The BSA’s Straw Men: Attempts to Defend a Bigoted Organization With “Reasonable” Arguments

This post about my son and his unease with the anti-homosexual agenda of the BSA has sparked several conversations with people, online and off. 

Two arguments against the post kept coming up, and from quarters that really surprised me.1

“I’m not directly supporting the BSA’s anti-gay stance.”  You’re lying to yourself.  As long as the national BSA continues to have their ban, paying your membership dues is directly supporting a discriminatory organization.  As long as individual councils and districts maintain that ban, any portion of your money that goes to those organizations, including camping fees, is directly supporting a discriminatory organization.  When you identify yourself as belonging to an organization that prides itself on discriminating against groups of people, you are inherently saying that you approve of that discrimination.

“The BSA provides [services/community/insert thing here] that only an organization can provide or The BSA provides programs that my child can’t get elsewhere.”  That sucks, it really does.  You’re not the only people to face this dilemma.  Take your kid camping on your own.  Write letters to the editor.  Refuse to be silent accomplices to bigotry. Support organizations fighting the ban.  Realize that the ban violates the very things the BSA is supposed to teach.

Also realize that this defense is totally irrelevant, and does not excuse the bigoted behavior.  When (or if) the BSA stops behaving in a bigoted manner, these are the things that will be a justification for returning to it.

For now, given the stance of the BSA, these “reasonable” arguments are crap.  It’s time for the simple-as-hell test to see if something is bigoted:  Substitute the word “gay” with any other word.2

Imagine these two headlines (originals here and here), where I’ve changed only one word:

Boy Scouts of America Delays Decision on Membership Policy Banning Blacks

Boy Scouts to Continue Excluding Hispanic People

I sure as hell hope you wouldn’t be cool with those headlines.

Which makes me wonder why so many people are so cool with the BSA discriminating against gays.

And if they’ll be so cool about it when I start publicly, repeatedly, referring to them as bigots.

1 Yes, I’m referring to someone specifically here. If you’re worried I mean you… well, yes. You should be worried if you think you could be mistaken for a bigot.
2 Except “atheist”, because the BSA discriminates against atheists too… and in practice, good luck if you’re a Scout who is not Christian.  Believe me.

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  1. February 12, 2013

    I think one of the biggest problems is that parents still associate homosexuality with paedophelia. Since the BSA is a children's organisation, even "well-meaning" parents see it as just one more risk factor that can be easily eliminated by excluding a group of people. It's a false sense of security rooted in a lack of education and lifetimes of media sensationalism and organisational corruption. (Personally, I wish the BSA and the GSA would join forces and end exclusivity based on orientation or gender altogether. I do not see the value in dividing the sexes.)

  2. February 12, 2013

    *edit: The Girl Scouts do not abbreviate their organisation as "GSA." They are officially the Girl Scouts of the USA, or simly "Girl Scouts."

  3. February 12, 2013

    I think you've (unfortunately) got a point – I remember arguing that homosexuality and paedophilia are completely separate years and years ago. It's depressing that it's still such a common misconception – and that it puts children at so much greater risk.

    Good point regarding the gender exclusion as well.

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