Gay Boy Scouts? What Happened to Our Boys?
Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has expanded to include the involvement of up to 2.3 million youth, both girls and boys. The Boy Scouts of America functions with the assistance of 900,000 adult volunteers. The Scouts were originally founded to “to teach patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred values” to boys.
However, the Boy Scouts have changed dramatically since, starting with a new name. In 2019, the title was officially changed to Scouts BSA. Its values and guidelines have altered in the last 100 years or so. In 2010 girls were allowed to join the scouting organization. Then, in 2013, the BSA lifted all restrictions on sexual orientation. Later, in 2015, it lifted its ban on gay scoutmasters, despite the organization’s history of sexual abuse by the same.
However, the latter was not a choice made by the BSA but forced on the organization by litigation. Let’s look at some of the history.
The Boy Scouts of America Once Furthered Morality
The expectations of a good BSA member, both the youth participants and the adult volunteers, are laid out within the Scout Oath and Law. An upstanding Scout is described as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Each BSA unit employs activities centered around these qualities in order to strengthen the same attributes in its members.
The BSA expects every Scout and Scoutmaster to act in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The young Scouts and adult Scoutmasters are to fulfill a threefold duty: to God, to others, and to themselves.
- The duty towards God includes following the religious instruction of those who know and serve God. The Catholic Church is in the top three organizations associated traditionally with the Scouts. All scouts should remember the people who made sacrifices to ensure the safety and prosperity of its citizens.
- A duty towards others includes helping those in need and having a positive attitude.
- The duty towards oneself is upheld by staying “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight” [emphasis ours].
The US Scout Service Project very loosely defines “morally straight.” They define it as merely keeping relationships honest and open. Members are also encouraged to “respect and defend the rights of all people.” This includes clean speech and actions that adhere to one’s religious beliefs. The USSSP wraps up the importance of moral integrity by stating, “The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”
So, though vague in specifics, the BSA still alleges its aim is to raise virtuous men in the American community.
BSA Embraces Homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters
In 1990, the BSA revoked James Dale’s involvement on the grounds that homosexuals were banned from membership.
Shortly thereafter, 19-year-old Dale filed a lawsuit in New Jersey. His lawsuit said that the Boy Scout’s action violated the state’s civil rights laws. After the Boy Scouts lost in the state court, the organization appealed to the Supreme Court.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale that the BSA, a private organization, had the right to include or exclude whomever it wanted. This right was protected by the First Amendment. At the time, the BSA stated that having gay Scoutmasters contradicted the Scout Oath in keeping its members “morally straight.”
In 2013, the Boy Scouts decided to admit openly gay Scouts. Another major change soon followed. In 2015, the ban on gay Scoutmasters was lifted. The organization leaves it up to each individual troop and their sponsors to decide whom they will associate with, but this hands-off approach usually leads to endorsement.
In fact, BSA dedicates a whole paragraph in its Scout or Scoutmaster eligibility requirements to those who have homosexual inclinations. It encourages them to enroll. In just a little over a decade, BSA completely reversed its values regarding homosexual members.
Turning its Back on its Top Supporters
In its actions, the BSA turned its back on many of its staunchly Christian members. The Catholic Church has been among the top three organizations working with the Boy Scouts over time. Now alternative groups that shepherd morality more closely have sprung up. But why the concern?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms homosexuality, the inclination of being sexually attracted to the same sex, is inherently disordered (CCC 2357). This is because the sexual act is reserved for marriage and open to the procreation of children. It should be stressed that same-sex inclinations or attractions, though disordered, are not sinful in themselves, unless acted upon. All members of the Church indeed are governed by chastity, according to their state in life. (For instance, all singles practice abstinence.)
Understanding this, the Church exhorts its members to receive those who experience same sex attraction with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” (CCC #2358). They are loved as children of God. Holy Mother Church recognizes the dignity of all mankind, made in the image of God. She does so without deviating from teaching Christ’s Gospel message.
Needless to say, the BFA could assign your child a scoutmaster who may be a source of confusion as your child learns the faith.
Sexual Perversion Within the BSA
The Boy Scouts of America, in changing its policies to include homosexuals, opened Pandora’s box. An all-male organization including gays should have secured the protection and safety of the young Scouts participating in the BSA. When looking at individual cases, as in the case of the Catholic Church, there are many situations where teens were preyed upon. While often termed “pedophilia,” the term can be misleading, as attacks on older boys may quantify as same-sex assaults/rapes. To the misfortune of communities across America, over 7,000 cases of pedophilia have have surfaced to date.
An L.A. Times investigation revealed that BSA often covered up the abuser’s tracks for the sake of the reputation of the organization. This is endangering thousands of children’s lives.
The LA Times has built a database tracking the sexual abuse allegations found in these files, dating from the 1940’s to the 2000’s. In 2012 the Oregon Supreme Court demanded that these “perversion files” go public.
As new cases continue to surface, the BSA had to consider filing for bankruptcy.
BSA Continues its Downward Moral Trend
The BSA first introduced the Youth Protection program in the 1980’s, 40 years after the first documented sexual abuse case. This program was meant to help protect youth from abuse.
It took until 2003 for the BSA to require criminal background checks all new leaders. At first, this requirement was grandfathered in, meaning leaders who joined before 2003 would not need a criminal background check. It took another 5 years, in 2008, for all leaders before 2003 to be subject to this requirement.
In 2018, the BSA required that all leaders complete Youth Protection Training and have a background check. In addition to this, guidelines specifically prohibit any sexual conduct with Scouts. It strictly outlines failure to comply with the Scouter Code of Conduct, which may result in revocation of membership in BSA. Although these policies are a good step toward protecting the lives of children, they fall short of their goal if they are unenforced.
The BSA continues to cave to ideological social pressures. In 2017, the organization publicized that it would give transgender “boys” (girls who self-identify as boys) scouting membership and transgender girls (boys who self-identify as girls) and that they would be placed in a troop of kids of the same gender they identify with. In a statement, BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said, “Starting today, we will accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application. We will also continue to work with families to find scouting unites that are the best fit for their children.”
What that means is that each troop must now work to find a place for children who identify as the opposite sex. This poses a unique set of problems for the children in these troops. For instance, what happens during overnight events or camping trips? What about bathroom and shower facilities?
We are sacrificing the innocence and comfort level of children to cater to woke ideology.
Sexuality and transgender issues are not issues that young children and teens should be forced to face. Aside from the damage and confusion it causes to those around the transgender child, we must think about the well-being of the gender-confused child. When society allows young children or teens to identify and dress as the opposite sex, we are doing them a disservice. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. We’re simply covering the problem rather than addressing it.
Gender dysphoria is real, and it’s a very difficult issue for parents and the child to grapple with. But the solution is not to change a child’s identity or to have the child live as the opposite sex. The solution is to find the underlying problem and work with children who feel gender dysphoria so that they can learn to love themselves without living as the opposite sex. When organizations like the BSA fail to help parents protect children, we must speak up.
In a separate incident, the Boy Scouts also shocked many of its councils and associated organizations when it announced that condoms would be readily available at its July 2019 global convention. Scouts Canada, the Boy Scouts of America, and Asociación de Scouts de México were all compelled to participate.
Needless to say, encouraging sexual promiscuity is hardly raising the moral leaders of tomorrow.
How to Protect Your Children
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a few suggestions on how to ensure Scouting remains safe and sticks to Catholic values at the local level (see question 10). If one opts to remain in the BSA, it encourages a strong relationship between BSA troops and religious education programs, troop members and diocesan workers. Parental involvement in local BSA councils is highly recommended.
The alternative is to seek out a new scouting organization. The USCCB also enumerates many other Scouting options that are available to young boys and girls, such as:
- National Catholic Committee on Scouting
- National Catholic Committee for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire
- American Heritage Girls National Catholic Committee
- National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
- National Catholic Committee of Trail Life USA
These organizations and committees essentially partner with their local church and respective Scouting administration to create a more personalized Scouting experience for their youth, focused on strong adherence to Christian values.
It is a sad sight. A once-valuable organization for the formation of young boys has degenerated into a poor ghost of itself. In deviating from its original values, it fails appallingly in promoting moral integrity in its youth.
This article was most recently updated in April 2023.