is conceivable that some of the societal filters that, in the past, resulted in more discreet behavior may melt away, the result being the increased potential for victimization as outlined above. It is also conceivable that it is all much ado about nothing. Either way, it is no sin to ask the question.

    . . .

  49. Right. “Open” means admitted, not ostentatious, sexually aggressive, or promiscuous.

  50. Can we really not assume that active participation in BOY SCOUTS will self-selectively take care of the potential problem of young gay men who are so aggressively licentious as to pose threats to the boys forced to tent with them? Come on…

  51. I mean, we’re really concerned about the possibility that on some scout camp there will be a sexually aggressive scout leering at and hitting on other scouts, and the leaders might not be able to do anything about the inappropriate behavior and some docile straight scouts might be forced to endure the indignity of having to share a tent with said alpha gay?

  52. Dale Whiting says:

    We are making progress, here. The discussion centers around being “open” or “closed.” I personally know of six members of the Church who are same-sex attracted. Only one, the oldest, remained “closed.” Doing so made much of his service in the Church easier. He was not judged for his secreted orientation. Fortunately for him, his girl friend accepted his orientation. They married in the Temple and raised a small family. Were I to give others advice, I would say “stay closed. It’s much easier.” He came out only twice, first, to his girlfriend and years later to a counselor in the Stake Presidency. On the far extreme is a great grandson of Jesse Knight. For those of us who knew him well, we always suspected he was [forgive the expression, but it's simpler] gay. After coming out, he was rejected by his loved ones. He disdained scouting. He left the Church. Eventually he was judged by police to have committed suicide. He was my first cousin once removed.

    As society becomes more open, the fear of being honest with ourselves and with others, will result in more of our youth [male and female - I know of two lesbian members] coming out in the open. When they do, we need to not judge them, leading to our excluding them. I have housed a gay young man whose family largely rejected him. He had left the Church. His father thanked me for taking him in. Turns out the step-mother insisted that he be kicked out of her home. I have seen another family accept their gay son, siblings and parents, too, but be rejected by his peers in the Church. Though totally inactive now, this young man is still loved by his mother, and by me, his father. And he is loved by his Heavenly Father, too.

    He would tell you that the idea that he would try to influence others to be same-sex attracted is ridiculous. He would not wish this problem on anyone. Most of his friends are gay. They share a common problem and can support each other through difficult times. I surely wish he had not been rejected by other Church members, and that he could have found support inside the Church, too. But it is hard to find there. All this take about tent sharing speaks louder than we know.

  53. reading these comments makes it sound like all boy scouts do is get undressed, shower together, and engage in assigned tent sharing.

    I can’t imagine what the comment thread would look like if we were discussing the real shared showers at the MTC – unless they did away with those… It took one guy in my mission over a year to shake off his ‘Woody’ nickname.. I’m glad I wasn’t anywhere near that incident.

  54. “Martin, forgive my bluntness, please, but that is patently absurd. If you forbid “openly” straight Scouts, you won’t have any Scout troops left. Period.”

    Not true. I’d say with 12,13, even 14-year-olds, you often can’t say you really know their orientation. Otherwise, the gay kids couldn’t have passed so easily. While privately fascinated, they’re very concerned about being ridiculed and keep a lot of things private, straight or gay. Unless they’ve started to flirt (which a few precocious ones have — to the admiration of the others), what does “openly” mean? That they’ve started rating people’s attractiveness on a 1-10 scale? That you’ve caught them with porn? That’s what I’ve experienced, and I have no use for it.

  55. My only concern about this is that as both a scout myself, and later as a scoutmaster, I found organized BSA activities (BSA sponsored scout camps, Camporee, Order of the Arrow) to be rife with bullying, mostly overlooked and ignored by adult staff. It was especially obvious at summer camps, where most non-LDS troops had a significantly older group of boy leaders, often 16-18, whereas our average LDS senior patrol leaders almost never exceeded the age of 14. As a result, our troop while I was scoutmaster avoided as much as possible those organized BSA activities in favor of camps and activities that we did on our own.

    My fear is that such bullying may now take on a more sinister direction, with the assumption that any kid who is out of the ordinary, homogenous mainstream, will now be assumed to be gay, and owing to the maturity of 12 – 15 year old boys, be a target for harassment.

    Don’t get me wrong, as I view the BSA’s decision in this case to be a good one, and the LDS church response appropriate as well. I just think there are other issues with the current scouting program that also need some attention.

  56. Randy B. says:

    “I can’t imagine any church leader excluding that same individual if they were willing to abide the standards of the church during the activity.”

    I don’t think it’s really *that* hard to imagine. A not insignificant number of people get far more worked up about the whole gay sex thing than straight sex, let alone other indiscretions like watching rated R movies or smoking cigarettes. At the same time, I agree that exclusion is unlikely to be the typical response. My best friend in high school was gay, the bishop knew all the details, and yet my friend still fully participated in scouts and got his Eagle. This was in SLC over 20 years ago. I suspect most bishops would do the same, irrespective of what happened today.

  57. Antonio Parr says:

    (Lost in all of the “what ifs” and hypotheticals was Dale sharing some very personal accounts of the issue at hand. Dale – heartfelt best wishes to you and to your loved ones for strength and joy in the journey.)

  58. Antonio,

    You know the admiration is mutual, but I stand by my comment as written. We have gay kids in schools and in church, and thus in locker rooms and bathrooms; we want gay kids to be friends with our kids and to watch TV and chat about stuff. In other words, we rightly normalise the close association gay kids can have with same gender friends and thus there is no reason not to extend that to Scouting.

    Unless we think gay kids should not use same gender locker rooms (for example), in which case we are indeed “retrograde bigots.” I stand by that.

    As for the proximity of adult homosexuals to same gender children, I repeat what I said above: my own compliance with child protection policies is utterly gender blind. All society can and should do is insist on robust child protection rules and compliance. To exclude gays from scouting because we are afraid of sexual misconduct is simply wrong. One cannot completely prevent it from happening, I suppose, but that is the risk a fair society runs.

  59. Dale Whiting says:

    Some of us limit the conversation about having gay boys participate to those of “classic” scouting age. But the policy change covers all, from 11 through 18, scouts, explorers, ventures. And as I recall, the discovery of one’s sexual orientation typically does not occur until 14 or later for boys. Others wisely point out that bullying is a bigger problem. I observe that bullying gay boys is perhaps the biggest problem we face. And should more of our youth [boys and girls] choose to risk coming out openly, the bullying problem will have to be addressed. Are we ready for this? Will the brethren address this proactively. Most of the negative or cautious statements have concern what I perceive to be the less important issues, the behavior of the gay scout and their impact on fellow scouts. Leaders need to monitor the impact of the straight scouts on the gay scouts. That was my experience.

  60. Antonio Parr says:

    Ronan –

    Your points are well taken, and I believe that we are in agreement with respect to many material aspects, not the least of which is the recognition that kindness is an absolutely essential component of Christian discipleship. For too long, homosexuals have been excluded from this kindness, and this exclusion is something that surely is displeasing to our Lord.

    That being said, the overall tone of most of the above posts is to downplay the sexual desire that homosexuals feel for other males, which seems an odd thing to do when it is same-sex desire that defines someone as a homosexual.

    Mix together sexual and romantic desire, the confusion and insecurities of adolescence, and the absence of the kind of safeguards/ barriers typically set in place with respect to opposite sex attraction, and you have a dynamic that, at the very least, merits conversation. Hard to have that conversation if the mere raising of the issue runs the risk of being labeled a “bigot” (one of the harshest words in the American, err, ~English~ language).

    (I think that my prior question about insecure teens is a fair question. I am genuinely interested in thoughtful responses. My thoughts are not fully formed on these questions, and I am open to persuasion.)

  61. Antonio Parr says:

    (That last post was a draft that was submitted inadvertently. I actually have nothing new/more to add on the topic, and will sit back and continue to reflect upon the issues.)

  62. “The overall tone of most of the above posts is to downplay the sexual desire that homosexuals feel for other males.”

    Antonio, I went back and read the comments, and I simply don’t see that “overall tone” – not at all. The overall tone I read is that fear of that desire should not make us exclude those who do not act on it in an inappropriate manner – which is the exact same standard we use for heterosexuals. I know lots of straight men with strong sex drives who serve in every type of calling in the LDS Church, even some in which they meet privately with women – because they control their urges and do not act on them inappropriately.

    What I don’t want is separate but equal – and we aren’t even at that level of equality yet. There still is an obvious double standard when it comes to how we treat gay members, and it shouldn’t extend to their involvement with Scouting.

    If you are interested in a more detailed description of what I mean, read the following post form my personal blog, which got serious pushback in the comment thread:

    “Homosexuality and the Most Basic Double Standard” (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011/11/homosexuality-and-most-basic-double.html)

  63. Given the lack of interaction between most LDS units and “the rest”, this likely won’t be a big issue.

  64. John Taber says:

    That lack of interaction is part of the problem with LDS/BSA relations. We give them a blank check and don’t get back what we put in, or even use that blank check as a reason to provide a watered-down program. I could go on, but I won’t right now.

  65. Dale Whiting says:

    John, I would not take exception to what you say. We have had general authorities in national scouting positions and have had local leaders in major council positions, and nothing much changes. However, the discussion here needs to focus on this change in policy. Some of us opine that the BSA’s new policy is not new for us. I would observe that where it might not be new, and judging from some of the comments above, this new policy needs to be studied and carefully considered, not because it may or may not constitute change for us, but because we need to change ourselves and our behavior. We have read comments about bullying, straights against gays. That probably will become a bigger problem than it has been. Few of us both understand and appreciate what it means to acknowledge that one has a overwhelming same-sex attraction, not by choice, but by nature. The reaction from leadership and fellow scouts must be one of understanding, genuine sympathy and love, Christ like love, for those who are different from us. Worrying about who sleeps in the tent with whom is pure nonsense in comparison.

  66. John Taber says:

    Like I said, I could go on with that but I won’t.

    What worries me is people like my mother-in-law who are ticked about this new policy, and don’t understand that the core principle is that no Boy Scout should be having sex of any kind. I hope the First Presidency issues a letter to be read in sacrament meeting clarifying why this policy is a good thing, because so many members (probably not a majority) are up in arms because they don’t understand it.

    Boys of any age might consider themselves to have a particular orientation – liking girls didn’t really start to kick in for me until I was about 14. It just shouldn’t be acted on in any physical form at that age. Bullying might indeed become a problem – it wasn’t for me in Scouts, but was at BYU. (Some people there didn’t think I “liked girls enough” and therefore “must be gay”.) As for camp, there was usually at least one teenage girl there on exchange from Europe, and there have been woman scoutmasters for decades now.

    I hope (and I have seen this in LDS and non-LDS scouting) is that we can no longer excuse raunchy behavior on boys’ part with the rationale of “knowing they’re not gay”, because now “morally straight” (along with “Clean” in the Scout Law) means celibacy for boys regardless of orientation.

  67. Dale Whiting says:

    John, we agree 100%. I have seen the same problems you discuss. I hope for the same follow up from the Brethren. I have seen misguided apathy destroy the lives of young men who did absolutely nothing but discover that they were same-sex oriented. And I have talked with enough gay men to know that they did nothing to be the way that they are and would not wish to influence any others to partake in their orientation. Gays hang around together because pretty much only other gays can feel their pain. If any group of people deserves our treating them with the Pure Love of Christ, it is these men [and women, too]. But what will it take for the average LDS to come to understand them? What did it take to come to accept blacks into full faith and fellowship? One group is easy to spot. The other group has been living amongst us for millennia. Only after we come to know others for what they are can we come to know them for who they are, children of God..

  68. Nate W. says:

    Antonio Parr (24/05/13 20:46):

    “Hard to have that conversation if the mere raising of the issue runs the risk of being labeled a “bigot” (one of the harshest words in the American, err, ~English~ language).”

    Seriously!? I can’t even… [brain melts]

  69. Dale Whiting says:

    Yes, Nate W., we need to be careful about labeling. The first comment, it was from J. Stapley, cites us to a 1991 Desert News article where someone with authority appears to suggest that the Church would withdraw from scouting if scouting required it to register homosexuals. So clearly the policy has changed. The point here is not that Church policy has never changed. Clearly it has. Rather it is that the Church changed ahead of the BSA, way ahead. I would add that the Church has changed ahead of the 39% who voted against this change and wonder what will happen to them and to the BSA if this 39% withdraws. Withdrawal was the Church’s threat in 1991.

    My point is: Now that the Church and the BSA have changed, when will we adult leaders and members start counseling our youth to change, to understand that sexual orientation is not a function of prior behavior, exposure to something, or choice, whether that orientation is same-sex or opposite sex? And we hope that the Brethren will be way out ahead on this. We need to change ourselves personally. And many of us need to be told to do so by the Brethren.

  70. Nate W. says:

    I’ll tell you what, Dale Whiting, when the word “bigot” is scrawled across a teen’s locker in permanent marker — when the word “bigot” is yelled by a gang of thugs kicking the crap out of someone for the audacity of existing — when the word “bigot” is used by parents in referring to their disowned kids — when those things happen, I will start to take seriously that “bigot” is one of the harshest words in the English language. Until that time, I will treat that claim for what it is: the hilariously naive objection of a person who thinks that someone being impolite to him (and it is almost always a him) is tantamount to hate speech.

  71. gillsyk says:

    Sorry things ended so far afield from Mr. Parr’s request for conversation.

  72. Dale Whiting says:

    Nate, perhaps your experience and mine differ somewhat. Or perhaps I missed understanding your point, and/or you mine. I expect that permanent marker pen scrawling and thug gang yelling the term “bigot” and parents calling their own children bigots, have occurred. How often is hard to say for your and my sample sizes are somewhat limited. I have not witnessed any of this and suspect that you have not either. But I have seen parents, who not using the term bigot, disown and the even throw out from their home one of their own children who came to realize that they are different, that unlike their parents and their other siblings, they are same-sex attracted. I know of some of those who were thrown out go on to commit suicide. I know of one case where a closeted gay member committed suicide, he being “outed” by his lesbian friend afterward. This is serious business!

    And in classes where I was teaching I have seen High Priests confuse the terms “gay” and “lesbian” with “pedofile” and judge the whole lot as being the most damnable of sinners. These HP’s own personal experience was very limited. Yet our Lord’s commandment is that we judge not, and that we have charity towards both the lot and those who would judge the lot.

    And I have seen teenagers tease not only those peers who are same-sex attracted but also the siblings of those peers, leading to those who were teased together with their siblings leave the Church. And I have seen local Church leaders pretty much turn their backs on all this, not because they particularly agreed with the teasing, but because they feared the consequences to themselves should they act to take any stand against this teasing.

    Now that the Church has taken a stand somewhat favorable to the acceptance of same-sex attracted people, I sincerely hope that as follow on second steps, the Brethren will address to the membership at large these issues more substantively and more directly. For from between 1991 and 2013, the position espoused by some prominent Church leaders has changed. And claiming to be His people, we need to change, too.

    There is no way I would use the term “bigotry” lightly, for it is a harsh and judgemental word. Rather, I would point out that our Lord and Savior has commanded us to love [in the sense of having charity and philiosity for, not amorous feelings for] one another. Teasing others about things over which they have absolutely no control surely is contrary to His teachings. Calling same-sex attracted people fagots is no worse than calling bigots those who use the term “fagot.” “Hypocrite” [for loving some of God's children, but not others] might be a more appropriate term, but that term also has adverse, unintended consequences.

    Yet it is high time we understand these issues and follow His lead to change this, our most inappropriate and uncalled for behavior against same-sex attracted people. After all, we Latter-day Saints claim to have a higher standard. I suspect you would agree.

    It’s very early Sunday morning and I have a lesson to finish preparing.

  73. Mormon Porn & Boy Scouts

    by Aaronita Smith

    Wayne Perry, Boy Scouts president, is pro-gay – and, believe it or not, MALE porn is officially part of his religion!
    Scholars, including Mormon ones, know of a hard-core porn sketch in the Mormon-approved “Book of Abraham.”
    This Book is part of the “Pearl of Great Price” which, along with the “Book of Mormon,” is LDS-authorized scripture.
    Figure 7 in Facsimile 2 in “Abraham” shows two beings facing each other. Joseph Smith described them as the “Holy Ghost” and “God” (the Father), the latter showing an erect male sex organ.
    Mormons were offended when Smith’s newspaper published this sketch in 1842, so the phallic part was whited out for more than a century until the “restored” LDS church restored the X-rated drawing in 1981!
    LDS scholars have hushed up the fact that the “Book of Abraham” is not about the biblical Abraham but actually portrays ancient Egyptian documents showing occult obscene sketches.
    Those scholars also know that Smith fraudulently altered them so that he could (blasphemously) portray the Christian trinity as sex fiends in order to promote polygamy among his followers!
    For more info see “Book of Abraham” (Wikipedia). And check out the Tanners’ “Mormonism – Shadow or Reality?” which reproduces the original Egyptian sketches Smith plagiarized and exploited. Also Yahoo or Google “Facts From Mormons (By a Utah Resident),” “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up,” and “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans.”

    [Preceding item viewed on the net. Comments, anyone?]

  74. It’s always amusing to see an amateur counter-cultist take 2 parts history and 30 parts tired misinformation and post it with the belligerence of a little boy challenging a playmate to a rassling match.

  75. Nate W. says:

    Dale (May 26, 2013 at 4:31 am):

    Your heart seems to be in the right place, but I have to push back against your claim that “Calling same-sex attracted people fagots is no worse than calling bigots those who use the term ‘fagot.'” In my previous comment, my intent was to elicit a comparison between the word “faggot” and the word “bigot.” One carries the specter of violence and terror, the other does not. As Professor Charles Lawrence observed:

    “Like the word ‘nigger’ and unlike the word ‘liar,’ it is not sufficient to deny the truth of the word’s application, to say, ‘I am not a faggot.’ One must deny the truth of the word’s meaning, a meaning shouted from the rooftops by the rest of the world a million times a day.”

    While calling someone “bigot” or “racist” is impolite in most contexts, it is definitely not one of the worst things you can call a person. Nor is it a word that is never called for. Jesus calling the pharisees and sadducees a “generation of vipers” certainly wasn’t polite, but I wouldn’t be the one to tut-tut over his tone or choice of words. There is a time to speak softly, to educate, and to be conciliatory. There is also a time to speak with boldness and plainness. Not all people can be reasoned with or educated; not everyone is an honest seeker of the truth; and not everyone is arguing in good faith.

    While it would be great if we all had the ability to discern exactly what to say at any given moment, sometimes we make mistakes. But I submit that if a person called “bigot” or “racist” is really interested in discussing the subject in good faith, he or she will not automatically go into self-justification mode and blame the other person for “shutting down the conversation” (the injunction not to take offense applies to straight white men too), but will actually ask the question, “Lord, is it I?” Maybe the other person is wrong, maybe the other person will be right, but either way, a little self-examination never hurt anyone.

  76. J. Stapley says:

    Ardis, FTW.

  77. Steve Russell says:

    At the risk of being called a bigot . . . if a scout leader allows two or three gay scouts to share a tent, has he made a mistake? If all we need to do is abide by the church standards, and if it really doesn’t matter if gay scouts share a tent with each other or with straight scouts, then why don’t we say the same thing about boys and girls, young men and young women sharing tents? Can we then have 25 year old men camping with 15 year old young women? What about women camping with young men? What about gay men, camping with young gay men? Do we really believe that gay scouts are less sexual than straight scouts? And finally, if the scout leader should not allow boys and girls, or two gay scouts to share a tent, are the scouts now required to declare their orientation so that he can make the right decision?

  78. Dale Whiting says:

    Nate, I do see your point. My point is not to rank those who engage in name calling but to encourage us all to stop in. In the context of the overall discussion, my point is that there has been a change in policy regarding the admission of same=sex attracted boys into Boy Scouts, likely the Church having quietly changed its policy first, then perhaps encouraging the BSA to take another look at it. For before, where the Church was the largest sponsoring agency, BSA had to tread lightly on this issue. And following up on this first point, I perceive a need Church wide to change our individual attitudes about same-sex attracted people. Let’s put an end to the name calling. As many of our youth gain the courage to divulge their inner feelings, having them castigated by their fellow youth will be counter-productive, to say the least.

    “Generation of vipers?” I had never looked upon that phrase as being name calling. I’ll have to give that more thought!

  79. “No,” pretty much answers the questions, Steve.

    I love Irv’s comment, although I definitely laughed hard enough that some members would consider it a sin.

  80. Dale Whiting says:

    Irv,

    Where most of us commenting are arguing personal opinion, your comment would seem to feign scholarship. Perhaps you ought to write up a piece with citations for separate submission and publication on the blog so that it can be examined more thoroughly.

  81. Steve Russell says:

    Ray, no to what? So, having gay scouts share a tent is OK, but having young men and young women share a tent is not? What is reasoning?

  82. Steve Russell says:

    Perhaps the scouts will just stop camping. After all, we no longer cook in the church kitchens.

  83. Dale Whiting says:

    Steve,

    I fear you miss the point. Whether boys in the same tent are gay, straight or mixed, engaging in any inappropriate sexual misconduct is forbidden. My tent sleeps six! If I had a gay boy in my troop, I probably would suggest to the Bishop that he consult first with the parents of that boy, then consider consulting with other parents, keeping the identification of the gay boy in the strictest of confidence. The first consultation would be in private, the second would include all parents. No sense in tipping the hat by having just one set of parents absent. In the first conference, if the parents suggest not to inform others, I would suggest that the Bishop honor that suggestion. And in the second conference, I would suggest that the Bishop and I educate the parents on same-sex attraction, using our personal experiences and LDS Social Services information, even having someone from Social Services participate.

    For the problem I see is not the conduct of the heretofore closeted young men in a tent, but the other boys and their parents as they come to interact with the gay young man and his family.

    Keep in mind that we are not talking about Deacon aged young men, but more likely 14 year old boys at the very youngest.

    And I would suggest that the Bishop meet with the gay young man and encourage him to call the Bishop to discuss anything that troubles the young man. I would suggest that as a part of their regularly scheduled conferences, the Bishop and the young gay boy discuss how this attraction needs to be kept within proper bounds, just as does opposite sex attraction, and how much this young man is needed in the Mission Field. Ideally, the gay young man will “out” himself first to his parents and siblings, then to his Bishop.

    I know of one closeted gay man in the church who was able to go on a mission, marry in the Temple, raise a family, even serve a mission with his spouse after retirement. And I seriously doubt that these achievements would have been possible if his orientation had been known. And I know of one other who decided to open up while on his mission. Now he is struggling to receive appropriate fellowship with his fellow saints, many of whom reject him.

    My point is: “As with the change in policies regarding 1) polygamy, 2) Blacks and the Priesthood and now 3) gay youth in Scouts, serving on missions and marrying in the Temple, it is the general membership who needs to change attitude so that when these men “out” themselves, we can respond appropriately to their needs and not adversely contribute to the problems they must face!” These are not problems of their own choosing!

  84. Nate W. says:

    Steve Russell:

    This isn’t just about sexual attraction. If men (straight or gay) treated women the same way they treated other men, then maybe it would be OK—but they don’t. In our society, mixed-sex sleeping arrangements pose a risk of sexual assault that single-sex sleeping arrangements—regardless of sexual orientation—do not.

  85. Steve Russell says:

    Or, perhaps we need to admit that we will treat homosexuals differently than heterosexuals: We will assume that homosexuals can safely share a tent, and that heterosexuals of the opposite sex cannot.

  86. Nate W. says:

    Dale:

    As most male-on-male sexual assault is perpetrated by men identifying as straight against men identifying or perceived as gay, I think your identification of the real issue here is wise and correct.

  87. Steve Russell says:

    Dale, I think you miss the point. You have yet to address the issue. You say that “engaging in any inappropriate sexual conduct is forbidden.” So, with straight kids, we don’t let them share a tent. With gay kids, you would have a series of conferences with parents. We don’t have a series of conferences with the parents of straight kids to decide if they can share a tent. So, just admit that you think we should treat them differently.

    Nate, you say that “mixed-sex sleeping arrangements present a risk of sexual assault that single-sex sleeping arrangements–regardless of sexual orientation- dos not.” I have no idea why you believe this or what study you are looking at, but I think you assumption is wishful think. However, you too, like Dale, are getting closer to admitting that you prefer to treat homosexuals differently than heterosexuals. I am just looking for clarity, and I think we are getting closer.

  88. Nate W. says:

    Steve Russell:

    “Or, perhaps we need to admit that we will treat homosexuals differently than heterosexuals: We will assume that homosexuals can safely share a tent, and that heterosexuals of the opposite sex cannot.”

    Umm… No. We can assume from a fair amount of experience in the US and all around the world, that there are far fewer issues with people of the same sex sharing a tent than people of the opposite sex, regardless of orientation.

  89. Nate W. says:

    Steve, considering your wholesale rejection of other people’s answers to your questions, I find it unlikely that you are “looking for clarity,” or really much of anything besides validation of the opinions you already had.

  90. Steve Russell says:

    Nate,

    “We can assume from a fair amount of experience in the US and all around the world, that there are far fewer issues with people of the same sex sharing a tent that people of the opposite sex, regardless of orientation.”

    You can “assume” all you want, but it will not be because of “a fair amount of experience.” However, I think we have arrived: You believe homosexuals are better able to control themselves sexually, so we can allow them to share a tent, whereas, heterosexuals of the opposite sex cannot. I disagree, but at least we have the issue clarified.

  91. Dale Whiting says:

    Steve Russell

    I understand your point. Quite simply its that men [gay or straight] do not treat women the same way as they do men. But what you leave unsaid is that 1) some of this differential treatment is not mistreatment, but appropriate treatment and 2) some is not. With 26,000 reported sexual assaults last year in the US Armed Forces, are any of us willing to encourage our young women to join up? I perceive that your point is that because mixed-sex sleeping arrangements can and do lead to assault, throwing a gay young man in with a straight young man must be similar if not the same thing. It not!

    First, we are talking about 14 to 18 year olds here. And in years past when our gay young men has to remain closeted to stay in the troop, I doubt that we had much of a problem from this. The problem was that when these young men got outed, they got teased and mistreated, most of the time teased out of the troop, out of the Church and not too infrequently out of life itself [suicide]. Among young gay men, suicide is by far the leading cause of death! [I lost a cousin to that!]

    Second, once you get to know young gay youth like I have, you will come to understand that the last thing why want to to cause anyone any trouble. Many may wish to tent solo. If I had such a youth in my troop, I’d look for a way to ease his discomfort and encourage him to join with the others. We are seeing enough gay men in sports coming out now, that our gay scouts ought to have a chance at gaining some self-esteem. Presently that’s such a struggle that same-sex attracted people socialize with themselves, knowing that help and comfort is more available among their fellows that in the population at large.

    I repeat. Now that Scouting has changed it policy on admitting gay youth, it is we adults and our straight children who need to change.

  92. Steve Russell says:

    Dale, I have similar concerns with gay men sharing a fox hole, a barracks or a shower with my son, who is a marine. However, I did not raise that issue, and I do not want to discuss it now. It is important that we remain focussed.

    You said that “throwing a gay young man” with a straight young man is not the same as putting a straight young man with a straight young woman. Dale, I specifically referred to putting two gay scouts in the same tent. There is no way for you to know, as a scout leader, unless you have them declare. Nate believes that gay scouts can better control themselves than can straight boys and girls sharing a tent. Perhaps you feel the same way.

  93. Steve Russell says:

    The easiest solution is to eliminate camping.

  94. Dale Whiting says:

    Who of us on this blog has any “extensive experience” in this matter? I would note however that the BSA was praised by the Brethren for taking a thorough look into these matters. I doubt that they overlooked your concerns. And judging from the bulk of the comments I have read, I am the only one among us with personal experience with gay young men. Quite frankly, I’ve all but lost count. It’s higher than 10, if one counts lesbians, too, all of whom were Church members. I will not characterize that as “extensive” but I do not see where anybody else here has had more experience than have I.

    I must ‘assume’ that you are a father of at least one scouting aged young man. If you have personal misgivings on this issue, let your Bishop know. He can refer you to Social Services and he can explain how he would handle these matters should one of the young men in your Ward comes out as being gay. You can see in my comments above how I would suggest that a Bishop and a Scoutmaster handle these matters. I only hope that the Brethren will step in with some written guidance. The General Handbook would be a good place to start. But I had to hold my breath back in 1978 when we extended full faith and fellowship to Blacks. Now we are extending it to same-sex members, who heretofore had to remain closotted to partake of that fellowship

  95. Steve Russell says:

    Dale,

    I don’t need a referral to social services. I am not sick. I am not homophobic. I do not need treatment. I simply disagree with Nate, and with you. I believe that two gay scouts should not share a tent, just as I believe a straight boy and girl should not share a tent. It is that simple.

  96. Left Field says:

    Always count on Ardis to put a troll in his place.
    Belligerence combined with feigned innocence. “Golly, I’m just hoping to have a conversation about this thing I read read on the internet.”

  97. Yes, it is that simple, Steve – and everyone here understands exactly what you believe. Since it’s that simple, and since we all understand exactly what you believe, and since you have no desire whatsoever to grant any legitimacy whatsoever to anyone who sees it differently than you do (including the top leadership of the LDS Church, since they did not forbid what you want to forbid) – how you do yourself and everyone else here a favor and drop this.

    There is nowhere else for this conversation to go – and, bluntly, it’s why I haven’t tried to explain further. It is pointless.

  98. Dale, you aren’t the only one who has commented who has had and continues to have experience with gay young men.

  99. Nate W. says:

    Dale:

    Let me say again that I agree with most of what you’re saying. It is because you have demonstrated that you genuinely care for the youth that I feel that you will be receptive to my comments.

    “in years past when our gay young men has to remain closeted to stay in the troop, I doubt that we had much of a problem from this.”

    My experience as a scout (and more generally as a teen) leads me to believe the opposite. Regardless of an open declaration of orientation, teen boys are quick to pick up on any behavior deemed effeminate or just different, and will view it as a license to make the offending boy’s life a living hell. This is especially true in culturally conservative societies. The fear that accompanies trying to hide one’s orientation just adds a “wounded gazelle” element to it. This is just speculation, but my guess is that openly gay teens (especially if they have supportive families) would more easily manage bullying than closeted ones.

    Just some food for thought.

  100. Dale Whiting says:

    Steve,

    Before we saw this policy change, the only thing that prevented our gaining experience with the problem you see was the fact that our young gays had to remain closeted. And that closeting included eachother. But if you are concerned that somehow we will start seeing gay youth misbehave while tenting together, read my suggestions above on how Bishops and Scoutmasters ought to handle things.

    And know that many Roman Soldiers were gay. And yes they paired up, so to speak covering one another’s backs in arm to arm combat. But they were not young men. When they aged out of the legion, they got a retirement, together. Now, putting yourself in the position of a heavenly judge, how would you judge these men? Remember some were the very first converts to Christianity as shown by the Roman language pentagrams using Christian terms recently found on the walls of their barracks. So when Charlemagne decided he needed to start embracing Christianity, perhaps it was not his conversion from seeing that heavenly cross in the sky showing him the way into Rome. It was more likely his needing to get out in front of his own Christian Soldiers. They were about to attack Rome and he needed their loyalty.

    Now, I shall ask you a question. Was Paul gay? Did he not suggest in his advice to Timothy that he was? I myself am open minded about this one. He told Timothy that a Bishop should be the husband of one wife and he encouraged Timothy to accept the calling as Bishop, yet opined that he thought traveling servants of the Lord ought to be as he was, without telling us what he was. I suspect that Paul was unmarried. And as a tentmaker, I am sure Paul slept in lots of tents with lots of men. Doing anything untoward would have spelled the end of his Church service. Same with our gay youth of today. That is why they need to be counseled and encouraged by their parents and Bishop.

    And the rest of us need 1) to trust that our leaders will do what is right and we need 2) to learn to trust these gay young men to do the same! That second part is my big concern.

  101. Dale Whiting says:

    Nate,

    I am not so sure that those youth who come out will handle bullying at all well. Those who remain closeted may by their behavior get thrust out of the closet into the open. But that has not been the case with those several gay youth I have known. Coming out is a process. Who do you trust? is the question. But I do agree fully that straight young men do bully those whom they suspect are gay and now that the policy has changed, surely our leaders must know that this has got to stop. You and I need to help make it stop. I have seen far too much damage result from this bullying, damage that in my personal experience has twice lead to suicides and usually leads to the gay or lesbian leaving the fellowship of the saints! That ain’t right. And it ain’t their fault. It is our fault! And we shall be judged for allowing it to happen!

  102. Dale Whiting says:

    Ray,

    you ask if I am the only one commenting who has had experience with gay youth in the Church. I suppose that I am. And every time I pause to reflect on this experience, I remember more. The count now is above 10, especially if you count 2 lesbians. Two have committed suicide while two have been able to marry in the Temple and raise a family [they were pretty much closeted], and the rest pretty much got teased by the saints into leaving their fellowship. And these same-sex attracted people include family members [1 first cousin once removed and 2 first cousins]. With only 2 finding fellowship in the Church long term, I know that there is hope, but we need to do more to create even more hopeful circumstances.

    I have a brother who has served in a Bishopric in the Bay Area. I believe his experience is larger than is mine. He opines that Members in the Bay Area or more open and accepting of gays and lesbians than they are elsewhere.

    Although I think I know what I am talking about, I will not claim to be an expert on these matters. But having had so very much close personal experience with these matters, I am motivate by this change in policy now to tell my story. I hope to see change, change in we Latter-day Saints. I saw change in we Latter-day Saints after 1978. I hope to see more change now. After all, we are still working on “Perfecting the Saint” aren’t we?

  103. No, Dale, re-read my comment. I said you aren’t the only one.

    Please discard the assumption that you are. All of the rest of us are NOT speaking from a position of ignorance.

  104. Dale, if your count is now over 10, you aren’t numerically close to some of us.

  105. Sorry for the multiple comments in a row, but I want to make you understand, Dale, that I am not arguing or disagreeing with you. I just want you to know you aren’t the only one here who is speaking from real experience – which, in some cases, is even more extensive than yours.

    In this discussion, we are on the same side.

  106. Dale Whiting says:

    OK, Ray, I misread your comment. And Yes I suspect and sincerely hope that I am not the only commenter here who has had personal experience with same-sex attracted individuals in the Church. Let me take a minute to talk about my very first experience.

    Not only was he same-sex attracted, he was also a pedofile. And in the Church we have had our share of problems in our scouting program with adult pedofiles. Gays are not pedofiles and pedofiles are not gays. There is some overlap, but it’s not believed to be extensive. The object of that returned missionary pedofile was one of my older brothers. Notwithstanding our Bishop’s reporting this incident, the young adult man was not seriously questioned by his Stake President. His reputation within his own immediate community was too outstanding. Eventually as the complaints from without the community came pouring in, he outed himself and left the Church. He was never prosecuted. 25 years later when I lived in that community, my course 17 Sunday School Instructor explained to me how difficult it is to catch pedofiles yet how frustrating it was as a police detective in that community to get local Church authorities to even report incidents, much less cooperate with an investigation. So I am well acquainted with the down sides of these problems.

    But with only 1 in 10 or so, I’d say that the far larger problem is not sexual assaults of any sort, but bullying and rejection. In that category, the count is 7 out of 10 with 2 of the 7 committing suicide. Only 2 of 10 found a way to continue in full faith and fellowship, one remaining pretty much closeted his entire life, the other still struggling, but now married in the Temple.

    So you be the judge of this problem 1 was a gay pedofile, 2 were just ordinary gays whose rejection lead to suicide, 2 found some degree of fellowship, and 5 left the full faith and fellowship of the Church feeling rejected, misunderstood and downright hated.

    If this change in policy results in more of our youth coming out, we need to prepare ourselves for more challenges, challenges not from these youth, but because of the way we treat these youth.

  107. “You be the judge of this problem.”

    Dale, do you think most people here disagree with you – and do you think I do?

  108. Dale Whiting says:

    No, Ray, not necessarily disagree. But clearly I see different perspectives [and have different priorities] on what the problems are that we must now face. We have some wondering if having gays in the tent together will be a problem. From a statistical perspective, the number of gays in an LDS troop tent will not increase because we now permit our youth to come out into the open in the light of day. There were there before. We leaders just did not see them. And yes, some closeted gays are good at spotting other closeted gays just as some straights think they can spot closeted gays. The real problem is not sleeping arrangements. But rather,

    The real problem is how will we adult leaders and parents react to those likely greater numbers of un-closeted gays in our midsts? We have reacted so poorly in the past that suicide has been the number 1 cause of death among this group. I know of two such suicides. How many do you know?

    So I ask you, “What priorities do you see? Is the most important and highest priority sleeping arrangements? Or is it fellowshipping?”

  109. “I see different perspectives [and have different priorities] on what the problems are that we must now face.”

    I think almost everyone here agrees with you about the priorities, Dale. I think you are projecting experiences elsewhere to this forum. There have been a few voices saying differently, and one of them has been strident to the extreme – but I think you are arguing for something that this post and most of the commenters believe already. I think your perspectives and priorities are not nearly as different as you think they are – at least, not here. Perhaps in lots of other church settings, but not here.

    Good night.

  110. Dale Whiting says:

    And Wade,

    My point is that regardless of your personal experiences with how straights have treated gays in the past, and the ability of straights to detect closeted gays, with a change in policy, we adult leaders probably ought to encourage closeted gays to come out and we need to be prepared to help them adjust and their peers adjust to them, certainly dealing sternly yet appropriately with our “conservative community’s” straight youth. You know, the definition of Liberal versus Conservative almost mirrors the definition of progressive and acceptive of change versus “died in the wool” unchanging. While the Gospel is unchanging, we saints must change. For the process of perfecting the saints requires putting off the natural man and become Christ like, the change we all must seek.

  111. Dale Whiting says:

    Opps, I meant Nate!

  112. Dale Whiting says:

    Don’t Bishops have at least an annual interview with all Aaronic Priesthood holders? If Bishops are slacking off on this duty, then we have yet another problem! With this change in policy, Bishops need to address both individually and collectively what it means to our youth, both gay and straight. And both gay and straight need to understand what the Church standards are for their own behavior and that of the others.

  113. Steve Russell says:

    I took a nap. When I awoke, left of field had called me a troll and Ray pretended to know exactly what I believed and had given up trying to convince me of the error of my ways. Gentlemen, I have many colleagues who are gay. They are a joy to work with. I have had many clients who are gay. I have discussed their struggles with them. I admit that I am not capable of knowing the difficulty of their struggle. I also agree that they should never be bullied or mocked or derided for their struggle. But, that has nothing to do with our discussion. I was hoping to put away the politically correct nonsense and discuss the obviously inconsistent position that: Gay scouts can share a tent but boys and girls are prohibited. It looks like this will not happen.

    I will look for another place to discuss my concerns. I have found my gay colleagues more knowledgable on the topic, anyway.

    In the meantime, here is something to consider: There will come a day when gay scout leaders are leading boy scout troupes. There will come a day when a gay scout leader will be leading an all gay scout troupe. There will come a day when a gay scout leader who admits to sympathizing with the goals of NAMBLA is not called to lead a scout group, even though he agrees to abide by some kind of acceptable standards. I assume you will cross those bridges when they appear.

    Farewell

  114. Left Field says:

    Steve, If by “left of field,” you’re talking about me, the troll is Irv, not you. I thought the reference was clear, since it was Irv’s comment that Ardis responded to.

    I’ve only been skimming the your discussion, but if you want to know, my view is that since time immemorial, we’ve been segregating facilities by sex, not sexual orientation. We’ve done that in scouts, in church activities, and in society in general. That’s the status quo. I don’t have any awareness that it has caused any systematic problems, so I don’t see any reason to change. If you think there is a need to change the status quo, that’s fine, but I don’t see that the new BSA policy has anything to do with whatever problems we do or don’t have with facilities segregated by sex.

  115. J. Stapley says:

    I appreciate all the comments, but I think that this post has wound down.

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