Though the Boy Scouts of America has not yet explained what conclusions led it to reaffirm that discriminating against gay scouts and leaders was “absolutely the best policy” for its organization, plenty of conservatives have made clear which fallacious anti-gay myth they believe motivated the decision. On his radio show yesterday, Mike Huckabee spelled out in no uncertain terms that he believes the policy is “right” because it protects boys from abuse. He welcomed a call from a listener who had been abused by his scout leader, and Huckabee agreed that part of the definition of “homosexual” is molesting children:
CALLER: I believe homosexuals try to target groups like that, to get a leadership area in, and if there hadn’t have been a homosexual in my troop, I wouldn’t have been traumatized for about three years. [...]
HUCKABEE: I think if anybody wants to argue about this case, they need to hear your story. That’s very powerful. I thank you for having the candor to share it with us, and again, you make us all understand why the Boy Scouts made a decision that I at least think was the right one.
Listen to it:
Comments like Huckabee’s (and the Liberty Counsel’s) are egregiously offensive and harmful. Drawing a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia is the same weak argument John Briggs was making 40 years ago in an attempt to ban gay teachers in California. It’s unfounded slander against the entire gay community.
Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which individuals have a primary or exclusive sexual interest in children. It in no way defines or relates to an individual’s sexual orientation — it refers only to age and level of sexual development. That gay men are attracted to men makes them no more likely to abuse children than straight men because they are attracted to women. As psychologists have stated for years, “There is no inherent connection between an adult’s sexual orientation and her or his propensity for endangering others.”
It may not be, however, a coincidence that incidents of adult men abusing boys appear to be more frequently reported, but this has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Consider the venues in which these abuses have been known to take place: the Catholic Church, sports teams, the Boy Scouts — these are all male-exclusive institutions. It is the gender norms that anti-gay conservatives so often reinforce that create scenarios where men are put in positions of power exclusively over boys. Those same conservatives then highlight the abuse as “homosexual molestation,” ignoring the psychological realities and clinging to their archaic ideals of male bonding. It is mere circumstance that pedophiles seem to abuse boys with more frequency: a measure of access and press attention, not sexual orientation.
One other gaping fallacy that cannot be ignored is that the BSA’s policy doesn’t just impact scout leaders; it impacts scouts as well. Boys enter the Boy Scouts at exactly the same time they are beginning to understand their own sexual orientation. If conservatives like Huckabee believe that banning gays helps protect young people from adult abuse, even that fallacious argument does nothing to explain the value of discriminating against other young people. Indeed, nothing explains the value of any aspect of the BSA’s policy.