Pediatricians and family practitioners should carefully consider the implications of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy excluding homosexual persons from membership.
According to a national BSA spokesperson, an openly gay child may be "worked with" and asked to leave the BSA if he or she persists in being gay. Openly gay scoutmasters like James Dale are asked to leave despite outstanding records of leadership, compassion, and skill. The BSA policy tells children and parents that if they are gay there is something wrong with them. They are told that people who are gay are morally unclean and unfit role models. There is no medical evidence to suggest an association between homosexuality and impaired moral judgment. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents do not differ from children raised by heterosexual parents with respect to emotional and social adaptation, self-esteem, gender identity, sexual behavior, or sexual orientation.1 By asserting that "an avowed homosexual is not a role model for traditional family values," the BSA stands without scientific foundation. There is evidence that gay youth have a significantly higher rate of suicide attempts and health risk behaviors than their heterosexual peers.2- 3 Messages of societal intolerance undoubtedly play a significant role in that trend and in promoting hate crimes. The BSA therefore practices and promotes misunderstanding and intolerance, contradicting its own stated mission, with potentially life-threatening consequences.