A group opposed to allowing gay Boy Scouts — “On My Honor” — has issued an open letter from its only apparent member, John Stemberger, urging opposition to the proposed change, which would allow gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders. Among the ten arguments are offensive lies and stereotypes about gay people, as well as arguments that aren’t even substantively relevant:
1. Allowing Gay Scouts But Not Leaders Is Inconsistent
This argument is actually valid, making it one of the weakest presented in the letter, because it supports an inclusive policy for all Scouts and leaders, not a continuation of the ban. The only inconsistency in the membership policy is that it excludes people who are gay (and atheist). On My Honor may even be correct that the inconsistency “will surely draw an equal protection lawsuit,” but that is the fault of the Boy Scouts of America for trying to cling to some form of discrimination.
2. Boy-On-Boy Sexual Contact Will Increase
This argument conflates sexual orientation with sexual behavior, while promulgating the myth that people who are gay are predatory. The implication is that gay teenagers should never even be allowed to go camping because they’re a threat to their straight friends. Such fear-mongering serves only to further demonize the gay community.
3. All Troops Will Have to ‘Facilitate Open Homosexuality’
This isn’t a new argument; it’s merely a complaint derived from a desire to discriminate.
4. So Many Will Leave In Protest That The Scouts Will Collapse
If “tens- and possibly hundreds of thousands of parents and Scouts” leave the BSA, as On My Honor suggests they will, it’s an insult to the very integrity of the program to begin with. Rather than supporting the many values and lessons the Scouts stand for, these individuals will prove their only reason for participation in the Scouts was because the organization is anti-gay.
5. Parents Will Lose Their Right To Shield Their Kids From Learning About Gay People
Like argument #2, this claim relies on the false assumption that being gay automatically makes an individual somehow more “sexual.” Having gay Scouts will not increase the level of discussion about sex anymore than having straight Scouts does. Even a “17-year-old gay activist openly flaunting his sexuality and promoting a leftist political agenda” would honor the Scouts’ commitment to improving society by being helpful, friendly, courteous — and particularly brave.
6. The Scouts Are Caving To Pressure From Society
On My Honor is disappointed that it was just last year that the Scouts decided that banning gay Scouts was “the absolute best policy,” but now “BSA’s top leadership is more concerned about what is popular in the polls taken outside the Scouting family.” When that decision was made, the Scouts refused to explain it, likely because there is no sensible justification for it. Since then, the organization has lost the corporate sponsorship of Intel, UPS, and Merck, so it’s not surprising its leaders became less attached to a policy they couldn’t even defend.
7. Units Who Don’t Comply Will Be Legally Vulnerable
Like argument #1, this concern simply reveals the inconsistency of allowing gay Scouts but not leaders. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of BSA’s policy in 2000, Chief Justice William Rehnquist argued that the BSA engages in “expressive association.” If that expression is applied inconsistently, it would no longer define — or protect — the organization. This argument is simply a redundant concern that units will no longer be able to get away with discrimination.
8. The Policy Will Allow ‘Transgendered Girls’ In the BSA
First of all, transgender girls would probably be more interested in the Girl Scouts, which they’re actually welcome to join. Contrary to On My Honor’s fears, gender identity has nothing to do with sexuality whatsoever. Transgender boys should be allowed to join the Boy Scouts, but that form of inclusion is not addressed by this policy. The language “sexual preference” in the proposed change is disappointing, but only because it’s inaccurate nomenclature for sexual orientation.
9. Language In The Resolution Is Merely Symbolic
On My Honor seems to think it’s consequential that the “whereas” statements that justify the resolution will not be part of the policy once it’s approved. It apparently has no qualms about putting forth its own symbolic arguments.
10. Many In the Scouting Family Support Discrimination
On My Honor conveniently ignores the most recent survey that specifically addressed the policy on gay Scouts to cite an older survey with less supportive results. Still, trying to argue a “moral” point from a claim of popularity compromises what moral integrity the position even has.
It’s unclear if On My Honor represents anybody other than its founder, John Stemberger. Nevertheless, other anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council are supporting his efforts. Through this open letter, he has shown not only a lack of understanding but a significant antipathy for the gay community. Scouts For Equality called the letter, “a new low,” but arguably this is the same low the Scouts’ policy has perpetuated for years.