I am frequently asked to comment on many news stories involving culture and sexuality. Much of the time, I take a pass. Lead Them Home is heavily engaged in training church leader teams how to improve the conservative faith community’s outreach to LGBT+ people. This is our core role, and I want to stick to it. I do, however, want to take a brief opportunity to applaud the recent decision by the Boys Scouts of America to welcome all kids regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
I support this decision for several reasons:
First, institutional exclusionism harms youth. The typical gay teen has already experienced many acts of exclusion, bullying and teasing throughout his/her life. To intentionally prohibit their presence further accentuates the perception that they are rejected or disenfranchised persons.
Second, exclusion always reduces a whole person to one part of their being that is deemed unacceptable. Inclusion honors an individual as a whole person. This is important for mental and emotional health as well as social development.
Third, one of the key arguments against including LGBT+ youth was that it might increase the risk of gay youth becoming attracted to straight youth. This already happens – at school, at church, in other social groups, on sports teams, at teen camps, church retreats, and in neighborhoods. However, attraction is not sex! Most gay youth I encounter have a highly developed ability to deny their inner impulses in certain social settings. Most interested in Scouts are there for the scouting and camaraderie – not sexual activity.
Inclusion wins the day. I applaud this decision. It is healthy. This is an opportunity to learn to relate well to LGBT+ youth. This will reduce exclusion, a major risk factor for suicide among gay youth.
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