No out Scouts

By Daryl Lindsey and Fiona Morgan

By Salon Staff

Published June 30, 2000 6:02PM (EDT)

Salon canvassed experts from all sides of the debate? I counted one opinion that this was a good ruling -- and it came from the Boy Scouts. This ruling was in strict accordance with the Scouts' freedom of associative rights, and any other ruling would severely restrict our right to determine our own beliefs.

Homosexual activists are crying about a "lack of tolerance," but what they are really upset about is the lack of acceptance that mainstream American society gives them. Though it is their right to seek tolerance and equality, by attempting to force acceptance, they are infringing upon my rights.

-- Michael Burris

In general, I have a great respect for Salon and find its critical approach to issues very refreshing. But your decision to include -- with one exception (the Boy Scouts) -- quotes only from people critical of the Supreme Court and the Boy Scouts runs counter to everything I have come to expect of Salon.

-- Ross Richey

While technically true, your claim of impartiality by publishing viewpoints from "all sides of debate" is at best disingenuous because you only included one person who sides with the ruling. And perhaps you should shop around for other constitutional scholars. Harvard may be prestigious, but if professor Laurence Tribe believes that freedom of expression is "explicitly enumerated," while the freedom of association is not, an actual reading of the Bill of Rights must not be a very high priority there.

-- John Keck

As a scoutmaster and member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, I believe your article was extremely biased. Of the 10 opinions presented, eight were against the decision and only two supported it. The Girl Scouts and 4-H were mentioned as youth groups who filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of James Dale. But lacking were the opinions of the religious groups, many of whom sponsor the Scouts, who supported the Boy Scouts of America. LDS and the Methodist church sponsor more scouting troops than any other organizations.

Had the Boy Scouts lost this case, LDS would have pulled out of scouting, and Boy Scouts of America would have lost a significant number of members.

-- Steve Eatough

I agree with the Boy Scouts. It appears that the homosexual community is trying to "jam down people's throats" the homosexual lifestyle. As to their rights, they have the same rights I have. Nothing more, nothing less.

-- Jim Jool

I hardly think it evenhanded to give air time to 10 "experts" from around the country on this case who largely share the same viewpoint. As I read the opinions, seven were strongly against the court's decision and the Scouts' position; two seemed to defend the decision but not endorse the Scouts' position; and the only expert Salon was able to "canvass" from across the nation to comment in support of the ruling and the policy was the Boy Scouts' spokesman.

I anticipate a liberal bias from Salon, but 9-to-1? Come on! At least make a superficial effort to be unbiased.

-- Warren Leishman

My dad told me a story last night that sums up the essence of what the Boy Scouts of America stand for. When my dad was a boy in the early 1930s in Fort Worth, Texas, his mother encouraged him to become a member. After joining a troop, the troop leader ridiculed my dad into leaving because his family was too poor to purchase the Scout uniform.

--Rob McBryde

After a year of constant harassment and humiliation from both my fellow Scouts and scoutmasters, I came to the realization that I would never be accepted as "one of the guys." I quit the Boy Scouts and have never looked back.

I find it intriguing that James Dale wants so badly to be reinstated in the organization. Perhaps the boys in New Jersey are friendlier than my old Boy Scout Troop 73 in Oklahoma, but my short stint as an as-yet-un-self-identified gay youth in the Boy Scouts was a horrifying experience. It's an experience I would not wish on any gay person seeking out a values-oriented youth program. For me, it was a terrifying adventure into a values vacuum that weakened relations with my father and left me absolutely terrified of same-sex friendship.

It was in my first Boy Scout meeting that I can remember being called a faggot. I'd heard the word before, but never attached to my name. Scouting also introduced me to a world of drugs, drinking, smoking and sexual activity. In this "values-oriented" program, I was introduced to everything "unclean" that I had been told to avoid, and being "morally straight" I did so, only to be further harassed and ostracized.

I don't see why any gay youth needs to be learning from the Boy Scouts. As a gay youth, I had found great comfort in many all-male environments. I had strong friendships from several sports teams and a core group of BMX-riding neighborhood kids who helped each other against bullies, strangers and other perils as we ventured off our quiet street into the rest of the city.

Good riddance to the bigots.

-- Karl Jones

My first experience of attraction for the same sex occurred sometime in the third grade. It was brought on, I blush to admit, by a He-Man comic book. Sometime thereafter, I became a Cub Scout. If only they had known I would "profess" unabashed homosexuality years later.

Shall I dig up my wolf, bobcat and bear badges, and mail them back, their fraudulence exposed? Perhaps this debacle could have been prevented had I been submitted to some test to determine my sexuality before I was admitted into the den. There are machines that measure male sexual response with a fortuitously placed rubber band. Lend a Playboy to the average guy hooked up to one of these gadgets and you get a readout analyzing the response of his genitals. Of course, it's illegal to show pornography to young boys; but in my case, a perfectly G-rated He-Man comic book would have caused a measurable blip on the arouse-o-meter.

If you can't sniff out the queer ones, at least the heterosexuality of any Scout ought to be certifiable.

My point is this: Worrying about who's heterosexual and who isn't just isn't the place for Scouts. By embracing bigotry, the Scouts have only succeeded in poisoning their ranks with fear and hatred.

-- Aaron Cohn

In San Francisco, the North American Man Boy Love Association meets in the public libraries, which also have children's rooms! Would they accept me, a heterosexual female, as a member? I doubt it, even though they meet on public property and have the same constitutionally protected freedom of association as the Scouts. Simply using a public facility shouldn't make a group subject to our judicial system's opinions on the merits of their association standards. I applaud the Scouts for upholding their standards in this politically correct age. If people want a Scouts-type group with homosexual leaders, they should start one. I dare say not many parents will sign their children up.

-- Monika Rothenbuhler

I'd like to applaud Salon for the wide scope of responses and the very equal representation of views you delivered to your readers. Let's see, you quote the Boy Scouts and then line up seven or eight critics with an axe to grind. Nice work!

-- Brian Neff

Very nice of you to only print one comment that actually agreed with the court in this case -- the official BSA comment. Not exactly fair coverage would you say?

Personally, I think the court got it right -- and saved the Boy Scouts from certain death. If the Boy Scouts were to start allowing gays to become leaders, enrollment would drop. Scout troops typically hold their meetings at local church facilities, which they would likely lose if those churches dropped their support for the Scouts because it openly embraced a policy inconsistent with those of the sponsoring church.

So, what's left for the gay crowd? Gay Scouts? Sure, why not? They'll get plenty of adult volunteers from NAMBLA.

-- Marty McKeever

I am again disappointed in the so-called reasoning of the Supreme Court. If only there were a law prohibiting pedophiles from becoming Scout leaders, then we would have something! Most pedophiles are straight, by the way. Straight folks don't come in "moral" format automatically; morality is learned. Gays come from straight families, and they learn morality as we all do. Isn't it too bad that even at the highest level of justice in this land, ignorance reigns supreme?

-- Sheila Karlson

Salon Staff

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