BSA: Gay Maybe Okay—But Not if You’re Over 18

This weekend, the Boy Scouts of America took another step towards its long-anticipated decision on the question of whether homosexuals will be permitted to join the organization.

The answer: sort of. 

According to BSA, next month at its national council meeting, the organization will ask 1400 members to approve a new policy that permits young men who identify as gay to join the organization, while rejecting membership applications from self-identified gay adults, as it said in a statement:

The Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. The proposed resolution reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.

 

The split between how the organization views young (and ostensibly sexually inactive) gay-identified Scouts and adult (and therefore ostensibly sexually active) gay-identified would-be Scout leaders resembles in its outlines LDS Church policies for dealing with gay members.

About one-third of all BSA troops nationwide are affiliated with LDS Church congregations. LDS Church policy prescribes special annotation of the membership records of adult members who participate in homosexual behavior. No formal explanation for the policy has been given, but many sources say it is to prevent homosexual members from being appointed to lay clerical positions in the Church’s youth programs.

The new BSA policy appears to mirror this LDS Church policy in differentiating between gay youth and gay adults. Both also carry the implication that gay adults are less trustworthy in positions of responsibility with children—a widely-rejected canard associating homosexuality with child sexual abuse.

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Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.