The problem is, do I let my kids who are straight share bathrooms and shower houses with kids who are not? How do I divide these kids up for camps? I mean, do I put the gay kids together and then the straight kids together?
Unfortunately, because of its religious foundation, many in BSA see homosexuality as incongruent with the values of the organization. In essence, it boils down to a moral issue. But, opponents of an inclusive membership policy — one that no longer explicitly excludes gays and bisexuals — are doing a poor job of disentangling several components of sexuality. The above quote seems to take issue with boy scouts’ sexual practices. Specifically, there is concern about same-sex sexuality. Yet, scouts who identify as gay or bisexual, regardless of their sexual practices, are excluded. Their sexual identities are assumed to reflect same-sex sexual activity that would occur during scouting events and meetings. That’s a bit presumptuous.
But, the slight openness to allowing gay and bisexual scouts, but not gay and bisexual scout leaders, suggests something more than the conflation of sexual identity and sexual behavior. Across the board, gay and bisexual men are being characterized as hypersexual. Their “open” presence is being described as something that will bring about prevalent same-sex sexual activity — and, of course, that’s bad! OnMyHonor.net, a site devoted to opposing change to BSA’s bi- and homophobic policy, has offered an extensive list — top 10 reasons to oppose policy change, including:
Opening the Boy Scouts to boys who openly proclaim being sexually attracted to other boys and/or openly identify themselves as “gay” will inevitably create an increase of boy-on-boy sexual contact which will result in further public scandal to the BSA, not to mention the tragedy of countless boys who will experience sexual, physical and psychological abuse. BSA’s
Whoa, see that? They went from sexual identity to sexual activity to… sexual abuse. Ah, there it is! Gay and bisexual boys and men are, yet again, being stereotyped as sexual predators. Opponents’ concerns are not merely consensual sex among the scouts. They are also fanning the flames of gay and bisexual boys who will rape other (heterosexual) boys and, the good old stereotype of gay men as pedophiles. To clarify:
Rarely does a pedophile experience sexual desire for adults of either gender. They usually don’t identify as homosexual; the majority identify as heterosexual, even those who abuse children of the same gender. They are sexually aroused by extreme youth, not by gender. [This video is also very helpful to break this myth down.]
Who Are The Real Predators?
So, if opponents are using the exclusion of gays and bisexuals as a way to keep out pedophiles, their efforts are misguided and, frankly, lazy. But, more importantly, I find it a repulsive twist in the perpetrator-victim dynamic. In the debates of the inclusion of gays and bisexuals, be it the removal of exclusionary policies or a change in the climate, in various institutions — the military, athletics, education, and the Boy Scouts — gay and bisexual men are regularly characterized as a threat to heterosexual men (and boys). Somehow, a group that reflects less than 4 percent of the US population is seen as a threat to the remaining 96 percent.
Beyond the numbers, heterosexuals are systematically privileged in ways that queer people are not. They have more power in society. Where is this threat coming from?
And, the reality I know as a queer man is that I have infinitely greater chance of being attacked by a heterosexual than heterosexuals do by me. I regularly see news reports of some gay man who was severely beaten or killed in a homophobic hate crime, or a transwoman who was the victim of a transphobic murder. Worldwide, our generally peaceful protests just for equal status in society are met with violent riots or threats of violence. In addition to the actual perpetration of violence, many queer people live in fear of violence — the effective outcome of hate crimes across the world.
In terms of sexual violence, queer people are systematically targeted, including childhood sexual abuse, and “corrective rape” perpetrated by heterosexual men against queer women. And, the overwhelming majority of instances of sexual violence against women are perpetrated by heterosexual men; and, those committed against men, regardless of sexual orientation, are perpetrated by straight men, as well.
So, another point of clarification is needed: sexual violence is an expression of power, not sexual desire. By that logic, it is more likely that heterosexual men perpetrate sexual violence than, and even against, gay and bisexual men.
The conflation of gay/bisexual sexual identity with consensual same-sex sexual activity with sexual violence (including pedophilia) is not a concern for the well-being of (heterosexual) boys. True concern would do a better job of disentangling these aspects of sexuality and sexual violence. Continuing to enact homophobic and biphobic discrimination does not protect children from harm (just as excluding gay priests does not prevent sexual abuse in the church).
Rather, these concerns are about maintaining the ugly practice of excluding a marginalized group, which is more likely threatened by the majority than a threat to it. Gay and bisexual boys are being denied participation in this otherwise positive organization. Gay and bisexual men are being denied the opportunity to serve as positive role models, offering a unique perspective that likely still upholds the values of citizenship in BSA. And, heterosexual boys and men are robbed of opportunities to foster positive connections with gay and bisexual boys and men, including the ideal outcome of coming to see gays and bisexuals as humans with great potential rather than deviants, monsters, or villains. The real threat is to an older, closed-minded generation that fears that the younger generation will come to see all people as equals regardless of their sexual identity; so, they aim to prevent this by enacting exclusionary policies.
It is my hope that BSA finally takes a chance on promoting equality for a change — as a person who advocates for equality, but also a queer ex-Boy Scout.