Prepared for change: There have always been gay scouts

Details of a Boy Scout uniform worn in front of the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez … Continued

Details of a Boy Scout uniform worn in front of the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez — AP)

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” This week, gay Boy Scouts are prepared for equality. At the same time, they are prepared for discrimination. They know that even if the policy changes to allow gay Boy Scouts, there will still be those who discriminate. There will be those who are frightened by change and by the full range of human expression of love and family.

National leaders of the Boy Scouts, BE PREPARED to look into the eyes of real boys, and take the next step toward equality.

As the leader of the Metropolitan Community Churches with ministries in almost every U.S. state and 40 countries, I have looked into the eyes of untold number of people—young and old alike. I have seen the look of people who have been persecuted and I have seen the look of people who have been respected. I want to see more joy, more pride, and more freedom in the eyes of gay boys who are in Boy Scouts.

It might surprise some people that there are already gay Boy Scouts. There have always been gay Boy Scouts because there have always been gay boys. Mostly, they have kept silent and wondered why they were different. Today, gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people are coming out earlier and earlier. Those of us who came out in our late teens, twenties, thirties or later, also knew we were different, but many of us saw no visible support around us to understand who we were or to feel safe enough to come out.

Today, the movement is huge, and young people know they are not alone.

Do not punish these boys for trusting they are not alone and for believing they are equal before God and the law. Do not ask them to leave. Do not tell them they are not good enough. Do not tell them that all of the badges they have earned are worthless. Some have already earned their “God and Country” emblem but this debate is saying loudly and clearly that if they are gay, they should never have been in Boy Scouts at all. Stop the harm!

Perhaps one day, there will be a Pink Triangle Badge of Courage for those boys who brave the bullying and prejudice to speak out if they are gay and learn about Stonewall, the Mattachine Society, and Matthew Sheppard. Straight boys will wear the Pink Triangle Badge of Courage when they learn the history of the thousands of gays who died under Hitler; they will study the travesties of fundamentalist religions that preach judgment rather than love.

Boy Scout leaders, BE PREPARED for more work. You still have to address the discrimination against adult troop leaders who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. You will still need to educate all members and leaders about what human diversity looks like. But, for now, BE PREPARED to look into the eyes of all the boys you are leading. If you make the right decision, be prepared to see the eyes of boys who are not afraid of persecution—they will be prepared to stand up for themselves, knowing they have the backing of the leaders they are trying to emulate.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with a sitting president in 1979. She recently completed a term as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Read also:

The Boy Scouts’ leadership loss


  • marcluxjd

    The BSA delegates should learn from the Scouts’ own history in dealing with race segregation — it is not an honorable history, but courageous scout leaders finally prevailed in integrating counsels and troops.

  • FrenchChef

    My father–our Scoutmaster–fought racial prejudice and segregation in the BSA in the 1960s.

  • An-Toan

    Thank you for your ministry regarding these important concerns. Apart from some ridiculous yet malicious remarks in the Bible, I don’t understand why so many Westerners think there is some sort of inherent contradiction between sexuality and spirituality. The Jesus didn’t say any of that stuff so why all the fuss? I study the Sermon on the Mount and I believe the Jesus loves and accepts the LGBT, too.

  • jay2drummer

    People tend to read into the bible what they want, and are often able to interpret it in order to confirm to their biases. And since they believe that their interpretation is the right one, they feel the need to force everyone to live by it also.

  • immigrant1

    Funny how the title mentions that the gays have always been there. I totally agree, they have. And there was a never a policy that prevented them from joining. So then I ask what is this whole issue really about?

  • immigrant1

    NO the problem is people want to memorize scriptures that mean something to them but they don’t want to truely understand the whole Word of God. It’s very similar to the way most of us study in school. We study only what we need to pass the course. If we truely want to learn Math we would continue to study it. Not just up to Trigonometry or what the institutions require of us in order to graduate. We should make it a life long study before claiming to be a SME. Who among you who are commenting here are SME’s of religion. I bet I could count you in one hand, if that.

  • immigrant1

    Totally a different issue

  • immigrant1

    So now you want to open the gates of hell to the other scouts. I don’t get your reasoning. If those so called Scout master who were guilty of abusing other boys would’t they be gay or are you saying they were all pedophiles? DId you study this to find out which of those 5000 belonged to which group?

  • jay2drummer

    There most certainly was a policy against them, both from being Scouts and being leaders. A policy created in the 1980s. That they’ve “always been there” ignores the fact that in order to do so, they had to hide themselves, which no person should ever have to do, and which can be quite harmful to a person.

  • FrenchChef

    The real issue is the BSA leadership has been promoting anti-gay propaganda, immigrant1. Despite the efforts of anti-gays to conflate LGBT Americans with criminal child sexual assault, the evidence is that LGBT Americans are less likely than married, heterosexual men to commit that crime.

  • FrenchChef

    ” Totally a different issue”

    Science has proven sexual orientation is inborn and unchangeable. Several US federal and several US State High Courts have examined that evidence and ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is similarly unconstitutional as discrimination based on race because BOTH are IMMUTABLE characteristics. That’s where the similarity ends, but it means it’s just as UNCONSTITUTIONAL and WRONG to try to HURT LGBT Americans with these dirty anti-gay Hate Votes as Jim Crow laws were.

  • FrenchChef

    They are all heterosexuals. Sorry, no one is fooled by the standard anti-gay LIE that LGBT Americans commit criminal child sexual assault. The BSA themselves determined these were heterosexuals. Please don’t bother to pretend you didn’t know the BSA BANS LGBT leaders.

  • FrenchChef

    And, immigrant1, I hope you noticed Americans outnumber anti-gays 100 to 1.

  • FrenchChef

    Modern Biblical scholars have proven the Bible was intentionally mistranslated relatively recently in order to provide “Biblical cover” for then-rising levels of homophobia. For example, the word “homosexual” didn’t even exist until 1850. Many major Christian and Jewish denominations condemn misusing the hate-based mistranslations to attack their fellow Americans and are marrying same gender American couples now. About 400 years ago, a group of religious authorities (sanctioned by King James I of England), secretly manipulated the English version of the Bible to reflect their own heterosexual attitude; they opposed the King kissing other men in public. But in revised versions, religious authorities re-defined the Greek word “arsenokoites” of 1 Corinthians 6:9. The most accurate translation, abusers of themselves with mankind [KJV], was pretty vague. Nevertheless, they replaced this vague 5-worded text with the not so vague and purposely targeted 1-word text, “homosexual(s).” Either way you cut it, this text does not describe loving, committed same gender couples. This campaign gave those who were looking for a reason to justify their own homophobia a license to openly express their bigotry.

  • jay2drummer

    Actually, it’s not. It’s just the next step in the same issue of discrimination and bigotry.

  • jay2drummer

    If you believing loving all of Gods children and showing them all proper respect will send you to hell, than I welcome damnation, since at least I know it’s where all the people who work to do good will be sent.

    And they were all pedophiles. Pretty clearly, since they raped children.

  • Chad2011

    There have always been gays in boy scouts, so there is no reason for the boy scouts to change now. Nothing in the boy scout rules says gays have to be quiet about their sexual preference. But if this were an issue of quality, then darn right, neither homosexual or heterosexual boys are allowed to have sex. There is a moral code in boy scouting, but gays want to ignore the core principles of scouting. That’s discrimination on the part of gays. Bullies!

  • leibowde84

    Being a pedophile = being attracted to children. Being gay = being attracted to members of the opposite sex. They are not linked at all. What makes a pedophile a pedophile has nothing to do with whether the victim is of the same sex. It has to do with the fact that the victim is a child and can’t consent. By your definition, immigrant, some pedophiles are gay, but most are heterosexual, as most pedophiles are classified as such for having sexual relations with women that are too young to consent.

  • leibowde84

    I’ve had just about enough of this “pedophiles are gay” stuff. It is idiotic. Are people really stupid enough to think that pedophelia is a homosexual disease?! I mean, for God’s sake, there are heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles. Where do they get this garbage from?!

    Being a pedophile = being attracted to children. Being gay = being attracted to members of the opposite sex. They are not linked at all. What makes a pedophile a pedophile has nothing to do with whether the victim is of the same sex. It has to do with the fact that the victim is a child and can’t consent. By your definition, immigrant, some pedophiles are gay, but most are heterosexual, as most pedophiles are classified as such for having sexual relations with women that are too young to consent.

  • leibowde84

    * same sex

  • Todd Parham

    Having these kids wear badges advertising thier homosexuality will make it easier for pedophiles to spot their quarry to say little of being harassed by kids their own age. Labelization invites persecution in the absence of legal protection.

  • dcrswm

    “Got to heaven for the climate, hell for the company” – M. Twain

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