Boy Scouts Survey Members on Homosexuality

Thursday, March 14, 2013

boy scouts (Preston Kemp/flickr)

After years of standing by its policy of remaining a straights-only organization, The Boy Scouts of America made headlines earlier in January when they said they'd consider lifting the ban on homosexual scouts and leaders. They made good on their word this month, when they sent out 1.1 million surveys to Boy Scout staff and leaders.

These surveys gauge how Boy Scout leaders feel about everything from gay scout parents to affiliations with pro-gay-rights churches.

Jason Pettis is one of the leaders who received the survey. He is a scoutmaster for Golden Troop 130, which is chartered by the First United Methodist Church of Golden. He says that his unit welcomes this reevaluation: "The national policy has been in place for a while, but at the local level a lot of times units, my unit as well, kind of looks at it and goes, 'You know that doesn’t quite sit with some of the ways that we feel.' So I’m glad they’re reaching out right now and trying to reconsider what’s going on with that policy."

The survey is a way for the national organization to gauge how scouts and scout leaders would feel and react to different scenarios that might arise from a policy change. Some examples of questions he was asked include, "A gay boy would like to join your unit, how would you feel about that? How would other boys potentially feel if they had to tent with this boy?" 

Pettis believes that these questions are a precautionary measure designed to try to prevent any uncomfortable situations from arising. "I personally would not have a problem with that," he says of the survey questions, "and I hope that my troops wouldn’t have a problem with that either."


Jason Pettis

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [7]

Lynn Santel from Portland, OR

I'm still stewing about Mr. Hockenberry's terrible interview. Not only did he make utterly offensive suggestions such as the "show tunes" badge, nothing in the interview illuminated anything about basic issues of inclusion and treating others with dignity. Instead, the interviewer took every opportunity to make it clear that gay scouts would be seen as weird and/or funny.

My son is not gay, but he will not be a Boy Scout because my husband and I cannot, in good conscience, support an organization that discriminates. I was hoping for some deeper discussion and was sadly disappointed.

Shame on you. You owe your listeners, gay and straight alike, an apology.

Mar. 18 2013 03:51 PM
Chrystal from Oak CLiff

If I wanted to hear stereotypical remarks in bad taste, I could listen to AM conservative talk shows.

While perhaps you are incapable of taking a supportive stand, at least remaining neutral would have been wise, considering the number a LGBT listeners in the Dallas area, and also their families and friends.

On top of everything, the so-called "humor" was not even that clever. Nothing we could not have found in a Junior High lunch room. Hope you are proud of yourself.

Mar. 15 2013 11:30 AM
Meredith Hostetter from Brooklyn, NY

How utterly offensive to hear John Hockenberry ask his guest if there would be badges for "show tunes". Promoting stereotypes about gay men does nothing to improve the myriad human and civil rights challenges they face. Mr. Hockenberry's glib and insensitive remark ought to be addressed with a public apology from him as well as some private reflection on his own biases.

Mar. 15 2013 08:37 AM
Eric Anctil from Portland, Oregon


A daily listener here (and someone who has followed your career for many years). Today's interview on the topic of gay scouts was terrible. Besides the insensitive and stereotypical "merit badge for show tunes" comment, which others have called you out on, I am equally disappointed by the general tone of the questions and the conversation. You and your guest each talked about gay kids as if they are lepers. I thought you did a nice job when you made the point to your guest that the average teenager was unlikely to meet his first gay peer in scouts, but then you allowed the interview to veer off into stereotypes and talking about gays as "Others." The whole tone of the conversation sent the message to anyone gay who might be listening, "Something is wrong with you" and "You're not normal." I challenge you to go back and listen to the interview and imagine that your kid was the one being talked about. Gay kids, or the kids of gay parents, just want to do normal kid stuff. They aren't "gay scouts," they're just scouts. Likewise, they aren't "gay baseball players" or "gay pizza eaters". They're just ballplayers or kids who eat pizza who happen to be gay. Until we treat them like everyone else, they will continue to experience prejudice like so many other marginalized groups in our country.


Eric Anctil

Mar. 15 2013 12:27 AM
Sean Loughlin from Dallas Texas

I can not believe the comments made by the host during this segment. A badge for knowing show tunes! How insensitive of the host to treat gay men this way and perpetuate stereotypes. I wonder if your host would be so cavalier with comments to African Americans or other minorities. I believe he owes a public apology for being so thoughtless with his comments.

Mar. 14 2013 03:49 PM
Gideon Teiwaz from Austin, Texas

A "show tunes" badge? Really? Is that your perception of gay men? Amazing! How about recognizing that even gay boys and men would join the Boy Scouts in order to do the things that Boy Scouts presently do. What a sad commentary that a "show tunes" badge was the first thing that popped into your mind and out of your mouth. My gay friends are much more than the stereotypes that keep proliferating on TV... and obviously, now, radio.

Mar. 14 2013 03:43 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I have no problem with gay kids in the boy scouts or Gay Leaders in the boy scouts, but there sure are a lot of jokes that come out of the scenario.

Mar. 14 2013 02:27 PM

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