Anthropologically speaking, humans have a natural tendency to form groups and grow an “us vs. them” mentality. We not only like to feel a kinship with other people similar to us but we also tend to exclude those who aren’t. This principle is at the core of many cultural issues. As our nation matures, however, it’s apparent that we are beginning to move from our natural human tendency to the ethically correct position of acceptance. This is evident from the repeal of the armed force’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation and especially pertinent in the Boy Scouts’ recent consideration of allowing gay men to be a part of their organization.
The true evil of this anthropological phenomenon is illustrated when people are denied basic rights simply because they aren’t in the “right” group — i.e. the majority. The civil rights movement in the 1960s has taught us that blacks and other minority groups are no different than white people in terms of intelligence, ability or anything besides skin color. America has since recognized African Americans as equal citizens. Looking back, it was ridiculous to discriminate.
Since its inception, the Boy Scouts, a national organization that receives federal funding, has banned gays from being members explaining, “The Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.” This week, however, the National Executive Board is holding a three-day meeting to decide if this ban is still applicable, or if it should be left up to local chapters to decide whether or not to ban gay members.
Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts have already harmed countless gay adolescents with their exclusion. Will Oliver, for instance, has been involved in the Boy Scouts since he was six years old and has earned the organization’s highest award of Eagle Scout. Oliver says, however, that he would like to “have the opportunity to be myself.” Many people, gay and straight alike, struggle with finding their sexuality in adolescence. An awkward phase is common in all sexual orientations, but is especially painful for those who feel they cannot be accepted for their true selves. The added pressure of being rejected by friends and national organizations openly harms the gay youth and promotes an “us vs. them” mentality in other teens.
Those who wish to keep the ban claim they don’t want their little boys being sexually harassed by openly gay male scout leaders. This is an absurd and illogical fear. Perversion should not be linked to homosexuality. There’s a small percentage of the population — men and women included — who are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children. This group of “perverted” people is completely separate from the many men and women who identify as LGBTQ. The fear of a gay scout leader “coming on” to your little boy is like fearing a heterosexual male teacher will “come on” to your six-year-old daughter. It’s utterly ridiculous. The federal government should not be funding a program that condones such false ideas.
Gay people are exactly the same as straight people. Just because they have a different sexual orientation than the majority doesn’t mean they’re different in any other aspect of life. People shouldn’t be persecuted for something they cannot change. Like the treatment of blacks before the Civil Rights Movement, LGBTQ Americans have been put in a box and cast aside in the easy-to-fall-into “us vs. them” mentality.
They’ve been excluded and persecuted. We need to continue breaking the natural, anthropological tendency of humans and accept everyone in our society. Lifting the Boy Scout ban would be the first step towards this goal.
Maura Levine is an LSA sophomore.