Father Peter Daly, a The National Catholic Reporter columnist, published an op-ed praising the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to include gay youth. Father Daly, a pastor and former Scout, outlines why it is in the Church's and BSA's best interests to support inclusion for all Scouts.
Father Daly outlines the only real change this brings to the BSA on the ground: acceptance.
"Boys can now be honest about themselves to others without fear of reprisal by the Scout leaders. Let's face it: There have always been gay Scouts. Just like there have always been gay men in the military and in the priesthood. In fact, we have always had some gay bishops, whether they want to admit it or not.
What is different now for our boys is that they no longer have to be afraid. They do not have to be afraid of reprisals and bullying. They do not have to be afraid that if someone knows they are gay, they will be excluded or expelled."
He goes on to point out the hardships these youth are already experiencing.
“Growing up is hard enough without an added layer of fear and discrimination.
Gay boys are no different from any other boys. They are experiencing their maturation in fits and starts. They are discovering what it is to be a man. They are figuring out what it means to love. If the boy is a Catholic, he is also discovering what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. That is hard for us all, whether we are hetero or homosexual, but there is an added a layer of difficulty for gay adolescents. I've witnessed this in my own ministry.
Three times in my 27 years as a priest, I have had to sit across the room from young men who tried to commit suicide because they were gay. Three times, I have heard their anguish as they told me that their church regarded them as "intrinsically disordered" and their love as seriously immoral. Three times I have had to hear them say that part of the reason for their despair was our preaching.”
Father Daly also takes this oppurtunity to push for change within The Catholic Church's own policies.
“Conservative Catholic theologians would no doubt demand that I condemn all homosexual acts as immoral. They would want pastors to insist that all gay boys must learn to carry their unique cross of perpetual life-long chastity, a burden we would never dream of imposing on heterosexuals. They would want me to say that all gay acts are evil and all inclinations are intrinsically disordered.
Well, let them say it. Let them say it to those boys who tried to commit suicide. Let them say it to the frightened little Scout who is still figuring out himself.
It is easy to be some ivory-tower theologian writing in the abstract. They are not speaking as pastors or parents or Scout leaders. There is truth in lived experience, too, just as much as in theories. That is real ‘ontological’ truth.”
Father Daly finishes his piece by bringing it down to real world experience.
"People who actually deal with gay youth know the Scouts did the right thing.
The Catholic church should support them."
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s orginal Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.