The national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is scheduled to meet this week in Irving to discuss its policy of mandatory exclusion of gay members and may vote to end the policy. Texas Gov. Rick Perry lost no time in proclaiming his disapproval of such an outcome.
Perry, an Eagle Scout, has been particularly outspoken in his defense of the BSA’s “no-gays” policy. His 2008 book, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” features plenty of such polemical rhetoric, sung to the hyper-conservative tune we’ve come to expect from our state executive and unsuccessful presidential candidate. On Feb. 2, Gov. Perry addressed the Texas Scouts’ 64th annual Report to State, he praised the BSA for maintaining traditional values despite pressure from what he sees as an increasingly immoral society. Bizarrely, Perry blamed today’s high rates of teen pregnancy — which, coincidentally, are disproportionately high in Texas compared to the rest of the nation — on American youth’s departure from Boy Scout values. High teen pregnancy rates are an unlikely justification for BSA’s continued exclusion of gay members. Gay males belong to one of the least likely demographics responsible for contributing to teen pregnancy. But, given the current inadequacies of sex education in Texas schools, Perry might be forgiven in this instance for his misunderstanding.
The governor’s other comments were similarly odd. Perry beseeched the young men not to succumb to “popular culture” by accepting their gay friends into the organization. Instead, he offered an appeal to the masses — presumably the other, more wholesome masses who eschew pop culture — stating, “I think most people see absolutely no reason to change the position and neither do I.” One might assume that the terms “most people” and “popular culture” would significantly overlap, but Perry marched on enthusiastically, apparently unfazed by his inconsistency.
Perry’s characteristically passionate disregard for logical thinking is nothing new. (Remember his presidential debate-performance? “Oops.”)
What made his BSA address so upsetting, rather, was his unapologetic endorsement of a policy of bullying before an organization that serves children. Perry, who maintains the antediluvian notion that being gay is a matter of choice, fails to understand that all BSA’s “no-gays” policy achieves is just another sinister lock on a gay child’s closet door. I was once a Cub Scout, long before I was aware of my sexual orientation or the exclusionary policies espoused by BSA. Fortunately for me, time conflicts with soccer practice precluded me from scaling the ranks of the organization any further, thus sparing me later on the cognitive dissonance that gay Boy Scouts face: I like being a Scout, but the Scouts don’t like me being me.
Perry’s views are increasingly out of touch with social realities in the United States, and it’s high time for the Boy Scouts of America to distance themselves from the toxic influence of such extremists.
Walters is a Plan II junior from Houston.