Facebook seemed to rejoice yesterday as news spread that the Boy Scouts of America would be allowing gay kids to join and stay in their little club. In a week that was filled with heartrending tragedy and absolute horror, I don’t mind a little happiness in what is clearly a step in the right direction. But I wouldn’t be known around town as “you mean that weird looking buzz kill guy?” if I weren’t about to say what I’m about to say.
But first, let me catch you up to speed. The Boy Scouts have been operating under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy towards gay scouts and a “don’t even think about it” policy towards gay scout leaders for years. Obviously, there have still been gay scouts (and gay scout leaders) over the years but I guess the Boy Scouts think gayness is like Voldemort and gains power if you say the word out loud. It was a backward, harmful, vile policy that placed a large burden onto our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable people due to very adult homophobia. It’s a shameful policy that can be measured in the concrete terms of how many suicides and instances of bullying it caused. It also fosters an atmosphere of general “wrongness” associated with homosexuality that the Gay Rights Movement has been working tirelessly to stamp out. Finally, sensing the winds of change after it had already blown past them, the Boy Scouts mobilized and… well first they voted to keep banning gays, BUT THEN yesterday they finally announced that change had come to the Scouts.
Unfortunately, this is not much of a victory. The Boy Scouts have instituted a policy that says you can be gay as a Scout but still not as a leader (because, this is still 1950 and homosexuals are all, presumably, sexual deviants and pedophiles). The idea that once you turn 18 your homosexuality is wrong makes things even more confusing and it points to the Boy Scouts move being less about (FINALLY) catching up with the 21st century and more about that dreaded “tolerance” that I wrote about before. This is truly exciting, I get to quote myself:
Gay rights can never fully be successful until the ground we build its foundation on is not the sands of tolerance but the bedrock of understanding.
It’s hard to think that they truly respect and value the membership of ALL of their Scouts if there is still a policy in place that doesn’t allow some of them to become leaders themselves. After all of this, they still think there is something wrong with gay people. This will change, of course. We are living in a society that has passed the Rubicon and cannot go anywhere but forward, but it can still be frustrating that some people continue to drag their feet, unintentionally doing more damage along the way as they flail about in insolence.
Which brings us to the conservative response.
As usual, you could count on Rick Perry and other conservatives to handle the news in a truly awful way. In an excellent piece from the Guardian, the conservative response to the news that the Boy Scouts would be allowing gays to go on camping trips and learn to tie various knots was treated like an apocalyptic event.
Rick Perry stands out:
Saddened the BSA bends to the whims of political correctness. governor.state.tx.us/news/press-rel…
— Rick Perry (@GovernorPerry) May 23, 2013
Yep, it was all about political correctness (that pesky catchall term for anything that Rick Perry doesn’t like or makes him feel icky). Allowing children to feel included despite the fact that they are gay is politically correct, but it’s also morally, ethically and socially correct. Rick Perry, a white, Christian, gun owning, red meat eating, male, probably doesn’t understand (and empathy isn’t his strong suit) what it’s like to feel like an outsider. He’s about as insider as you can get so I bet he feels like this is a whole lotta somethin’ over nothin’ (he probably said it like this too because he’s “folksy”), but I beg him to consider what it’s like to be told that the things you feel, the ones that as a kid are awkward and embarrassing enough as it is, are gross and wrong and sinful. Rick, imagine for example being told that because you are a Christian or observing your faith that you shouldn’t be allowed to join something, be somewhere, or be a part of something. That would feel pretty bad, huh? How would you react? Oh, we don’t have to imagine because you freak out about religious persecution all the time. Well, even though you aren’t gay and couldn’t imagine being gay, it’s time for you to stand up for other persecuted groups as well, and that starts with you realizing that letting gays be and lead the Boy Scouts has nothing to do with “political correctness” and everything to do with human decency.
You have modeled yourself as a Boy Scout leader, now lead.