Pulse of Canada

Pulse of Canada: Should gay boys be allowed to be boy scouts?

Each Friday, Yahoo! Canada News asks Canadians where they stand on the important issues of the day, and our panel of experts tackles the same question.

In the U.S., gays are not allowed to become Boy Scouts. There’s no such rule in Canada. Do you have issues with gay boys being boy scouts?

Here's what you said:

Should gay boys be allowed to join the Boy Scouts?In the U.S., gays are not allowed to become Boy Scouts. There’s no such rule in Canada. This week on Pulse of Canada we ask Canadians if they have issues with gay boys being Boy Scouts?

And here's what we said:

Thomas Bink: OK, here’s my question: What does a kid’s sexuality have to do with being a boy scout? These kids should be focused on the core aims of scouting: Being good citizens, earning badges and learning skills. Scouting shouldn’t be about sexuality, and therefore a kid’s sexuality really shouldn’t be an issue. I understand what the U.S. is thinking when they ban gays from the Boy Scouts – they don’t want a boy’s sexuality to be an issue in troops. And I get that it’s a pretty closed-minded perspective, because a boy is a boy regardless of his orientation. But really, can’t we just focus on making these kids good adults and not have sex get in the way of that? I mean, these are just kids, for Pete’s sake.

Matthew Coutts: Yeah, this is a ridiculous non-starter. How is this even a debate these days? The U.S. military has accepted homosexual servicemen, and I’d bet the Boy Scouts of America are a straight shot away from abandoning the stance themselves. The major hurdle in the U.S. is some troops are sponsored by disapproving church groups. So be it. Leave it up to each chapter to decide on their own policy. End the national ban, and let the U.S. deal with the stragglers on a case-by-case basis. As for Canada, there should be no consideration for such a ban.

Andy Radia: I agree with you both. For the life of me, I don't understand how this can be an issue in a modern "Western" country in the year 2013. I think it goes to show just how much influence the religious right still has in that country. One of the articles that I read had a quote from someone suggesting that gay scout leaders would lead to higher risk of molestations. In other words, he was equating homosexuals to sexual predators. How ridiculous is that?

Bink: Wait a second, let’s take a step back here. If we’re all agreeing that sexuality shouldn’t be an issue in scouts, then how can we oppose the U.S. ban on gay kids? They’re ensuring sexuality is a non-issue by simply not allowing homosexuals into their troops. That way, boy scouts are focusing on earning badges, tying knots and helping old ladies across the street. By allowing homosexuals into the scouting ranks in Canada, their sexuality could be an issue that interferes with the goals and focus of scouting. So couldn’t you agree that a ban could be the right way to ensure it’s not an issue?

Coutts: I don’t see it becoming any less of an issue by introducing a ban on gay children. It would just become a more hot-button issue. Not to mention that having a troop of heterosexual boys doesn’t take the issue of sexuality out of the mix. Kids of all sexual preferences, if they even know what that is at that age, have to deal with sexuality. If the Scouts are supposed to prepare they for the real world, respecting diversity and inclusivity should be one of their lessons.

Radia: Right on, Matt. I know the proponents of the ban will try to rationalize this but this is discrimination at its worst. Boy Scouts are banning a group of individuals because of their sexual orientation. I don't see how this is different from banning people because of the colour of their skin or their race, social class, height, etc. Thankfully, it looks like there's a backlash afoot from Boy Scout sponsors and hopefully that will force the change.

Bink: Yeah, tough subject but I think we’re on the same page. Scouting can be a good experience for kids – the organization just needs to figure out how to adapt to changes in society to keep it that way.

Coutts: Absolutely. Just no girls.

So, what do you think? Have your say in the comments area below.

The Pulse of Canada appears each Wednesday and Friday
on Yahoo! Canada News.