The bosses of the Boy Scouts of America surprised everyone this week by postponing their decision on whether to allow gay leaders and gay Scouts to join their ranks.
If the BSA's
long-standing ban on gays is lifted by national officials in May, the
choice to admit gays may be left to local Boy Scout chapters -- as it
and civic groups that sponsor Boy Scout troops wouldn't be forced by
the national organization to admit gays.
And parents can choose whether
they want their child to be in a troop led by a gay man.
you're asking me if I'd put my child in a Boy Scout troop with a leader
who is a known homosexual, I would answer on the side of caution and
despite what some of my conservative friends think, allowing gays in the
Boy Scouts will not be an open invitation to pedophiles to begin
preying on children.
gay doesn't mean you are a pedophile. Homosexuality and pedophilia are
two completely different issues and studies show that a child is no more
at risk of being molested by a gay or bisexual man than a heterosexual
who was sexually molested by a camp counselor when I was eight, I know
more than I care to about pedophilia and the long-lasting harm it does
to children. You can read about my experience and what I learned from it
in "Twice Adopted," my 2004 book.
is the most heinous crime against children.
But as the newspaper
headlines have been telling us for a long time, some of our most famous
institutions have a shameful record of coddling the child molesters who
work for them.
knows by now how the men in power at Penn State chose not to tell the
police about the serial pedophilia of former football coach Jerry
Sandusky because they were afraid to sully the reputation of their
"sacred" athletic program. Meanwhile, for years Sandusky was free to
prey on new victims.
State's decision to protect its institutional reputation was nothing
new. According to HBO's scathing new documentary "Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima
Culpa," the Catholic Church -- my church -- has implemented a similar
policy whenever pedophiles are discovered in its sanctuaries and
From Wisconsin to Ireland to the Vatican, HBO showed that the
church's bishops and cardinals have a long and disgusting history of
protecting pedophile priests, ignoring children's allegations of sexual
abuse, paying the parents of victims to keep quiet and keeping the sex
crimes of priests secret from law enforcement.
my hometown, we've recently been learning from the Los Angeles Times
how for decades the hierarchy of the Los Angeles diocese "plotted to
keep law enforcement from learning that children had been molested at
the hands of priests."
The BSA's similar method of dealing with child molesters in its ranks also has been exposed by the L.A. Times.
BSA's own files revealed that between 1970 and 1991 officials chose not
to tell police about hundreds of alleged sexual abuses, and in some
cases allowed the molesters to continue working or volunteering with the
one case, the Times reported last fall, a camp director who heard about
repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn't report them
because "his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and
the accused staff member."
men who run the Boy Scouts have something in common with the men who
run the Catholic Church and Penn State.
When it comes to dealing with
the sexual abuse of children, they've always chosen to protect their own
institutions instead of protecting children.
can be prevented and guarded against, but it's impossible to eliminate.
But from now on, when it is discovered, the perpetrators -- who on
average molest about 120 victims during their "career" -- should be
indicted and punished as criminals.
should be the case no matter who they are, whether they're straight or
gay, or what institution they work for.
Our innocent children deserve no