As the date of the Next Boy Scouts National Council meeting approaches on May 20th, everyone is wondering if they will accept homosexual scoutmasters. Officially the resolution only talks about teens, “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” yet I wonder if this is just a first step to add scoutmasters in a year or two.
I think we will see homosexual scoutmasters in the next few years. Why? Because of how they view the role of the scoutmaster. They are two ways to view scoutmasters, coaches or youth ministers: technicians or mentors.
I also want to touch on the issue of gays as boy scouts. It’s a separate issue. However, the two issues are often combined unjustly by both sides. I’ll treat them separately.
Technicians and Mentors
A technician is someone who knows an art, a craft, a skill. A mentor, on the other hand is someone who is a model for life. I only need a technician to fix my car or teach me piano. A mentor may not have certain skills but has a moral life you want to emulate, or you want your son to emulate.
If a scoutmaster is seen as only someone who teaches how to tie knows and start a fire without matches he is a technician. Telling gays they can’t is then discrimination. If the scoutmaster is a mentor, then we can prohibit those whose moral life does not conform to the morals we want to teach our problem.
The national organization has already accepted the technician view of the scoutmaster. If they have not already fully embraced that model, this meeting will probably be the last straw of accepting it.
I’ve scanned a whole slew of blogs and news stories on this issue and I have yet to come across one where a single top-ranking Boy Scout leader has pointed out that the scoutmaster should be a mentor, model, etc. One could argue that the official resolution is just about teens, but the debate has been more about adults than teens. If anybody at the top-level believed that scoutmasters were mentors, they would bring this up – I could even see a liberal bringing it up in a twisted way to support lifting this ban.
The mentor role of prohibiting can easily slip into discrimination if not applied evenly. I doubt they will do this. This would mean prohibiting not just gays but men who are publicly known as dishonest businessmen, adulterers or drunkards. Homosexuals have a solid case if they argue that the Boys scouts don’t prohibit these categories of moral issues. Without exceptionally strong moral leadership, I doubt they could prohibit these guys.
Basically, the boy scouts are stuck between either kicking out a bunch of other scoutmasters, or accepting homosexual ones. It comes down to the mentor or the technician.
Scouts in Trouble
Gay teens in Scouts are a very different issue because they generally aren’t mentors, and because teenage homosexuality is often just a phase. It doesn’t seem right to kick them out just because they are having this difficulty; when a teen is going through a tough phase we should try to bring him closer, not push him away.
On the other hand homosexual teens could create problems. Imagine the division in the group if Johnny is flirting with other boys or if Adam and Steve start going out. You can’t just have full acceptance since that will then be used to protect these behaviors. Unfortunately in our society accepting gays means accepting every gay behavior not just the person.
Somehow you need a nuanced view. Individual troops can accept homosexual teens but can also send kids away for disruptive homosexual behavior. Something like the view of the Church that loves the homosexual yet hates his sexual sins. I hope that the members of this council have the wisdom to see this distinction.
In recent weeks there’s been a bunch of debate over information – misleading or accurate – put out by people on both sides of this possible policy change. I can’t add to what’s been said on 20 other blogs.
The willpower to really take on a view of scoutmasters as mentors is lacking. As a homosexual man can fix my car, he can teach knot-tying. This meeting may only accept gay teens but not leaders; however, unless they change their mentality, they will eventually accept homosexual scoutmasters. Then, the scouts will now join the long list of groups that have fallen to pressure from the homosexual lobby; and they won’t be the last.
I hope they won’t become live scouts in my homeland (Canada) where they present the option of attending gay pride events on their own website.
I listed 3 options on this blog post 2 months ago when this issue first came up.