Friday, March 19, 2010

What Every Boy Scout Dreams Of

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a one of the largest contingents of Boy Scouts of any other organization. In 1913, the Church adopted Scouting as part of the activity program for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. Under priesthood leadership, Scouting, they say, can complement the purposes of Aaronic Priesthood quorums - helping boys and young men love and serve the Savior. It's current young men's program for physical, social and, to a degree, spiritual development is embrace scouting as a template.

There has been a call of late for LSD Leadership to separate the church young men's program from the BSA. The right wing feels that the BSA may eventually require Mormons to allow homosexuals to serve in leadership positions. The left wants this separation because it supports homosexuals in what would be these same leadership positions.

The Scout oath requires participants to remain "Morally Straight" begging a question- There have been questions raised regarding the oath's implications that scouts are to be literally straight -heterosexual- or are inference that morally straight means keeping sex to marriage.

Agreeing to either interpretation sets off alarms. Are boys who many have had pre-marital sex (assuming that these teens are not married) able to take the oaths, complete merit badges and go on bad camp outs? Is everybody gay or straight required to report moral cleanliness to scout leaders? Or just gay? Is the oath literal? How much so? Just a nice goal for the wall-kind-of-thing? A stricture? A guideline?

Maybe I am missing the point. As a scout, I was not dieing to go camping - gotta tell 'ya. Today, as an adult, I still would rather snake the toilet that camp. But I think the decision to scout or not scout should be mine. Honestly, I don't know how many gay teens would feel deprived to not-camp. But it should be their choice.

To my understanding, Mormons have adopted a type of Don't Ask Don't Tell Concerning Homosexuals and the youth. Two possible reasons may be...

1. Men without temple recommends are not commonly found in leadership positions. Leadership in Mormon scouting is a church calling. Any sex outside of marriage keeps one from a Temple recommend - therefore, no calling.
2. An out-gay-man-recommend-worthy would be frowned on because of the perception that gays are more likely to be pedophiles.

Odds are that there are not a lot of Gay Mormon Men that are Temple recommend holding. This means that there just is not a huge contingent of guys I should be worried about.

It's just that I can see where this could go. Anti-gay activists have routinely asserted that gay people are child molesters. The Vatican's early response to the 2002 revelations of widespread Church cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained. What will be the response of the LDS Church to increasing allegations of child sexual abuse?

Though researchers have failed to find a connection between homosexuality and child molestation*, as a people it seems we have strung child molesters/abusers and gays on the same rope.

A recent civil case in Multnomah County, Oregon Circuit Court involves a former assistant BSA Scoutmaster who has admitted to committing Male/Male sexual abuse with a minor for abuse that occurred in the 1980s. BSA attorney Charles T. Smith said he would call experts who would testify that sexual abuse of children wasn't a problem specific to the Scouts but one that occurs throughout society.

Being a Gay Mormon man does not make me a candidate for molester/abuser of children.

Being morally straight, gay or not, still means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character.

Can I be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly...and be a Gay Mormon Man? Of course. Can I be a Gay Mormon Man and a leader of young men? Of course. Having said that, as a father and a man of strong character (strong meaning obnoxious in this case), I find myself on both the side to protect children and to promote the use of temple worthy SSA men.

Though there are those who slip through the cracks, I believe the current policy concerning current pre-requisition for authority for LDS BSA to be up to the task of protecting young men from abusive. While worse case scenario thought and prevention standards from current and future leaders of our young men continues, we can add the sensitivity and strength of SSA males as capable leaders and mentors.

*Dr. Carole Jenny and her colleagues reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the sexually abused children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children's hospital during a one-year period (from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992). The molester was a gay or lesbian adult in fewer than 1% in which an adult molester could be identified.


  1. Slightly off point I think, but would anyone let their kid be alone with anyone, gay or straight? I think the church and others are right in not having children and adults alone together. As far as equal rights for all, I agree with you. There is still going to be pissed off parents.

  2. I think you failed to mention it, but the case in Oregon actually involves an LDS boy scout troop and the Bishop knew about the abuse, but was he was apparently still allowed to hold his Boy Scout calling.,0,5672708.story

  3. Mister Curie- There is a lot more to the story then mentioned in that news article, so any conclusion that the church allowed the abuse to continue while knowing about it is premature.

    I remember when I was little and going with my older brother and other scouts to work at the fishing expo, (this was then the debate about gay leaders was fresh in the news). They told me to put my little shoulder ribbon up-side-down to signify I didn't want gay leaders. I refused (shocking for me to do back then) under the following assumption:

    The term "Morally Straight" was used against gays in scouting, so I said, "well what about physically strong, are fat kids to be kicked out too?

    I, like you, mentioned, said it was more a clean moral code, instead of orientation code.

  4. Is there a third reason the church as unofficially adopted the DADT? What if, and I am hoping this to be true. What if they are trying to not talk about a mans gayness to support the stance that it is none of their business? If I go to a temple recommend interview and pass and have not lied, is my sexuality an issue?

  5. Cal,

    I've just started reading your blog and I find it inspiring. My mother came out of the closet when I was in high school and has fully embraced her new lifestyle and community. Now I have a daughter of my own (4 months old) and I've been thinking a lot about the things that I want to introduce her to. I've been thinking about scouting organizations and this post illustrates many things that have crossed my mind.

    I want my daughter to be a part of something, but I'm also torn by the bigoted ideas that I see in some of these places.

    Keep fighting the good fight. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    P.S. That PWD track is amazing!

  6. I was a scout when I was young. It was the only contact I had with other guys. I was a nerd enough that guys would rarely interact with me on their own. Though I panicked when they striped for skinny dipping and I sucked playing basketball, it was a time I felt like one of the guys. I would hate anyone to miss out on that because of fear. And no one abuses a kid under my watch.