Today I intended to write about the vile and disgusting Planned Parenthood and all the companies that support them (and, thus, with whom I will no longer do business, such as Wells Fargo and Liberty Mutual (BYU Alumni Association, heads up!), et. al.), but that it being put off to attend to the Mormon Newsroom revelation published this week.
But first, some background…
Male Youth Programs and Blindness to Sexism
While living in Boca Raton in the 90s, Sam was the high councilor assigned to the Young Women program. (Let’s set aside, again, the absurdity of that setup for just a minute.) One Saturday he attended a stake youth training meeting. The program consisted of another high council member—decked out head to toe in his official BSA leader garb—droning on and on about the amazingness that is the Boy Scout program.
At the end of the meeting, he asked if there were any questions from the attendees. My husband raised his hand and asked, “What about the Young Women?”
The flustered, red-faced man stammered and muttered something about forgetting something or other. There, in a youth training meeting, the female half of the youth program was entirely forgotten.
Is this a thing of the past? Is it unusual? Unfortunately, I think not. A few examples from the past few months will suffice.
“Youth” Preparing to Receive the Melchizadek Priesthood
Earlier this month, LDS Media Talk posted a link to a New Era article. The teaser was this:
Ideas for #LDS youth (and their parents) on how to prepare to receive the Mehchizadek Priesthood.
When I noted he probably meant it to be gender exclusive, Larry Richman made an edit. He’s a very decent guy. He wasn’t being malicious. But such blindness to the complete exclusion of women leaves me engaging in literal face-palming.
“Oh, yes, the females. Well, of course they aren’t part of this, but, you know, it’s important stuff!”
“Half” of “Youth” Without Access to Scouting
Monday the Mormon Newsroom posted an article to announce that the church is re-evaluating its association with and sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America due to the recent BSA policy change with regard to homosexual leadership. Fair enough, but this is how it was (and as of this writing, still is) framed:
As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.
Um…seriously? After 100 years of BSA sponsorship for males juxtaposed next to female youth programs that have ranged from nonexistent to maudlin to mediocre—never with a parity of emphasis, resources, consistency, or infrastructure—suddenly now we are worried about the “fully one-half of its youth” (apparently meaning “fully one half of the male youth”) who don’t have access to scouting?
Did someone at headquarters miss the memo that “fully one-half of its youth” have always been without access to scouting? Why the big brouhaha today?
After growing up insanely jealous of my brothers because of the cool factor in scouting, I became an anti-scouting-fanatic. In spite of that, both my boys are now scouts and they mostly enjoy it. My oldest—on a rafting super activity with his troop as I write—currently has a bandelo bursting with merit badges, but he’s still ABE (All But Eagle) because I won’t approve a lame Eagle project like the one I, once again, was petitioned to contribute to last week. From a kid in another ward. Whom I have neither heard of nor set eyes upon.
There are great thing about the BSA, to be sure, but I think it’s harmful to continue to sponsor such extravagant spending on a program for boys without something similar for girls. And, no, Activity Day and Personal Progress don’t cut the mustard.
BSA and Homosexual Leaders
The newsroom post explicitly states that the BSA vote to allow gay leaders “is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.” This isn’t surprising or new, but the statement then segues into a discussion of the problems of a worldwide church sponsoring a youth boys’ program that is not itself worldwide.
I’m unsure why there is this conflation in the article, but let’s assume that the first statement and the timing are indicators that the re-evaluation is due to the BSA policy change, not some long-held concern over the excluded youth boys. If so, is there any justification for disassociation with a group for young men that allows homosexual male leaders? I think there are many and—although I recognize the position won’t be deemed politically correct or popular—I think they are worthy of discussion and consideration, even if they interfere with a political progressive agenda.
Today a friend of mine who is the father of all boys said he would be “comfortable” sending his boys on a campout with female leaders. This prompted me to consider the ramifications.
Nearly every venue in the country segregates bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, hospital rooms, etc., by gender. It is not done because we collectively assume everyone is a sexual predator, bent on assaulting the nearest animate object. It is done because the vast majority of humans are sexually attracted to those of the opposite gender and so the segregation provides a measure of privacy, safety, and distance when in vulnerable circumstances.
In spite of this obvious cultural practice, in the case of homosexuality we are required to pretend such conventions don’t exist and/or that they exist for no reason at all. As with transgenderism, a cogent conversation simply isn’t allowed in the face of crushing ideology.
While we aren’t keen on sleepovers at all, I have never allowed my kids to go to coed slumber parties. Nor have we followed the trend in some places we’ve lived of kids reserving hotel rooms for after-prom parties/make outs/hookups. We are that old fashioned. No, we don’t think all tweens and teens are intent on engaging in sex with anyone and everyone they meet. We just think it’s ragingly stupid to send pubescent and/or post-pubescent kids, overnight, away from parents, into unsupervised situations with other pubescent and/or post-pubescent kids.
For the same (shocking!) reasons, I do not want my kids to go on sleepovers or campouts with homosexual friends of the same gender. Yes, I realize this statement will nonsensically bring out cries of hatred and homophobia. But the cries are idiotic. The standard is the same. We don’t generally put ourselves in intimate situations (like dressing, showering, and sleeping) with those with whom there may be sexual issues or attractions.
I don’t go on campouts alone with groups of heterosexual men or homosexual women and my husband doesn’t have slumber parties with heterosexual women or homosexual men. Yes, we trust each other implicitly and, no, we don’t think the other is on the prowl. We just think it’s ragingly stupid to go into a vulnerable situation when we are committed to each other.
Similarly, I would not be “comfortable” sending my girls on a camping trip with adult heterosexual men, my boys with adult heterosexual women, my girls with adult homosexual women, or my boys with adult homosexual men. It’s common sense and foolish to ignore simple safeguards. No, I don’t think all adults are intent on molesting children. I just think it’s ragingly stupid to send kids overnight, away from parents, into situations with adult authorities who are attracted to the gender of my children.
As with many girls, I was full grown and through puberty by the end of sixth grade. I didn’t look like a child at all. Why would my parents send me overnight with adult male leaders? I can’t fathom that situation. I can fathom it less in the name of “tolerance” or “acceptance” or “trust.”
To be clear, I’m not implying some kind of rampant predilection to pedophilia on the part of anyone. Most girls go through puberty in junior high and most boys in high school. While these kids are legally underage—as well as emotionally immature—they are physically adults. They look and function like adults. From a sexual standpoint, being attracted to them isn’t being attracted to a child, it’s being attracted to another, albeit younger, adult.
Are we really willing to put our children at risk—pretending this isn’t so—for the sake of political or social ideology? I’m responsible to care for and protect my children, not prove I have advanced (and popular!) modern sensibilities.
Below I will include a handful of reasons I think my friends comfort with sending his boys on campouts with female leaders is misguided. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, just a few thing to consider. Add your own in the comments, in between those screeching ad hominem!
#1 If you aren’t likely to be in a position where you will be “expected” to send your handsome 15-year-old son on a weeklong camping trip with a 27-year-old heterosexual female hottie, it’s easy to claim to be “comfortable” in the name of progressivism and modern thinking. Embracing things that aren’t in the realm of possibility and without specifics isn’t a difficult stand to take.
It’s like men saying they would totally volunteer to give birth to half the kids…if only it was a possibility.
When the situation actually presents itself, let’t talk about the ramifications and outcomes.
#2 The rate of female-authority/male-child molestation is markedly less than the reverse. So while male children being supervised (overnight, for long periods, etc.) by women is statistically less problematic, such patterns do not address the rationality of regularly sending (often fully physically grown) children away, overnight, with adults who are attracted to the children’s genders.
For the record, I do have a close male friend who was “seduced” (let’s just call it what it was: molested) by an adult female authority figure when he was in early high school. It’s not as common as the reverse (right now), but it’s certainly not unheard of. And the impact is devastating. Let’s not pretend the risk isn’t real.
#3 I have a lot of gay friends (yada, yada, yada) and have since I was in junior high when no one (meaning middle America) was conversant in what “gay” meant. (This is the result of being old.) Even back in the olden days, dance and musical theater were disproportionally homosexual…and that was my world.
With regard to that, please brace yourself for a truth that many of you won’t like, won’t believe (or will feign disbelief), or won’t be willing to consider because it’s not politically correct, popular, cool, or hip. It’s OK. I’m used to progressive close-mindedness. Heh. But it’s still true.
My anecdotal experience may be completely off the national average—and I’m sure many will say so whether they have credible evidence to the contrary or not—but of my gay male friends whom I know well enough to have been personally told intimate life details, nearly 80% of them (yes, I tabulated this once a few years ago when I recognized the pattern) were molested in junior high or early high school by (usually young) adult men (mostly college age to late-20s). These men were neighbors, teachers, scout leaders, friends’ older brothers, fellow cast/crew/production members, etc.
Thereafter these male friends of mine associated sexual arousal with other males. Many of them were explicitly told by the molester that it was “obvious” they were gay because they were “turned on” during the molestation. (As if a pubescent male with an erection is a real indicator of orientation—meaning all teenage males are actually attracted to their linens, their pants, and their appendages.) Like most in my generation, few of them had any concept of “sexual orientation” until those life-altering experiences occurred.
At least three of those boys later went on missions and tried to “be straight” but could not shake the “obvious” that they were sexually aroused by men and, therefore, “obviously” gay.
The teen years are an emotionally/hormonally chaotic time when children are very impressionable. Why would I allow a 23-year-old heterosexual man to take my 16-year-old daughter on a weeklong campout or a 23-year-old homosexual man to take my 16-year-old son on a weeklong campout?
Either would be ragingly stupid.
I’ve hoped for decades that the church would either end its association with the Boy Scouts of America or provide an equivalent program for the Young Women. The lack of parity is just one more indication that leaving out females isn’t of concern and—as is confirmed by this week’s newsroom quotes—isn’t even noticed. Given not only the century-long ties to and investment in BSA, but also the personal attachment many of our general leaders hold to the Boy Scout organization, I was left with little hope that the programs for our youth would be comparable in my lifetime.
The recent policy changes in scouting, however, are not just “inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church,” they are inconsistent with rational, common sense parenting, given the types of activities involved in the scouting program. I hope our church leaders will employ common sense and disassociate from a program that is becoming increasingly problematic on numerous fronts.
Let’s create our own youth programs that provide opportunities for growth and spiritual education with parity and appropriate, fair-minded recognition for both young men and young women.