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Boy Scouts, Sexism Blindness, Homosexual Leaders, and the Mormon Re-evaluation

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.

BSA Homosexual Leaders Sexism

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.

LDS Media Talk

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.

BSA Youth Access

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?

Lame Eagle ProjectAfter 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

Homosexual Boy Scout LeadersThe 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.

Convention

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.

Slumber Party Fun

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.

My Rules

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.

Random Reasons

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.

Fini

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.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • marie July 30, 2015, 8:31 am

    I don’t disagree with you but I have one question. I keep seeing in these arguments the comment “I wouldn’t send my YW camping with men so why would I send my YM camping with a gay leader”. Do you not send your YW to girls camp? Because the church requires men to go camping with the YW. And then make girls swim in knee length shorts and t-shirts because there are men there. If we are appalled at the idea of gay men camping with our scouts because it is not a good idea to have leaders that could be attracted to the youth why do we allow it, no require it, with the YW? If it is a bad idea for our boys it is for our girls also. It is just another double standard in the church that drives me crazy. Women must be supervised by men but not the opposite.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 9:49 am

    marie, in my experience in multiple stakes and states (and as a ward and stake camp director) men who go to YW camp are banished to the hinterlands. As in they are literally not supposed to be seen during regular activities (and certainly not at the showers, cabins/tents, bathrooms) and they are camped afar off as a camp guard—literally a small hike away. In most stakes I’ve been in, they were even given a box of stuff to do while being cocooned off yonder with no one to talk to. In my experience the camp dress code had nothing to do with men being there (because in my experience they never were, except for the last night at testimony meeting), but with the typical modesty-meaning-cover-your-parts obsession.

    So, if a homosexual scout camp leader were similarly—and for the love of pete notice that it is similarly—banished to the nether regions of the camp and only showed up supervised for the dutch oven cooking class, I’d be fine with it. But, seriously, can you even imagine the fallout of someone in a position of authority making that suggestion? How viral would that conversation be?

    Hey, Josh, since you are gay, we are going to require you to sleep in a tent 150 yards from camp. We’ll give you a box of scriptures to read and crossword puzzles to do. In no way can you be within binocular distance of a bathroom, shower, swimming, or dressing/sleeping area. I will escort you to camp when we need you to teach the kids to make cobbler. Thanks for your service!

    If your experience with men at camp is different, yes, I’d have the same problem with it. And, yes, the “women must be supervised” thing drives me nuts. I will say, however, that the old policy/practice of requiring a man to be at every activity in the building seems to have gone the way of the horse and buggy. So, that’s progress, right?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Boy Scouts, Sexism Blindness, Homosexual Leaders, and the Mormon Re-evaluationMy Profile

  • Sheldon the Gay July 30, 2015, 9:53 am

    Where do you get off saying all gays are pedophile. Dont you know the difference? That is a different -movement- than gays.

  • CamBendy July 30, 2015, 10:05 am

    If someone is going to argue with this, they better have a good argument because it seems like common sense to me, too.

    The after-prom hotel thing IS a thing here and what a joke. Parents who think this is just for cookies and milk are INSANE.

  • marie July 30, 2015, 10:05 am

    My experience has been different. The men have been very much present. In fact my husband just provided priesthood leadership at girls camp. He was with the group a good part of the time except when cooking (which did take alot of his day) and when sleeping etc. Same as when he has gone to scout camp. His experience was very similar for both, involved with the kids during the day, sleeping in his own tent at night. We are in our third stake and second state and the experience has been similar. The men weren’t already there while we were doing things but they weren’t hidden off all day either we saw them plenty. Glad yours has been different.

    In our current ward they don’t require men at all women’s activities but our last ward (a year ago and my understanding is it hasn’t changed) required men. To the point that we would have 16 year old boys come because they had the priesthood and counted and we couldn’t get any grown men to come and it was that or cancel. Glad my new ward and stake ( it was stake policy in our last area) are not that way.

    Thank you for clarifying your thoughts. It makes many of the comments I have seen make more sense if their experience has been like yours not mine.

  • chad July 30, 2015, 10:59 am

    My experience is the same as Marie’s. As a bishop’s counselor, I twice attended girl’s camp as was included in almost all activities and not sequestered in any way. An even better example of unacknowledged INSANITY (by your definition) is putting teen girls into trek “families” with “brothers” and “fathers.” Address these issues at an institutional level and I’ll believe this is something other than “let’s not trust the gay guy.”

  • IdRatherNotSay July 30, 2015, 11:45 am

    Yeahhhhhh…

    I share all of these thoughts and concerns. In fact, we’ve made it a household rule that we are not to have sleepovers here or anywhere else. I don’t care who you are (man, woman, gay or straight) if you are an adult, you are not going to be alone with my kid, period. That is common sense.

    Chad, I have had the same thoughts about trek. I am sorry, but it is a STUPID idea. Just because a person’s spouse is present does not mean that one (or both) of them will not molest the kids. It is actually not uncommon for the spouse to be an accomplice (not necessarily participating but oftentimes by knowing about it and doing nothing). My husband and I turned down this “calling” and were treated very poorly for doing so. The thing is, my husband has a top secret clearance. One false accusation of foul play, and his career is over. Our no sleepovers rule is to protect our children AND ourselves.

    There really isn’t anything I can say to add to this post. I think it’s excellent.

  • IdRatherNotSay July 30, 2015, 11:47 am

    Sheldon the Gay,

    I am guessing you did not read the post, correct?

  • Amphigory July 30, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Funny you should cover this.
    I and another bishop and our wives were discussing this scouting issue just last night. For the record, I’m also an Eagle scout. I understand scouting. We have an active Scouting program in our ward and stake. Yes, we have hyperscouters—AKA Scouting Nazis. A pejorative, sure, but it works for us.

    These good people are the base of the church’s continued allegiance to the Boy scouts. I also credit scouting’s long life in the church to several of our Apostles–avid scouters, including (iirc ) Elder Packer, Elder Perry, Elder Ballard, and even Pres. Monson. but with their departure, we are now able to effect a more critical assessment of scouting.

    With the BSA’s policy change comes the expected assurance that church scouts are exempted, implying that will prevent legal attacks on the churches. That’s a lie, as lawyers are already warning of giant legal loopholes. In my opinion, that’s a driving reason for this move. Surely our church leaders know this.

    So what of regional and national scouting events? What about Philmont, the massive yearly scouting event? Can we send our young men to a multi-day camp with openly gay leaders exemplifying same-sex relations to a bunch of hormonally charged teenage boys? Yeah, no problems there.

    The time is long overdue to leave scouting and the BSA entirely. Withdraw all activity, funding and fundraising. Dissolve our organization and charters. This will effectively collapse the BSA, as our church and the Baptists are their effective financial foundation. They will struggle for a time, then fade away.

    We were discussing the paucity of YW activities/foci that even roughly equaled the scouts. What a shame and what a loss that has been to the entire church. It is time for a change.

    This should catalyze an essential change in our YM/YW, (finally) using equal resources and goals. Our YM/YW leaders are in need of better help with activities anyway. With the removal of scouting, we can then allow YM and YM to learn, together, essential useful life skills such as cooking, agriculture, basic electric, plumbing and auto care, financial preparation, as well as the hiking and camping the scouts alone enjoyed. Our sisters must be taught and equally prepared for life as our brethren. This can be effectively implemented church-wide with no additional infrastructure needed.
    What an opportunity to fulfill the sexual equality we profess!
    I am delighted the BSA did this.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:30 pm

    chad, I can’t tell whether you are simply presenting an additional problem from my perspective or presenting your own.

    I was thinking about trek the other day. I have never been on one, but my husband has gone when my kids have gone. In his experience, single adults either shared tents with other same-gender single adults or had their own tents, adult married couples had a private tent, multiple girls were in tents together as were multiple boys. In addition to “safety in numbers,” the tents were even situated in ways to protect the kids from “cross-over” from either adults or opposite gender children.

    Do you think that’s sufficient?
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:33 pm

    I think I like it better with men being banned 🙂 but if the men are only around during daytime group activities, I don’t see it as markedly different from any day-to-day activity (although there could be possible problems). It’s when we get to showering, sleeping, dressing, etc. that it becomes a different situation. In addition, anytime a child can be isolated is something to be wary of.
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:34 pm

    I think it’s obvious I don’t have a problem with general male/female interaction. It’s the camping emphasis and requirements at scouts that I think are most problematic. In my experience, scout campouts have a few leaders and bunch of boys. I also think it’s obvious from past history that this setup is problematic.

    At least as long as my boys have been in scouts, there has been a Youth Protection and Adult Leadership guide. A couple of the guidelines show cognizance of the problem I’m addressing.

    Tenting
    When camping, no one is permitted to sleep with a person of the opposite sex or in the tent of an adult other than his or her own spouse, parent, or guardian. Assigning youth members more than two years apart in age to sleep in the same tent should be avoided unless the youth are relatives.

    Shower Facilities
    Whenever possible, separate shower and latrine facilities should be provided for adults, youth, and females. If separate facilities are not available, separate shower times for adults, youth, and females should be scheduled and posted.

    If no one is allowed to sleep with someone of the opposite gender, then having someone sleep with someone of the same gender with same-gender attraction probably introduces the same problem they are trying to avoid. If females are supposed to have separate latrines and showers, then having someone of the same gender with same-gender attraction using the same latrines and showers probably introduces the same problem they are trying to avoid.

    There are all sorts of logistical problems with camping/showering/dressing, etc., when you introduce homosexuality to the mix. Again, that’s just common sense.
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  • Katie July 30, 2015, 12:37 pm

    I sure hope you were saying “Newsroom revelation” sarcastically!
    ~~
    “The newsroom post explicitly states that the BSA vote to allow gay leaders “is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church””

    What I don’t get about the newsroom’s statement is that this is completely false. The Church’s policy is that any member, gay or straight, is worthy to have any calling as long as they are living the law of chastity. So, it seems that the BSA’s policy is totally consistent with the church’s policy. And the BSA continues to allow the church to make any requirements it wants for BSA leaders, so I honestly don’t understand what the upset is about.

    ~~
    “Similarly, I would not be “comfortable” sending my girls on a camping trip with adult heterosexual men,”

    So you don’t feel comfortable sending your girls to Girl’s Camp then, because every year I went, there was always a requirement that a man be right there in the camp – one man for each ward campsite. They didn’t even have two of them together to provide an extra layer of protection, like the BSA does with their two-deep leadership.

    As I went to post this, I see that you have already addressed this. My experience was nothing like yours whatsoever. Every year of Girl’s camp, we had ONE lone man, typically with a camper, parked right next to our campsite. His tent/camper was not directly adjacent to all the girls and YW leader’s tents (which would typically be 5-10 feet apart), but he would be parked/set up about 50-100 feet away. Just far enough to be easily accessible, and just far enough for people to not notice if something unacceptable is going on. The men were NEVER a ‘hike’ away from our camp (unless you were referring to 100 feet as a hike), and they were NEVER together with the other men.

  • Katie July 30, 2015, 12:41 pm

    “There are all sorts of logistical problems with camping/showering/dressing, etc., when you introduce homosexuality to the mix. Again, that’s just common sense.”

    So what do you suggest? Should LDS gay boys just quit Scouts? That’s basically like quitting YM. Should LDS lesbian girls stay in YW (because they do far less camping, swimming, etc.), and just refuse to go to Camp? What if the youth is not ‘out’ yet? Should they just make up some BS excuse to avoid having to explain themselves?

    I try to avoid complaining about issues I don’t have solutions for. What is your solution for LDS lesbian/gay youth in camping situations?

  • Katie July 30, 2015, 12:47 pm

    “There are all sorts of logistical problems with camping/showering/dressing, etc., when you introduce homosexuality to the mix. Again, that’s just common sense.”

    In re-reading, I see you were talking about adults with youth. I’m still interested in your solution for youth. But the adult situation has already been taken care of — the adult leaders never shower at the same time as the youth, and they sleep in separate tents. They may end up using the bathroom at the same time, so I guess they’d have to designate one bathroom the ‘gay’ bathroom, or set up ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘gay’ latrines. I personally think that’s a ridiculously stupid suggestion, but it may help protect the sensibilities of those who think gay = bathroom pedophile.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:52 pm

    I sure hope you were saying “Newsroom revelation” sarcastically!

    Actually just a little pun with the true meaning being “disclosure” about what’s going on upstairs. 😉

    What I don’t get about the newsroom’s statement is that this is completely false. The Church’s policy is that any member, gay or straight, is worthy to have any calling as long as they are living the law of chastity.

    You are correct with regard to callings, but when that calling specifically involves activities that are gender-separated for reasons of privacy/safety etc., it changes the dynamic.

    As you added, the YW camps we have participated have been different from what many of you have experienced. I’d say putting one guy in a camper 100 feet away is an incredibly bad idea.
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:55 pm

    Thanks, IdRatherNotSay. Much appreciated. 🙂

    Sometimes you just have to deal with poor treatment from lame people for the sake of principle. You go!
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Amphigory, I could kiss you. (In a completely platonic, non-molesty kind of way…) So much agreement.
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  • Brother of Jared July 30, 2015, 1:03 pm

    This is the money line:

    ***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.***

    Looking back at my teen years, I most definitely have flannel-sheet-attraction, because I woke up EVERY morning pretty damn turned on.

    How did we get to this point where “attraction” is so defining?

  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2015, 1:14 pm

    Adding homosexuality to the mix is a logistical problem all across the board. With the insistence on “non-binary” gender and sexuality, there isn’t a reasonable way to segregate except to have everyone isolated, with each person in a separate tent and each shower/bathroom stall in it’s own room or enclosure. Of course, this isolation introduces it’s own set of problems.

    A “gay bathroom” doesn’t help, because they you have all gay men with all gay men—which is as problematic as mixing heterosexual men with heterosexual women. But segregating gay males away from other males is no more “ridiculously stupid” than separating hetero men from women or vice versa.

    If your argument is that any segregation is stupid and we should all be showering together—and bring those urinals into the integrated bathroom—then it’s a different discussion. I’m assuming that most USA Mormons accept the gender segregations in showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., as a reasonable convention.
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  • Kristy July 30, 2015, 1:51 pm

    I have a problem with young women being alone in rooms with grown men (Bishops, Stake President, etc) discussing sexual activity. This bothered me as a youth and it still does. I know you can bring another person into the room during the interview but I didn’t know it when I was youth because it wasn’t well advertised.

  • Katie July 30, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Kristy,
    I have many friends who have wanted to bring someone else into the room and were not allowed. Does the Handbook say it’s OK?
    ~
    Alison wrote: “I’m assuming that most USA Mormons accept the gender segregations in showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., as a reasonable convention.”

    I think you’re right that “convention” is the correct word to describe it. It’s all based on tradition, not logic. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense. And I don’t think it’s a reasonable convention at all. I hate having communal bathrooms/locker rooms/etc. I would prefer if we changed to having individual stalls/rooms for each person for each of these situations. I say that the convention of separating men and women is not based on logic, because it certainly doesn’t make me more comfortable/safe to know that only women are around me in those situations. I would be incredibly uncomfortable having men in the bathroom or locker room with me, just as I am incredibly uncomfortable having women (ANYONE) in the room. The convention/tradition of having women with women doesn’t work for me. I never change in the public area of a locker room, unless I am in the very back corner, I’m the only one there, and there is a reasonable chance no one will come in. P.E. in school was absolute torture for me. I had to figure out ways to contort myself to be able to change clothes without ever exposing any flesh. I never took an actual shower — I just walked near the shower with my towel on, like all the other girls did. We all hated it.

    I absolutely loathe public restrooms, with their semi-private stalls. I’m able to use them, but I’ve always hated them, and certainly don’t feel comfortable in them. I’m mainly OK with them because I’m typically with strangers in them. I can’t even imagine the horror if we had such a setup at work, where I would know the people I’m bathrooming with. Fortunately we have a private bathroom.

    I imagine that when our country switched away from having locker rooms/bathrooms segregated by color, it was incredibly uncomfortable for people, but now we aren’t uncomfortable because of someone of a certain color is in the room. Another situation that shows the tradition of the whole thing is that men are expected to be OK peeing in front of other men. Even if I had an anatomical setup that exposed the same amount men have to, I would never be OK doing that in front of other women. It’s all tradition.

    So yes, I’d definitely prefer to get rid of this tradition and have private stalls/rooms for everything.

  • Dave K July 30, 2015, 2:26 pm

    Alison, I want to be sympathetic to your concerns, but as others have pointed out, if you’re going to draw these lines for gay leaders in scouting, you have to be consistent in drawing them for similar circumstances. Other commenters already mentioned gay youth in scouts (which actually sleep in the same tents with other youth, unlike adults), men at girls camp (where I have personally been assigned to sleep in a tent about 25 yards from girl’s bathrooms and tents), and youth on trek (where co-eds can end up sleeping near each on the trail).

    I’ll add one more: missions. A typical mission has around 200 youth. Statistically, about 4-10 of these will be LGBT. If your child has a typical 6-8 companions over their mission, and if they share living spaces with 2 or more companionships (pretty common in many missions), then the odds are very good that at some point they will be sharing an apartment with someone who is sexually attracted to them.

    I’m a father of 3 boys in scouts. I worry about their safety. But as with anything they do, there is always a calcuated risk of harm (physical, emotional and spiritual). Knowing the BSA safety procedures, and knowing many good LGBT people, I came to the simply judgment that gay leaders in scouting do not pose any more risk for my kids than the myriad of other activities I permit, including hopefully one day missions.

  • Amphigory July 30, 2015, 4:55 pm

    “I have many friends who have wanted to bring someone else into the room and were not allowed. Does the Handbook say it’s OK?”
    I think it’s a great idea, and one some of my ward members have done. Whatever makes a ward member more comfortable, great. There’s nothing in the handbook that prohibits that. There is a requirement that if a Bishop is meeting with a sister, there should be a designated priesthood holder outside the door. For me, it was always easiest to keep the door open a bit. We need better Bishops’ training. Better yet, every temple-worthy member should have access to the Bishops’ handbook in order to avoid confusion on issues like this. Keep the Bishop on his toes.

    As to the gay part of this discussion. In the church, we emphasize morality, which means sexual relations outside of marriage is a bad thing. This applies equally to gays and straight people. This means that the same responsibility exists whether or not there is sexual attraction. But Scout leaders are different, wearing different ‘hats,’ if you will. Scouting is not run by the church, we only charter troops and provide some leadership. So if there’s an openly gay leader in scouting, it puts the issue of homosexuality on the table, whether or not it is discussed. Trust me, the boys will discuss it regardless. Because it is in the open, it becomes a tacit endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle. A leader does not have to openly discuss sexual issues in order for the youth to be profoundly influenced. That is what many people fear. If it were adult activities, we’d be having a different discussion. Interestingly, I just returned from lunch with a gay couple, my close friends for 25 years. They agree that openly gay leaders can have too much influence too early in a boy’s life. I’m afraid activists are controlling much of the scout discussion.

  • Amphigory July 30, 2015, 5:51 pm

    Let’s remind ourselves: Scout leaders are NOT church leaders. Although wards generally call scoutmasters who are ostensibly trustworthy, the BSA has no such worthiness requirements, and their leaders are bound only by their legal guidelines, and, uhhhh , the Scout Law? In part, ” …to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” (Will they have to change that, by the way? Will it become …”sexually ambiguous,” or “morally flexible?”)
    The Boy Scouts of America is not a religious organization, even though there have been many wonderful Christians in positions of leadership. But given that they have now made sexual orientation a focal point, I cannot wait for the church to act.

    In church, I can reasonably trust the teachers of my children to teach correct principles. I have no such assurance from the BSA, and frankly, the sexual issue is now front and center. Like it or not, scouting, at least for the time being, is all about sexual issues.

  • Tiago July 30, 2015, 9:48 pm

    I understand what you are saying, Alison, and how it makes sense from a certain perspective. I want to try to explain why it feels foreign from my perspective.
    Context: I’m 34 year old, active LDS, single and living the law of chastity and also persistently, exclusively romantically attracted only to other males (but not all other males).
    Despite having a minority sexual orientation, my life has been Mormon typical in many ways–Eagle scout, mission, BYU, YSA wards, transition to family ward, callings in Elder’s quorum, executive secretary, temple worker, Young Men’s president, and now assistant scoutmaster.
    I was never abused or experimented sexually as a kid and my family situation is healthy.
    I’ve never felt out of place around other guys. My best friends area always other guys.
    I’ve rarely felt segregated because of my sexual orientation. It feels like any solution that would really satisfy you would have had me segregated and isolated most of my life or somehow grouped with the women which would not have fit me. I want to push back against that, for my sake and for the sake of other gay people.
    I don’t think interactions between different genders are exactly the same as interactions between people with different sexual orientations.
    While society has established gender segregated areas where the body might be exposed (restrooms, lockers, sleeping quarters), there has not been the same separation based on sexual orientation.
    So, a straight guy wouldn’t be too surprised if he sees a gay guy at the urinal next to him or in the locker room (let’s say the gay guy is wearing a rainbow pride shirt or something for easy identification) in the same way he could if there were a woman there. Gay people don’t get assigned private, bathrooms and lockers and aren’t expected to use the women’s rooms. So, where there is a history of separating genders, I don’t see a history of separating people by sexual orientation.
    Some things that are different about sexual orientation vs gender segregation
    – Because heterosexuality is predominant, the statistical chance of a random female and random male being mutually attracted to each other is much higher than the same for two people of the same gender
    – Because of that, gay guys interact differently with other guys compared to how a straight guy interacts with a woman. For example, most straight guys don’t think twice about checking out a hot lady and maybe even making a catcall. Gay guys know that they could get punched in the face if they do this, so they are much less likely to obviously check out or hit on a random guy.
    – Gay people grow up surrounded by their own gender, so there is less novelty/curiosity about body parts. Teenage boys who like girls are wiling to do crazy things to see a girl. Teenage boys who like boys see boys (including themself) all the time.
    I think it’s worth noting that even the church doesn’t segregate people based on sexual orientation. While BYU counseling, LDS family services counseling, bishops,, and stake presidents are aware of my attraction, I have:
    – Shared tents with other adult males (YSA and scout activities)
    – Shared BYU approved housing with dozens of male roommates
    – Shared a house with two other gay mormons (separate bedrooms)
    – Rented a room in my house to a straight male
    – Served a mission where I was paired with other males and lived together in isolated villages. At least one of my companions was also gay.
    – Showered in the MTC “tree of life” showers
    – Attended the temple, including initiatory and locker rooms with other males
    – Served as a home teaching companion
    – Served as Young Men’s president
    – Served as assistant scoutmaster
    In all those interactions, nothing freaky has happened. Maybe if I was better looking or more suave or who knows then things would be different. It just hasn’t been an issue in my life and it’s not even something I worry about. I don’t feel the slightest temptation to check out other guys in public restrooms or lockers or to hit on guys (especially minors) at church and activities.
    I’ve kept my SSA very private. Family, close friends, and church leaders know, but I don’t think any of the scouts I work with or their parents know. I would rather they knew. I would rather that I didn’t have to feel guarded and worried that people would abandon me “if they only knew,”, but it is not how we operate in the church right now.

  • TravelingMan July 31, 2015, 12:53 am

    I sincerely believe that the logistical issues identified in dealing with male, female, gay, and transgender youth and leadership will require the eventual abolishing of gender segregation. As a submariner in the Navy, we have integrated homosexuals (which were actually always there) and females into our cramped spaces. We cannot afford the space and time to deal with all of the gender and orientation issues. Bathrooms have become like the family bathroom in the house- one at a time and it doesn’t matter who. I see this is how most facilities in society will go.

  • Marie K August 3, 2015, 4:27 am

    In Sweden the church quit the scout program over 10 years ago. Sweden (as the worlds most progressive and extreme country) allowed gay leaders many, many years ago. I think the problem is not (mainly) that same-sex attraction can occur. Active members are supposed to be chaste no matter their orientation. It is the OTHER leaders that we should worry about more. Our church can have control over which leaders to send to camp, that they are worthy no matter orientation. The church can NOT control what leaders other scouting groups or churches send there. Apparently there was a huge Jamboree in Sweden where OTHER leaders (gay or not I don’t know, and am not really interested in) that put on a sexual game and promoted the gay life style. In camp, as an activity… After that that the church in Sweden quit the Scouts.

    We do have scouting, camp outs, and haiks here. For YM and YW. In spring it is a combined one but YW + leaders sleep in their tents a good distance from the YM. Leaders and youth share tents and have always done so. Supervising is necessary (mostly to get them to bed in a sort of decent time). In summer we have separate camps with different themes, biking, canoeing, hand cart trek to the temple and so on. We are used to sharing community showers here but there are never showers or bathrooms on these camps. We dig latrines and wash in the lakes.

    A priesthood holder is always there on the YW camps. So that we have access to priesthood blessings. Usually a bit away in his own tent, and usually someone older, married to one of the YW leaders.

  • Marie K August 3, 2015, 4:39 am

    Tiago. Thank you for your input! It says what I am thinking, we should all behave and we are responsible for our own actions. And I appreciate you telling us about consequences that I do not know much about but that was very logical and made a lot of sense.

    I hope you are not easily offended but I laughed out loud about this part (I could see it in my head).

    “– Because of that, gay guys interact differently with other guys compared to how a straight guy interacts with a woman. For example, most straight guys don’t think twice about checking out a hot lady and maybe even making a catcall. Gay guys know that they could get punched in the face if they do this, so they are much less likely to obviously check out or hit on a random guy.”

  • Katie August 6, 2015, 10:38 am

    I guess there’s no two-deep leadership rule for girls in Robert Kirby’s ward, at least while driving. I originally just linked to his July 10 SL Trib article, but WordPress isn’t letting me share the URL. In the article, he talks about how he drove 4 girls up to Girl’s camp by himself.

    Though I imagine the 2-deep rule doesn’t apply for Scouts while driving either. Or does it? If it does, it seems like it would be near-impossible to get a medium-to-large group of boys anywhere without at least 4-8 leaders.

    Amphigory said: “morally straight.” (Will they have to change that, by the way? Will it become …”sexually ambiguous,” or “morally flexible?”)”

    Perhaps this may blow the minds of many, but it is completely possible to be gay and morally straight. Morally straight is not referring to one’s orientation. Many religions do not believe that committed homosexual relationships are sinful. Those people get rights too! The BSA has never defined morally straight as having anything to do with orientation: “Your relationships with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

  • N. August 10, 2015, 5:38 pm

    From Katie:
    “Though I imagine the 2-deep rule doesn’t apply for Scouts while driving either. Or does it? If it does, it seems like it would be near-impossible to get a medium-to-large group of boys anywhere without at least 4-8 leaders.”

    It *does* apply, and it *is* tremendously difficult to do. Such things are done, and mountains are moved to comply with the rules that exist for the safety of the boys and the legal protection for both the boys and the leaders.

    Now 90 commenters will come back with “well, it never happened in *my* ward’s troop” etc. To them I say, shame on your troop for not doing the prudent and required thing. You make it harder for the rest of us.

  • Rachel Whipple August 11, 2015, 8:51 am

    Alison, I\\\’m curious about your thoughts on the possibility of abuse of boys by heterosexual men. From what I\\\’ve read, most sexual abuse stems from power dynamics more than sexual attraction, and the abusers of both boys and girls are most likely to be heterosexual men. Scouting is aware of the risk: that\\\’s why they stress the 2-deep leadership.

  • Jim August 17, 2015, 7:44 am

    When my son was younger I went on camp with him for what is called joey’s which is junior scouts as he had food allergies and I didn’t want him to miss out on the experience. I found the sleeping arrangements for the kids if the wrong person was on camp they would have been quiet vulnerable and exposed. Being a mindful parent I made sure to be always be with my son to protect him as well as myself. In this day and age you have to be mindful with any junior Wether there straight or gay what position you put your self in as adult. I work with a lot of young volunteers both male and female and I am always mindful of my exposure.
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  • Amphigory September 13, 2015, 8:48 pm

    As a belated addition to this, I find it ironic that my Bishop took me aside during church today. He asked if I would serve as chair of our scout executive committee/board, whatever. I’m trying to decide how to use this to advantage.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 13, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Ugh. That’s all I have to say about that!
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  • Taylor December 16, 2015, 10:05 pm

    Observation to Allison: I think your premise, which seems to be, spending and other resources have to be equal in order to be fair (or proper or moral or whatever), is flawed. Following your premise, a ward or stake should begin the year by dividing the ward youth budget (and other resources) 50/50 between YM and YW, and then let the organizations set their programs and activities. That to me is somewhat equivalent to requiring football stadiums and concert halls etc., to spend equal amounts of money on women’s restrooms as on men’s — (which architects/contractors have actually tended to do, unless persuaded by female objections!). A far better approach is to first determine the end results desired for the YM and YW as far as individual growth, development and interests, and THEN divide the resources accordingly. That won’t be 50/50. The Girl Scouts of America never got far off the ground for the reason that girls weren’t as interested as boys in that sort of thing. I was so sad when Title IX, requiring equal spending on male and female sports, resulted in so many college male programs being eliminated, more than 2000, everything from wrestling, to swimming, even to football, even though men were far more interested in intercollegiate sports than women and even though career opportunities for men’s athletics were and are much greater than for women. I know there is interest in women’s boxing, but do you think women should be equal to men there? In my opinion, you are basically asking for Title IX in the Church. That’s not my idea of equality.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2015, 12:33 am

    Observation to Taylor: It’s far easier to have a discussion with someone if they read what was actually written and then respond, rather than creating elaborate straw men and then ceremoniously dismembering them.

    The Girl Scouts of America never got far off the ground for the reason that girls weren’t as interested as boys in that sort of thing.

    1. GSA is still a thing. Not sure how “off the ground” it has to be to qualify as a real group to you.
    2. GSA would probably have been more “off the ground” if the LDS church had sponsored a gazillion troops as they did with BSA.
    3. It’s true that, while many do like “that sort of thing,” girls generally aren’t as interested as boys in camping in the woods, hiking, and lashing latrines. But this underlines the assumption that it is, in fact, the “boy things” that are important enough to warrant funding, infrastructure, and support. The “girl things” are just fluffy and silly and, heck, you probably just need a glue gun and some pipe cleaners to do it. Oh, and a bottle of nail polish.

    The “premise” of this post that relates to gender equality (which is minimal) in any way were detailed descriptions of of incidents noting how females are often overlooked and underserved. More specifically how often church leaders don’t even seem to recognize the disparity. It happens all the time and, well, you reinforced it yourself.

    If you’d like to comment on the actual post, I welcome it. But, yea, I love that your analogy equates boys with concert halls and girls with bathrooms. Good for you.
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  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2015, 12:45 am

    P.S. I highly recommend Neylan McBaine’s book, Women at Church, if you want to understand some of the issues at hand.
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  • Taylor December 17, 2015, 12:56 am

    Alison, I didn’t comment on the thrust of the post because I agree with most of it. I was only commenting on your equating money and resources with equality and fairness. We have a daughter who loved horses, we spent more on her than any of the others because her passion was more expensive. The other daughter was into ice skating. MUCH cheaper. Same goal. The three sons with their sports and music were all cheaper than the one daughter. It’s true that the ice skater noticed horses were more expensive and time consuming than ice skating, but she has definitely outgrown that. But we did what we could to treat each child the same in terms of what was important to us. That’s really all I’m saying. You’re being a little like our ice skater, focusing on dollars and time. And speaking of actually reading a post, concert halls were equated with bathrooms, not with boys and girls. concert halls/bathrooms were an additional example to title IX. No rational reason to say what you said on that except to be snippy. Snippy isn’t what I was trying to be to you. BSA is more expensive, but the women of the Church in 1907 (when it was adopted) weren’t shrinking violets that cowered to the men, and today’s women aren’t suddenly waking up to oppression. There’s greater awareness and sensitivity to sexism today, but it has come sometimes at a price of thin skinnedness and negative political correctness. I know my mother could verbally shred any man (or woman) to pieces, and with a smile on her face. But she loved who she was and her role in the family and society. No Church male leader oppressed her, ever, including “the Brethren.” She and the women before her mostly (there are ALWAYS a range of viewpoints) saw things differently than today’s generation.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 17, 2015, 1:33 am

    Alison, I didn’t comment on the thrust of the post because I agree with most of it. I was only commenting on your equating money and resources with equality and fairness.

    Taylor, I didn’t make some direct comparison (i.e. if each female has exactly the same number of pennies spent as each male, all in the world will be fair). Rather I noted (“never with a parity of emphasis, resources, consistency, or infrastructure”). Still, the church has always spent significantly more on the female youth than the male youth and always provided more support and infrastructure. In most situations in which I’ve had contact with the leaders, for example, Cubs gets more than the entire rest of the Primary combined. Even when the Cubs are a minute fraction of the total children. That’s not an accident, nor is it a matter of “well boys are equestrians and girls are knitters.” It’s a systemic problem that should be addressed.

    One of the problems with all male leadership is that they tend to make male-centric decisions. For example, my ward in Boca where all the boys had paid SCUBA certification and none of the girls did. (Even though about 40% of the girls wanted to.) When we (the YW leadership) asked if the girls (who, ahem, noticed all on their own) could do something cool as well, we were told we could. Yet (and this addresses the point about value), none of the (far less expensive) things the girls suggested were ever approved. When I moved back to Utah, the girls (many of whom had graduated and moved on), never got their “thing” because all the things they were interested in weren’t, I suppose, as important as SCUBA.

    Yes, I did misread your analogy. I apologize. I read that you were saying it was akin to demanding the same spending on concert halls as bathrooms.

    There’s greater awareness and sensitivity to sexism today, but it has come sometimes at a price of thin skinnedness and negative political correctness.

    Taylor, noting real problems isn’t political correctness. If you peruse a bit more of my blog, you’ll see I’m far from progressive. Try these:

    But there simply are many ways in which women are underserved in the church and we should look at them and correct course where we can. Again, I recommend the book.
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  • Taylor December 17, 2015, 2:07 am

    Thank you for the response. I’m not discounting your main points of argument, and know you didn’t mean to switch male/female in the first paragraph (or was that a Freudian slip??) haha! This post is my first view of your blog so I didn’t read much else before commenting. The dollars caught my attention because I was an econ major. I learned 40 years ago in college that the greatest social force in society today (hasn’t changed in 40 years) is the drive to egalitarianism, i.e. everyone wanting the same sized piece of the pie — even if that means a smaller pie. How much better if we all worked for a bigger pie, so even the “small” pieces would be big! It’s also called relative deprivation. I think the dialog on equality is healthy, and necessary, as long as all parties listen to each other and not just their own position. Otherwise it’s just Complaining/Murmuring.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 29, 2015, 11:57 am

    I do understand relative deprivation (although I like discussing relative privation more 😉 ). It’s a constant progressive tactic. Oddly so, because the leaders of income equality (etc.) don’t equalize their own. (Hillary Clinton is worth of $31 million. Even Sanders is worth more than double the average and many times the median.)

    I’m not a proponent of income equality by any stretch of the imagination. (I’m very conservative with libertarian leanings.)

    That said, the distribution of assets within a single charitable organization simply is meaningful with regard to the priorities of the organization. It’s easy to call that complaining, but much harder to prove it’s an invalid observation. The gender inequity in the church is obvious and, often, problematic.
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  • Taylor January 3, 2016, 7:44 pm

    In case you haven’t already heard enough from me on this subject, our son and his wife’s youngest child was born with a “tethered spine,” a condition that can impair leg strength and other functions from the waist downward. They consulted variously with a pediatrician, pediatric surgeon and neurosurgeon (thank goodness for great health insurance!!!), and received in succession recommendations to operate right away, operate at three months, and operate at a year when affected tissues would be a little more robust. Finally they got in to see a highly recommended pediatric neurosurgeon. I thought his recommendation was the wisest. He said “never operate on the condition, only on symptoms.” Some tethered spines don’t even get discovered until adulthood because the individuals have the condition but no symptoms. In their cases an operation at any time would have needlessly exposed them to significant surgical risk with minimal benefits at best. So every few months they take their toddler in for observation – so far no symptoms. 🙂

    Applying that great counsel to the YW/YM, the condition here is disparity of financial allocations. What are the symptoms? In my ward, I wish we could find a way to have the boys somehow catch up to the girls in maturity, spirituality and strength of testimony. We ourselves raised three boys and two girls in this ward. I don’t know how it is in other wards, but I would have given my right arm to have any of my boys marry virtually ANY of the young woman because the young women are so amazing. Not so much when it came to my daughters, as some of our YM are definitely “more stellar” than others. Not that my wife and I had any control. All our children found spouses away from home! I don’t know what your mix is, but if most of your children are girls, you should be vastly more concerned about the quality of boys that are being produced as future prospects for your daughters, whatever the budget may require! Please note I am in no way arguing that spending more money will produce better boys. But if there’s a magical solution out there I will want it even if it costs a lot!

    My daughters can hike, camp, canoe, ski, etc, with the best of them, boys or girls. I never heard them complain about the boys’ programs. I have never sensed any inferiority complex there. I say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Is it possible that the YW in some wards didn’t know how miserable they were until their YW leaders pointed it out to them? Just sayin.

    You mentioned relative privation. This also reminds me of the constant pressure from the UEA for more funding for teachers salaries. They throw out the statistic of how low we rank against the other 49 states in funding per pupil as though that proves their point. More important to me is the graph of how we rank in student performance against the other 49 states – and most importantly, how perfectly spending per pupil correlates with student performance in the 50 states, i.e. are the top ranked spenders also the top ranked performers (the answer is no). My position is that education rightly is our top budgetary priority, but it shouldn’t be the only priority.

    Utah teachers went on strike for higher salaries when I was in the third grade. The reason I remember is because I clearly remember our third grade teacher standing in front of us and telling us they went on strike for us. I was only 8 years old, but I specifically and clearly remember looking at her and knowing (feeling certainty) that it wasn’t true. They were striking for them. If they were striking for us they wouldn’t have gone on strike. Weird that I remember that specific thought but I do.

    Our kids were always acutely aware of the amount of money spent on each other, constantly comparing, which is why spending so much on horses was somewhat problematic. It didn’t help that my wife grew up with horses and loves them – which in all candor was a big part of the reason for the disparity. (Happy wife happy life :-).

    So I wrote all the foregoing maybe for the sake of argument. If the YW leaders come forward with a request for more money I never oppose them. I trust their judgement. I am also very conservative, with libertarian leanings, just left of being irrational, I think.

    Off topic btw, I meant to reply to your statement “noting real problems isn’t political correctness.” I suppose that is technically true, but I’m curious to see if you can name any example whatsoever of political correctness that does not have a group of people who will argue passionately that it addresses a “real problem.” Try publicly violating any political correct rule. I guarantee a number of people will be out to draw and quarter you. (also, what does the “permalink to this comment” mean at the bottom of every comment?)

  • Alison Moore Smith January 21, 2016, 11:12 am

    Taylor, your response is typical. Rather than addressing a very obvious, historical, systemic disparity that is easy to correct, you argue that there isn’t enough proof that it’s needed. Why shouldn’t the proof be required in the other direction? Why shouldn’t you and your ilk prove that parity in funding would not be good, since parity in funding seems, at very least, a respectable idea?

    For example, you mention maturity as a benchmark, as if the church’s aim should be to get boys and girls equally mature rather than optimally mature. Assuming your assertion is correct that girls are naturally, massively more mature than boys (even with significantly less support), why shouldn’t we support girls to reach their potential, rather than just some gendered average? In other words, let’s intentionally design a system that inhibits the opportunities for growth of “the better half.”

    Why shouldn’t we say, “Given the vast maturity of girls, just think how far they could go if we only supported them similar to the boys!”?

    Or, why wouldn’t we say, “We need to stop treating the boys as if they are deficient and incapable and as if they need special privileges in order to measure up, so they can rise the benchmark set by the girls”?

    For example, so many leaders and teachers still promote modesty to girls based on the abhorrent premises that:

    1. Boys can’t control themselves.
    2. Girls are responsible for controlling boys’ thoughts/actions.

    This attitude damages both girls and boys.

    Similarly, many people maintain the idea that women should not have the priesthood because the priesthood is special and desirable because women can’t have it. Forget all that worthiness and power of God stuff, it is excluding women that makes it awesome.

    Again, an attitude that harms both females and males.

    I don’t know what your mix is, but if most of your children are girls, you should be vastly more concerned about the quality of boys that are being produced as future prospects for your daughters, whatever the budget may require!

    This is such an odd statement, as if I should promote something because it benefits me personally, even if it’s not generally good. You sound like a political progressive. I don’t vote for legislation based on personal impact, I vote on principle. For example, I have been opposed to affirmative action and quotas even when they benefit women. I’ve been opposed to anti-discrimination laws with regard to private businesses even when they benefit Mormons/women, etc. I’ve been opposed to taxes to provide me with “free” stuff that I should pay for myself (which is almost everything I want). I won’t support a disparate system because I’m fearing for my daughter’s marriage choices and want the church to turn out some decent options.

    FTR, I have four daughters and two sons. Two of the daughters are married to amazing men. So far, so good. And I’m raising my boys to be decent, intelligent, hard-working, kind, honorable men. And I’m not spending more on my boys because they “need” it.

    Please note I am in no way arguing that spending more money will produce better boys.

    But, of course, you are. You are defending the disparity by claiming boys need it more. Which is an old saw that people use to defend the historical (inside the church and out) preference for men.

    I never heard them complain about the boys’ programs. I have never sensed any inferiority complex there. I say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Your anecdotal presentation has some problems.

    First, it’s anecdotal. Whether or not they’ve complained (to you, someone who supports the disparate system), whether or not you’ve “sensed” something, isn’t the issue. You may or may not be correct in assessing their thoughts and feelings. If you are, that doesn’t speak to the rest of the women in the church. And if you aren’t, well, you aren’t.

    Second, you might note that you are implying that if some people do have an inferiority complex or trouble because of the disparate treatment, it’s “broke” and should be fixed. Well, you can probably tell that I did from the time I was four and I can easily point you to hundreds of others who did and do. I suppose you’ll change your position now that you are aware that many, many people are impacted by this?

    Third, many people are unaware of the disparity and would speak out if they knew about it. I’ve had friends enter Primary leadership who were utterly shocked to find that Cubs very typically get more funding (even with just a handful of scouters) than the rest of the Primary combined (including, of course, Activity Day). They were beside themselves but had no budgetary control. That’s “just the way it is” because, after all, Cubs must have a thousand belt loops and pins and badges and beads and whatnot to be motivated (all at the BSA markup, of course) and the girls, well, the girls don’t need anything that an AD leader with some glue and yarn can’t whip up in a few hours.

    Fourth, as with the priesthood issue, Mormons—and particularly Mormon women—don’t feel free to complain about the status quo. They don’t feel free to oppose the male leadership because it’s considered inappropriate and is often maligned. So many women will never say anything that seems to contradict “how things are” unless it’s worded very carefully to be presented in an obedient positioning.

    Is it possible that the YW in some wards didn’t know how miserable they were until their YW leaders pointed it out to them? Just sayin.

    Is it possible that many young women don’t know how disparate the system is? Sure, it’s possible. It’s also possible that people under tyranny don’t know the joys of freedom. So what?

    You mentioned relative privation. This also reminds me of the constant pressure from the UEA for more funding for teachers salaries.

    Neither pupil funding nor student ranking is the metric we should look at. It’s the ease of receiving an education degree and the pay for comparable degrees we should look at. 🙂

    My position is that education rightly is our top budgetary priority, but it shouldn’t be the only priority.

    My position is that people who choose to have children should educate them themselves like, you know, responsible parents. 🙂

    Our kids were always acutely aware of the amount of money spent on each other, constantly comparing, which is why spending so much on horses was somewhat problematic. It didn’t help that my wife grew up with horses and loves them – which in all candor was a big part of the reason for the disparity.

    Honestly, this paragraph, again, confuses me. Your kids are aware of the disparity and they constantly compare, but you think they are unaware that Cubs get uniforms and a billion badges and award and ceremonies and the girls get a random program that may or may not be even remotely cool depending entirely on how much the current leader can/will do herself? There’s a possibility you are selective in understanding how much they notice. Just sayin.’

    If the YW leaders come forward with a request for more money I never oppose them. I trust their judgement.

    Taylor, I appreciate what you say, but you do realize it’s at odds with most of your comment, that defends the status quo repeatedly. So I would ask you a couple of things to consider:

    • Are you really open to requests from YW leaders?
    • What if the request approaches the funding for YM?
    • What if the request surpasses the funding for YM?
    • How free do the YW leaders feel to approach you? (Given how vehemently you defend the status quo, how flexible do they really think you are? How do you respond when they approach you? How much of this argument do you put to them?)

    And, to be clear, I ask this because I have had this discussion with really great bishops who also claim the same things you do. In reality, however, they don’t agree to specific funding, just to the general idea that they would agree to funding…if it met their unwritten, unspecified criteria.

    For example, we had a bishop who funded the YM to certify for SCUBA. All of them. (Price that out, will ya?) And, yes, the girls were the ones who complained to US. When we requested equal funding for a “super activity” of some kind, we were told to present ideas. Over the course of nearly a year, none were ever approved. Generally, the activities the girls proposed weren’t deemed as “important” or as “helpful” as SCUBA certification. (And, actually, none even approached the cost of the certification.)

    And thus we see another problem with all male general leadership. “Guy stuff” is important. “Girl stuff” is fluffy and silly.

    I am also very conservative, with libertarian leanings, just left of being irrational, I think.

    …I’m curious to see if you can name any example whatsoever of political correctness that does not have a group of people who will argue passionately that it addresses a “real problem.”

    Perhaps a better demand—given that you are the one claiming political correctness as a reason to dismiss the issue—is for you to show why the issue is merely political correctness and not important to discuss. (Or even why it’s political correctness at all.) Just because feminism is sometimes used to bludgeon people into submission (you know, kind of like priesthood authority…) doesn’t mean every issue that discusses gender is one of political correctness.

    what does the “permalink to this comment” mean at the bottom of every comment?

    Where are you seeing that? I just see “LINK.” Anyway, if you copy the link embedded there, you can use it to link directly to a comment. For example, if you go to this link, you will jump to a specific comment made on a different post.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Mormon Hacks: Preschool EditionMy Profile

  • Taylor February 2, 2016, 11:10 pm

    This is my last post. I like energetic and honest debate as one of the most reliable ways of obtaining good answers, but it breaks down when the parties resort to name calling and derogatory language. It is often though not always an indication that they have run out of good arguments, and further debate is destructive rather than helpful. I will only tell you that I’ve lived in my stake in North Orem for over 20 years and the young women’s budget has been consistently greater than the young men’s. That fact was challenged by at least one woman in the stake, and it took almost an hour with a clerk and high councilor to convince her. If her perception can be wrong so can others’. Yes, you can criticize how the money is spent – the stake YW spend thousands of dollars each year on crafts, and enormous amounts on chartered transportation. The same is true on at least my ward level. The YW spend their budget and more, on weekly activities, where the YM save it for the camps, and the YW easily outspend by 3x the YM on food, e.g. steaks vs hot dogs. Our bishopric do listen to and work with the YW leaders as much as the YM leaders in our ward. My ward/stake experience is anecdotal, but inasmuch as church finances are not publicly disclosed, the “studies” that are out there are glorified anecdotal studies. Incidentally your third anecdote example is an absolute classic example of relative deprivation. I also have to say you hide your inferiority complex very very well. Truly. Lastly I am glad at least you recognize Mormon men are also reluctant to complain, but you and I disagree on whether that is good or bad. I believe it is good. With that, I will rejoin my ilk and leave you in peace. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith February 3, 2016, 4:17 am

    Taylor, and so you join once again to get in a final parting blow, accusing of derogatory language and name-calling (without specifying what hurt your feelings so), to prove that men listen so well and are so fair. (But, please do share your ward/stake with us. We’d all love to see the model!)

    P.S. You do know what “ilk” means, right? Assuming so, that can’t be what got your knickers so twisted. I guess it’s just having uppity women disagree with you?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Mormon Hacks: Preschool EditionMy Profile

  • Taylor February 3, 2016, 9:11 am

    Wow, quick reply. I’m not offended believe it or not, my knickers are quite intact and I have no problem with uppity women, but your last post made it pretty clear you are not interested in dragging out our discussion. If I’m wrong and you want to continue the debate I’m happy to do so, but I don’t think you are.. I do know the definition of ilk. It is only a three-letter word, but I’ve never seen it used except to show disdain. It makes no difference what stake or ward I’m in; at best you would only view it as an outlier and an exception to the rule.

  • Katie February 3, 2016, 10:49 am

    “your last post made it pretty clear you are not interested in dragging out our discussion”

    I don’t think you read the same response I did. Alison replied in depth to pretty much every line of your previous comment, and she used rational, thoughtful arguments. I’ve accused her of shutting down discussion with others in the past, but this is certainly not one of those times.

    I want to know what ward you’re in. I’m in North Orem, so if I find out you’re in my ward or stake, I’ll know it wouldn’t even be worth the bother to discuss these types of issues with you if something came up.

  • Marcus February 3, 2016, 10:57 am

    My wife and I have three sons and a daughter and I have served in three bishoprics, once as a bishop and twice as first counselor, and on two high councils. I’d be interested in seeing a ward or stake where the Young Women get as much funding as the Young Men. In every case I’ve heard this claim the bishop conveniently forgets the non-budgetary funding like Friends of Scouting. The handbook sets limits on fundraising, but those limits only apply to the Young Women practically speaking because scouting is the activity arm for the Young Men and scouting has its own fundraising rules.

    Look, all my boys are scouts and I’m an Eagle Scout. I love scouting and hope the church keeps it in the youth program for a long time. But we’ll never get anywhere if we lie about how scouting works in the church or if we insist it doesn’t matter that we provide more benefits to your Young Men or if we aren’t willing to look at blatant sexist situations and try to fix them. I’m much more sensitive to this as I watch my own daughter enter the youth programs. It’s time we stop making excuses.

    Taylor, after reading through all these comments I think you should step back and take a breath. You’re not making us look good, my friend, because you don’t seem to be able to take a woman’s opinion because you seem to think you have to be right. I’ll say it’s a hard line to follow, being in charge and the leader and being able to be humble and receptive. Allison isn’t in your stewardship and isn’t your subordinate, whether you have the priesthood or not and you should not treat her like she should bow to you or that if she speaks up strongly that she’s “resorting to name calling and derogatory language.” I think you’re uncomfortable dealing with a woman who dares to speak up and you think that’s the same as being disrespectful. But I can’t see what you’re claiming. You just seem thin-skinned.

    I think we would do better if we (the men and LEADERS) would listen to women and just take what they say at face value instead of trying to prove they are wrong and it’s fine to keep things how they have always been. It’s just time to get over that.

    I agree with Amphigory that we should have equal resources for both programs.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 3, 2016, 12:18 pm

    Taylor, the site shows my response was nearly five hours after yours. Should I have let yours marinate longer?

    I’m unsure how you came to the conclusion that I’m unwilling to discuss the issue. Comments are still open, last I checked. (Yup, still are…) I’ve tried to respond substantively to each of your comments and your response was to say you were leaving the conversation and accuse me of being uncivil. I suggest that your comment sounds far more like someone unwilling to discuss than mine.

    I try to use words accurately and carefully. Of course, I don’t always succeed, but assuming something nefarious when it’s not actually provided can be problematic. Ilk means “a type of people or things similar to those already referred to,” nothing more, nothing less. In the context:

    Why shouldn’t you and your ilk prove that parity in funding would not be good, since parity in funding seems, at very least, a respectable idea?

    Why shouldn’t you and [people similar to you] prove that parity in funding would not be good, since parity in funding seems, at very least, a respectable idea?

    It’s a pretty straight forward question.

    I will tell you what I suspect your answer is—although doubt you’ll admit it or word it this way. Most people of your ilk (heh) defend the status quo at almost any cost. Because we believe in inspired leadership, some believe that requires a defense of or apologetics around nearly every practical policy choice ever made in the church. No logic required and no discussion allowed. I don’t think that’s what it means to be faithful, but many (sadly) do.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Tolerance Is Not a VirtueMy Profile

  • Bryce March 6, 2016, 11:45 pm

    As one of those youth that could have been one of your child’s “homosexual” friends (however problematic that term is, as you yourself admit to) I can honestly say that, after reading your incredible piece on the impact of bullying, I am shocked to hear such a sentiment as “I do not want my kids to go on sleepovers or campouts with homosexual friends of the same gender” coming from you. You yourself know keenly the terrible effect that rejection, exclusion and isolation has on impressionable youth and teenagers. To have heard that coming from leaders or parents of my scouting acquaintances as a youth would have absolutely crushed my soul, and plays into the fears that kept me from being vulnerable with any of them about my struggles. It would have only reinforced the constant message that I already had playing in my head as a young man: that I am irrepressibly different from the other young men and do not deserve their affection or attention. Not only this, but it would have cut me off from the source of healing that many adult Mormon men with homosexuality only later realized were missing in their lives as youth: acceptance and love from other men and boys. To declare “You are homosexual, and therefore you cannot be around my child because danger” is to isolate those young men from the chance to feel normal, thus reinforcing the very identified-by-sexual-feelings that you found to be wrong in the lives of most of the homosexual people you knew then.

    Please do not try to make homosexuality the same thing as opposite-sex sexual attractions. It is not the same. It does not deserve to be treated the same. Very often it comes from a keen, natural and unfulfilled desire among these young men to connect to other young and adult men in a loving and intimate way. To isolate these young men from the chance to form such connections with their peers like they so desperately need and desire is to isolate them from the very opportunities that would allow them to heal and grow; not necessarily “fix” their homosexuality, but to enable them to be healthy with it.

    That all being said, I do appreciate the insights you’ve provided me on the problem of youth programs in the Church and on the effects of bullying from a Mormon perspective. I’ve found your writing valuable and hope you will continue.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 7, 2016, 1:36 am

    Bryce, it seems I’ve hid a chord with you, but your comment seems to disregard a great deal of what I wrote without specifying why. Perhaps you can clarify.

    As one of those youth that could have been one of your child’s “homosexual” friends (however problematic that term is, as you yourself admit to)…

    Sorry, I tried a quick scan, but where did I say that “homosexual friends” is a problematic term (or “‘homosexual’ friends,” whatever that might mean)?

    I am shocked to hear such a sentiment as “I do not want my kids to go on sleepovers or campouts with homosexual friends of the same gender” coming from you. You yourself know keenly the terrible effect that rejection, exclusion and isolation has on impressionable youth and teenagers.

    Given the thorough explanation of why I wouldn’t want it, why are you shocked and why do you disagree? I also “reject” female attendees for my sons’ sleepovers. Are you worried the girls are too fragile to deal with it? Are you worried that will be irreparably harmed from being excluded from more private situations? It’s not my parental obligation to invite impressionable teenage boys to sleep in the family room with my daughter, just to they don’t feel excluded or isolated. I wouldn’t put them in that situation.

    To have heard that coming from leaders or parents of my scouting acquaintances as a youth would have absolutely crushed my soul, and plays into the fears that kept me from being vulnerable with any of them about my struggles.

    Having personally dealt with some issues as a kid and having some friends who did as well, to be really honest it’s not necessarily good or desirable for teenagers to be “vulnerable” with their peers about their “struggles.” You might romanticize that notion and think it would be amazing to be 100% “authentic” with everyone you know and to be offered a perfect peer support system, but the truth is teen peers are just other immature kids dealing with their own piles of crap. They don’t have the emotional maturity to process, manage, and appropriately deal with their own struggles, let alone the struggles of everyone they know and, frankly, when they try, they are pretty likely to muck it up, give horrid advice, or worse.

    The idea that unloading all our issues on other kids is probably ill-advised, no matter what the issue is. This isn’t just about sexual issues, but family situations, addictions, phobias, and chronic diseases, etc. Even adults with lots of experience have trouble truly being helpful to those in situations they don’t understand well.

    It would have only reinforced the constant message that I already had playing in my head as a young man: that I am irrepressibly different from the other young men and do not deserve their affection or attention.

    Bryce, you complain about being “irrepressibly different”—but isn’t that your own assessment and declaration? That you are, in fact, different (and probably irrepressibly so)? At least that is the general mantra we here. OK, so you’re attracted to other men and you were born that way and you can’t change. Everyone is supposed to accept that and embrace it…but also pretend it doesn’t mean anything at all if you don’t like the consequences—such as being excluded from sleeping and showering with those of the gender to which you are sexually attracted.

    You can’t play it both ways. Either it means something or it doesn’t. You choose. But when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other.

    Not only this, but it would have cut me off from the source of healing that many adult Mormon men with homosexuality only later realized were missing in their lives as youth: acceptance and love from other men and boys.

    A dear friend of mine has a homosexual brother (who is now in his 50s and married to another man). My friend and her brother have both acknowledged that he has a long held need for male attachment due to the lack of a loving father figure. I absolutely hope that anyone in such a situation can have those needs met to the extent possible. (In a family of mostly adoptees, I know that often that lack of youthful attachment is almost impossible to repair.)

    That desire, however, does not make it the responsibility of any parent to offer their son to you for your healing balm. It is not the responsibility of a parent to put their child in a vulnerable position in order to heal your soul. If you were heterosexual and needed a mother figure, I would do what I could to provide that. If you needed a close friend, I would not offer you my daughter, particularly when the “need” we are talking about is being described specifically with regard to sexual activity.

    To declare “You are homosexual, and therefore you cannot be around my child because danger”…

    But of course, I didn’t declare that. You did. You’ll have to explain why you jumped that shark.

    …is to isolate those young men from the chance to feel normal, thus reinforcing the very identified-by-sexual-feelings that you found to be wrong in the lives of most of the homosexual people you knew then.

    Bryce, I have (or had) bright red hair. About 2% of the population are gingers. It’s not “normal.” Similarly, human “normalcy” is heterosexuality. You can’t declare your homosexuality and then complain that people won’t let you “feel normal.” Or blame them for realizing it’s not. It’s unusual, it’s atypical, it’s just not the norm.

    Please do not try to make homosexuality the same thing as opposite-sex sexual attractions. It is not the same. It does not deserve to be treated the same.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t think it’s the same thing. But if you want special dispensations regarding homosexuality you have to make a really good case for it, and I haven’t seen that here.

    Very often it comes from a keen, natural and unfulfilled desire among these young men to connect to other young and adult men in a loving and intimate way. To isolate these young men from the chance to form such connections with their peers like they so desperately need and desire is to isolate them from the very opportunities that would allow them to heal and grow; not necessarily “fix” their homosexuality, but to enable them to be healthy with it.

    I can’t quite tell what your position is. You seem to indicate that (at least some) homosexuality isn’t really about same-sex sexual relationships, but of filling an unfilled needs to connect. Yet, you say homosexuals need to “heal and grow” in some unidentified way that will not change their orientation. So, there’s the rub. If you are a homosexual and all the connection and platonic love in the world still leaves you attracted to males, I’m not inviting you to sleep with my teenage son. And the same will go to all the girls who are attracted to boys. I’m sorry, but my son has no duty to try to give you peer love and connection in vulnerable ways.

    If you’d like to clarify your positions or add more insights, I’d welcome the input.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Gospel of Inclusivity and NothingnessMy Profile

  • Carmen March 8, 2016, 3:54 pm

    Allison, your response to Bryce was refreshing. Rather than bow to his demands to be healed, you rationally dismantled his argument.

    Bryce, I agree 100 per cent with Allison. I hope you gain the connection you want and need. But as long as that longing extends to you claiming to be sexually oriented toward men, no parent in their right mind (who valued virtue) would invite you to participate in close personal situations with their son. You want to be treated normally, but when you are, you complain.

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