When the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently made the decision to allow “openly gay” young men to be scouts, at first I was sad to see that. I was mad. I thought, well gee, there goes another organization falling into the pressure given by society! But since then, I’ve had the opportunity to really think about it more. And I’ve realized I was wrong.
I’ve read many articles that basically said well, now we’re just waiting for boys to ask to share tents with their crushes, attempt to solicit bad behavior, and parade around flaunting their sexuality. To some degree, there’s a bit of truth there. Allowing homosexual boys to be scouts certainly provides an opportunity for that to happen. But it’s wrong to think that just because some of those things could happen, we shouldn’t have gay scouts.
You see, as a Catholic, I fall back on what the church says. And what does it say? It says that people with homosexual preferences “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
Is banning them from scouting unjust discrimination? I think it could be. After all, if we are to accept and embrace all people, shouldn’t any boy be allowed to be a scout? Looking at this from a Catholic perspective, I wouldn’t be comfortable answering that with anything but a yes. Of course gay scouts should be allowed. We shouldn’t exclude boys because of their sexual orientation.
BUT wait a second! you say. Isn’t this going to cause problems and make other boys uncomfortable? The truth is that I don’t know. It could happen. Will boys be subject to anything more than they would at school with gay classmates? Maybe. But like this article pointed out, there’s an obvious difference between what a Catholic troop would look like and what a more secular one would look like:
“The gay teen in a Catholic troop shouldn’t be sharing with his fellow Scouts his sexual attraction to other males. He can’t talk excitedly about bumping into his crush at the mall or hoping he’ll say yes to the prom. In fact, he can’t take a same-sex partner to a dance or on a date because he must strive to keep same-sex friendships non-romantic.”
If troops follow the scouting rules and deal appropriately with any sexual issues (homosexual and heterosexual), then there’s no reason why this new rule should be an issue for Catholics. It’s actually good, from a Catholic perspective, to allow gay scouts. It’s what we’re supposed to do. We are to accept and embrace (you might use ‘tolerate’) our fellow human beings simply because we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Homosexual behavior, on the other hand, in an issue in and of itself. And this is where I blurred the issues before. Accepting gay scouts does not mean we need to tolerate immoral behavior – it simply means we accept the people. The Church has clearly outlined the Catholic perspective, and shows us the beauty of the call to chastity of all people with specific instructions for how that is to be carried out (those with same-sex attraction are included). If BSA’s recent decision does eventually give way to the tolerance of homosexual acts, then that’s another story for another day. But for now, carry on scouts.