LETTER TO THE EDITOR – My initial reaction to Kate Dalley’s “Perspectives” column regarding the Boy Scouts of America’s potential change to it’s policies regarding openly gay scouts was to grab onto a handrail. After all, her circular logic was enough to make anyone dizzy. Combined with the misleading headline and clearly inflammatory image of a modified merit badge, the entire piece serves little purpose other than to incite feelings of unfounded fear and fuel the bigotry that so often surrounds discussions of LGBT equality.
Dalley begins her piece by stating that “sexual identity has nothing to do with scouting,” then spends her entire column justifying a policy that targets the sexual identity of one particular group of scouts. She is correct that there is no merit badge devoted to sexuality, and the proposed change to the BSA’s policy would certainly not introduce one. But, Dalley, simply by mentioning the idea of a badge for sexual identity or sex education, insinuates that this new policy intends to create such a badge. Pandering to the base fears of her readership, Dalley immediately uses innuendo to shore up her position.
Dalley also works to prove her point by defining what it means to be “open” or “private.” She points out that she does not flaunt her heterosexuality or her Mormonism, and states that she does not “evangelize everywhere (she) goes.” That’s not only an interesting position for someone who makes sure to share her Mormon faith, but also whose bio at the end of the column states she is married. Considering she resides in Utah, we can all conclude she’s married to a man and is therefore heterosexual. You see, Dalley is extremely confused about the differences between openness, privacy and evangelism. In Dalley’s mind, she isn’t flaunting her heterosexuality; however, with simple acts such as stating she is married, holding hands with her husband in public or fixing his crooked collar she is doing just that. Those acts for Dalley are considered normal, endearing and innoccuous, but any of those acts between me and my partner constitute an “agenda” that we’re “shoving down everyone’s throats.” Along those lines, scouts who talk about their dates or the crushes they have are being open about their sexuality whether it’s a part of the program or not.
The key flaw in Dalley’s argument is her continued insinuation that changing the policy will open the door for gay scouts and scout leaders to “evangelize” homosexuality in meetings and other programs. The fact is, almost all scouts and scout leaders who have been expelled under this discriminatory policy never made any indication they were gay at a scouting event. Most were expelled because they were “found out” in other aspects of their lives, for instance a leader seen at dinner in a restaurant with his partner by a parent, or a scout who came out to others at school. In the vast majority of cases those expelled from the program never deviated from the actual program and were instead persecuted for being open and honest in other aspects of their lives. In reality openly gay scouts and leaders pose no threat to the virtues and benefits of the scouting programs.
Dalley points out the BSA is a private organization and should not be forced to cow tow to minority organizations and causes. On this single point she’s right; however, she fails to recognize that as a private organization, the BSA is reliant on the generosity of contributions from donors. Many of those donors are other large, private entities. More specifically, they are large corporations that have their own non-discrimination policies. The BSA has put them in a bit of a quandary; continue to financially support an organization in direct conflict with the donors’ own equality and inclusion policies, or rescind their support. Or, perhaps there’s a third option, which is to exert a little pressure on the BSA to modify its policy. To Dalley’s point, the BSA is a private organization, free to create and enforce its own policies, but in relying on private donations can sometimes come at a cost.
In the end, I agree with Dalley. Policies regarding sexual identity have no place in the Boy Scouts of America, which is why it makes perfect sense to eliminate a policy that is outdated, hurtful and completely irrelevant.
Submitted by: Hunter Wolfe, Ivins, Utah
Ed. Note: Letters to the Editor are published “as received” without edit except as to type-characters not AP wire-friendly.
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