The defiant refusal by the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider their policy of banning openly gay people from participating reminds me of my story of Max and Mary, who lost their daughter, Martha, to suicide, after rejecting her and casting her out of their house and their lives. That sad tale resonated with more than fifteen hundred readers, far and away the most clicks I’ve ever gotten on a piece for TabooJive. It was fictional and hypothetical, but, wow, did it hit home.
The reason? It’s a story that’s occurring, in the real world, at a positively alarming rate. According to a recent study, 40 percent of the homeless young people in America identify as LGBT.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. “For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.” And gay and lesbian teens are two to three times as more likely to commit suicide than other youths.
This, from the web site Bullying Statistics: “About 30 percent of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. Students who also fall into the gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgendered identity groups report being five times as more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation. About 28 percent out of those groups feel forced to drop out of school altogether. Although more and more schools are working to crack down on problems with bullying, teens are still continuing to bully each other due to sexual orientation and other factors.”
To summarize: Young people in general are already at greater risk for suicide than any other age group, and LGBT youngsters are in the red-hot danger zone.
Then comes this news: The Boy Scouts “reaffirm [their] ban on open gays; [calling] it ‘absolutely the best policy.’” For those of us still able to be shocked by the depth and breadth of overt bigotry, this latest announcement sickens me to my core.
I expect to hear the usual defenses from those who support such institutionalized bigotry, to wit: (1) The BSA is a private organization, and as such can choose who and who cannot join. (2) The BSA is based on Christian morals, and it goes against Christianity to support the homosexual lifestyle. (3, and probably the bottom line) We don’t want our kids influenced by perverts.
But as blogger Black Tsunami writes in his incisive blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, “Seems to me that based upon its recent history, the last thing the Boy Scouts should fear is gay men. We are not the reason it had to pay $18.5 million to a victim of sexual abuse in 2010.”
One of the most outrageous—and completely baseless—claims of homophobes is the correlation between gay men and a predilection for pedophilia. In fact, the research absolutely refutes this idea; it is an assertion born purely of paranoia and bigotry. But it’s nothing new. The defensive majority often demonizes minorities, people they perceive as “other.” In the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of sacrifice killings of Christian babies. In pre Civil-Rights America (and those days are not entirely in the past), African Americans were routinely hung by the neck from trees (the polite word is “lynched”) after being falsely accused of raping White women. The queen of LGBT haters, Anita Bryant, as long ago as the 1970s, warned society to “save our children” from the perceived threat of homosexual predators.
It’s all bunk. Dangerous, lethal bunk. And our kids are paying the price. My thousand-word blog could be a run-on list of young LGBT teens who have taken their lives as a result of not being able to withstand the punishing world into which they were born; by conservative estimates, every year roughly 2,100 LGBT teens commit suicide.
One wonders, in the course of all the “secret” conferring that the BSA did—to come to their well-considered decision to let their ban of gays stand—if a single person among them raised the concern about this epidemic of youth suicides. The Boy Scouts’ flagrant disregard for the growing chorus of voices reasonably protesting this codified prejudice flies in the face of their stated mission, “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”
In spite of a petition signed by hundreds of thousands and hand-delivered by highly decorated Eagle Scout Zach Wahls (who is the son of a lesbian couple); in spite of the excellent record of service by den leaders like Jennifer Tyrrell (ousted for disclosing that she is a lesbian), who hand-delivered her own petition, signed by more than 300,000 people, on July 18, the BSA is holding fast to their “absolutely” best possible policy, thus barring an entire section of the population from its ranks. The Boy Scouts of America have no perch in civilized society, and every good thing they do while claiming they are fostering strong adult men is stained by their hatred and bigotry. In fact, organizations like theirs, with overtly discriminatory policies like theirs, are a serious threat to decency, and to our children.