Boy Scouts can still set example of courage

Time for the Boy Scouts of America to earn their most important merit badge yet <WC>—<WC1> righteousness.<WC> <WC1><WC>

<WC1>This iconic institution in a neckerchief has marched all the way to the <WC>U.S. <WC1>Supreme Court to reinforce its right to keep openly gay and lesbian adults from participating in the Scouting tradition.<WC> <WC1>At long last, they are thinking twice about that ban.

<WC>"<WC1>Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation<WC>"<WC1> is the statement the Boy Scouts of America National Council <WC>released<WC1> Monday.<WC>

<WC1>Welcome to this century, Scouts.

What was once a staple of American boyhood <WC>—<WC1> knots, camping, pinewood derby cars <WC>—<WC1> has become, for too many, a symbol of intolerance based on thinking born of a time when you actually did have to know how to start a fire with a couple of sticks.

I hate it and I don't agree with it, but I believe the Scouts' leadership believed equating homosexuals with pedophiles would end their child abuse problems.

Last fall, I spent many long, dark days buried in about 2,000 pages of sex abuse reports from the Boys Scouts' <WC>"<WC1>perversion files,<WC>"<WC1> a trove of documents that the Scouts amassed to hunt and snare the child abusers preying on their boys.<WC> <WC1>The files, compiled since the 1920s, were private until a court ruling forced many of them into the light last year.<WC> <WC1>The stories, interviews and incidents were stomach-churning. Some of the reports were even written in the boys' own awkward handwriting.<WC> <WC1>And the pattern I saw emerge was consistent with some of the skewed thinking of the time.

<WC>"<WC1>Homosexual<WC>"<WC1> was the conclusion reached on many investigations of pedophile Scout leaders. <NO1>Whether it was evidence of a same-sex liaison, fey behavior or visit to a known gay bar, that was enough to get someone a perversion file.

<NO>In some cases, there was an arrest and a conviction for the rape of a child. And still, the label some of them got on the mimeographed perversion file form was not <WC>"<WC1>pedophile<WC>"<WC1> or <WC>"<WC1>criminal<WC>"<WC1> or <WC>"<WC1>rapist.<WC>"<WC1> Just <WC>"<WC1>homosexual.<WC>"<WC1> At some point, after hundreds and hundreds of incident reports <WC>—<WC1> cases where the abuser was almost always a man molesting a boy <WC>—<WC1> the Boy Scouts' leaders must have simply figured that banning gay men would solve their problem.

But guess what? The abuse didn't stop. Homosexual does not mean pedophile. It didn't back then, and it doesn't now.

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