Sexuality and flaming
Mon, 16 Sep 1991 23:48:58 -0400
I guess I'm a little bit interested in knowing to whom Paul Russell
was directing that last message. I noted that at least one person
pointed out that Paul had said something along the lines off ``alleged
discrimination'' where BSA is pretty up-front about actively
discriminating. It pointed out a bias, one which Paul acknowledged,
but it didn't really strike me as a flame. I appreciated Paul
bringing up the subject. It is a current issue in the interface
between Scouting and the rest of society, afterall.
My sense, in reading and participating in this discussion, has been
that the real flames have been for those who are less accepting than
Paul. My reading of Paul's messages suggests that Paul has perhaps
had fairly limited exposure to people who are gay and do not hide it,
but that, all in all, e's more willing to exercise tolerance and
acceptance that some.
Some of the messages by people other than Paul were more
``flame-worthy''. When I see someone suggest that another's sexuality
is comparable to having a disease, it upsets me in the same way that
it used to upset me when my grandfather would suggest that black
people were, in some way, not fully human or not as ``good'' as white
people. I have a problem with people making prejudicial judgements
about others simply becuase they are different, especially when they
don't seem to have a lot of background on the differences involved.
It upsets me to see an organization which meant a lot to me while I
was growing up, issuing a blanket rejection of an entire class of
people without cause. While I haven't been active in a while, I was a
Cub Scout from 8 through 10, a Scout from 11 through 17, and a Troop
Committee member from 18 through 20. I held just about every youth
leadership position at one time or another and was an Ordeal member of
the Order of the Arrow.
Anyway, the closest thing that I've seen suggested as a real reason
for rejecting homosexuality is that some people's religion claims that
homosexuality is a sin. And yet:
- Scouting is supposed to teach tolerance of other religions and it
is not the case that all religions reject homosexuality.
- in the case of Judaism and Christianity, the book which labels
homosexuality as sinful also labels shaving facial hair as sinful.
There are denominations of both religions which now deny the
sinfullness of beard shaving and/or homosexuality.
I believe that the *real* reason that BSA has officially rejected
homosexuality has more basis in societal prejudice than in religous
dogma. I am hopeful that BSA will eventually come to recognize that
homophobia has no legitimate basis, just as it abandoned racially
based prejudices in the past. I don't expect this to happen
instantaneously, however I think that sooner is better and that the
current resistance on the part of the organization is making the
Another line of reasoning which I believe is faulty is the suggestion
that people who are gay are flaunting their sexuality unless they hide
it. ``Close friend'' is often not an accurate description. Society
is coming to be fairly accepting of long-term heterosexual
relationships which are more than close friendships. Perhaps
``significant other'' is a more acceptable to some than ``lover'', but
it's a bit contrived and basically society has just not come up with a
term which is both accurate and acceptable to all. There are plenty
of long-term same-sex relationships where the couple has exchanged
rings and vows and raised children together and yet I imagine that
some in this forum would object to someone saying that they were
I don't believe that teaching sexuality is a primary function of
Scouting, however Scouting covers the age when people become aware of
their sexuality and it is naive to believe that adult role models in
Scouting do not affect how Scouts think about sexuality.
Homosexuality is healthy and natural. Teaching that it doesn't exist
or that it must be hidden to a greater extent than heterosexuality is
not healthy and is, in fact, harmful to Scouts whether they are gay,
straight or bisexual.
Eagle Scout, 1980 (Troop 1390, Woodbridge, VA)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City