The forthcoming Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Council vote on its membership standards has drawn national attention and passionate voices on all sides. To study the ramifications of changing its long-standing policy to allow openly-identified homosexuals to join its ranks, BSA embarked on a “comprehensive listening exercise,” drawing perspectives from both “inside and outside of the Scouting family.” The Executive Summary of this study was released on April 30, 2013. Based on its findings, the national leadership of BSA is recommending that the membership standards be changed to allow scouts of any sexual orientation, but to continue to bar participation by openly homosexual adult leaders.
This white paper is a response to both the revised BSA membership policy, as well to some of the key expert opinions upon which it is at least partly based. In particular, the Executive Summary notes that “Youth safety and role modeling are two of the biggest concerns mentioned by members who oppose a change in the policy.” To address these concerns, BSA contacted four “leading experts in the field of youth protection and child sexual abuse prevention,” all of whom “were consistent in their findings and recommendations, including:”
- “The nearly universal opinion among sexual abuse authorities is that same-sex sexual interest or same-sex sexual experience, either in adults or youth, is NOT a risk factor for sexually abusing children.”
- In regard to role modeling: “Most of the research on the effect on children of associating with self-identified homosexual adults has been done about homosexual parents. The clear conclusion from this research is that there appear to be no effects on children’s adjustment, mental health or sexual orientation.”
What is the significance of the proposed BSA policy change?
As our culture has rapidly shifted over the past two generations, particularly with the embrace of gay rights and legalization of homosexuality, the Boy Scouts of America is one of the few large-scale institutions that has held fast to its policy of excluding openly homosexual scouts and leaders. It has done so publicly on the basis of traditional morality and more privately due to a significant Christian/religious presence within scouting, but underneath the public rationale is another concern: traditional wisdom and common sense have long held that homosexuals pose a legitimate physical threat to boys via sexual molestation (today known as child sexual abuse or CSA).
The BSA membership standards study acknowledges this concern, but flatly rejects its validity. In fact, the study asserts that according to its scientific experts, there is NO risk of CSA associated with one’s sexual orientation, and that there is likewise no risk of scouts ‘catching’ or developing homosexual interests from openly homosexual role models (whether older scouts or adult leaders). Are these claims true? Is traditional common sense completely wrong? Does it really not make any difference whether a scout or leader is homosexual? Read on to find out.
Do nearly all sexual abuse experts agree that homosexual interests and/or experience are NOT a risk factor in child sexual abuse?
Yes, on its face, this claim is true. The field of sexual abuse research is dominated by liberal academics who are highly sympathetic to gay rights. In addition, there is great internal and external pressure on academicians to publicly ‘toe the line’ when it comes to supporting homosexuality, even if they do not personally agree with the gay rights movement. As such, the vast majority of studies on CSA — especially over the last 20 to 30 years — either conclude that homosexuality is not a risk factor for CSA or offer disclaimers as to why other factors besides homosexuality must be to blame for the disproportionate share of CSA among males-who-have-sex-with-males (MSM).
Of crucial importance, opinions — even by so-called ‘experts‘ — are not the same as empirical evidence. That’s the rub: in the same studies where researchers opine that homosexuality and CSA are not linked, the actual data almost invariably tell a different story. Further, other studies and sources of evidence contrary to these claims are often ignored by the experts or classified as ‘discredited’ or ‘disreputable,’ and therefore not worth citing when assessing the scientific ‘consensus.’
What are the empirical facts about childhood sexual abuse (CSA)? Is homosexuality disproportionately linked to CSA?
Two critical pieces of information are needed to answer these questions. First is the prevalence of individuals with homosexual interests and/or who engage in homosexual behavior. The most up-to-date estimates from the Centers for Disease Control show that a small fraction — probably no more than 3-4% — of the male populace is primarily homosexual or bisexual in preference. Another 3-4% of adult males claim to have had any lifetime homosexual encounters. So homosexuality is currently ever experienced by around 7% of the adult male population, with more active participation claimed by at most half that percentage.1
The second piece of information is the proportion of childhood sexual abuse involving homosexual behavior. Empirical studies very consistently show that males-who-have-sex-with-males (MSM) — the tiny minority referenced above — account for approximately 30-40% of all cases of child sexual abuse. That is, 30-40% of all CSA involves either male-on-male or female-on-female contact, primarily the former. So while the raw majority of all abuse cases involve female victims and male-on-female contact, a substantial minority of cases — probably more than a third — involve homosexual (male-on-male) abuse.2
Overall, the relative risk of sexual abuse by MSM far outweighs the risk of sexual abuse by heterosexual males. Statistically, the relative risk is likely anywhere from 6 to 20 times as great, depending on the precise percentage of CSA attributable to homosexual contact and the actual prevalence of homosexually active individuals.
Is it true that same-sex child molesters are pedophiles and not really homosexuals? Are not most so-called homosexual molesters actually heterosexual pedophiles?
The term pedophile was invented by psychiatrists to classify those who have sexual interests in children. It attempts to describe the motivation and inner desires of a child abuser. It is also regularly used by sexual abuse ‘experts’ and academicians to ‘explain’ how male-on-male CSA is not an example of homosexuality but rather of pedophilia (child victim) or perhaps ephebophilia (teenage victim).
The problem with these terms is that motivations and desires are hard to pin down and may change over time or in different circumstances. Behavior is not only easier to assess and quantify, but is generally the best reflection of one’s motivations. This is why early in the AIDS epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stopped labeling individuals by sexual orientation and instead classified them by behavior (e.g., males-who-have-sex-with-males [MSM]). By this reckoning, all male-on-male CSA is homosexual molestation, even as all male-on-female CSA is heterosexual molestation.
But there is a further important distinction. While psychiatry has defined pedophilia as an exclusive or primary sexual interest in children, in reality very few individuals fit the definition. The vast majority of molesters also have sex with other adults (often spouses) or individuals of various ages. This is especially true for perpetrators of homosexual CSA, who often claim to have a homosexual orientation or homosexual desires.
Studies of child molesters demonstrate that the perpetrators frequently identify themselves as homosexual or as having homosexual inclinations. In one study where the question was asked directly, 86% of men who sexually abused boys labeled themselves as bisexual or homosexual.3 Other investigations of groups of convicted child molesters (including all types of offenders and both boy and girl victims) reported that the fraction of those who were homosexual or who had “significant homosexual experiences” ranged from 22% to 60%.4
The linkage between homosexuality and CSA is also documented in large-scale studies of homosexuals themselves, conducted by gay-sympathetic researchers. The original Kinsey study in 19485 found that 28% of non-delinquent male homosexuals and 20% of the overall sample of gays admitted to having sex, while adults (18+), with boys aged 15 or younger. The Kinsey Research Institute follow-up study in 19706 found a similar result: 23% admitted illegal sex with boys aged 16 or younger when the respondent was at least 21. Ditto for the 1979 Gay Report survey of over 4,300 male homosexuals, which reported that 22% admitted to illegal homosexual CSA.7
In reality, those with homosexual interests tend to be quite sexually flexible, unlike individuals who claim no homosexual desire. One national random survey found that the majority of the self-identified gay men had been sexually aroused by the opposite sex (73%), had had sex with the opposite sex in adulthood (54%), were currently sexually attracted to the opposite sex (54%), and/or had been in love with a member of the opposite sex (66%).8 Other studies have reported that no more than one to five percent of admitted gays claim to have only had sex with other males. The overwhelming majority also admit to having had sex with females.9
No one in the Kinsey Institute follow-up study cited above claimed to be a pedophile in the sense that they exclusively or primarily had sex with children. All of the 23% who admitted to illegal sex with boys said that the underage accounted for “half or less” of their sexual partners. Sex researcher Alfred Kinsey himself has been accused of being a pedophile, but whether or not that claim is true, it is well documented that he was not only homosexual, with scores if not hundreds of male partners, but also married with children, and had sex with his colleagues and their wives, as well as students.10
Is it true that associating with self-identified homosexuals has no effect on a child’s adjustment, mental health, or sexual orientation?
The conclusion in the BSA membership standards study references the influence of homosexual adults and not homosexual scouts per se, and indeed there are no direct studies of homosexual teenagers as role models. So what can be said scientifically about homosexual scouts must be inferred from what we know about homosexual adults. But here again the empirical evidence — though not extensive — is diametrically opposed to the claims of BSA’s ‘experts.’ The influence of being around, under the authority of, or living with homosexuals appears to be considerable.
With regard to parenting, there is decent evidence that homosexual parents have children who are much more apt to engage in homosexuality. Indeed, enough to suggest that perhaps as many as a third of children with homosexual parents end up engaging in homosexuality.11 Several studies also report a number of harms associated with having had a homosexual parent.12
A smaller set of evidence has also been gathered on homosexual teachers. In one national study, approximately 12% of the males and 4% of the females who claimed to have had a homosexual teacher said that the teacher made sexual advances toward them. About a fifth of those who said that they had a homosexual teacher also said that they were influenced by that teacher to regard homosexuality as socially acceptable. And four percent of both sexes claimed that the teacher influenced them to try homosexuality.13
It would be a mistake for BSA to ignore the potential influence of older homosexual scouts on younger scouts in their patrols and troops; or while at scout camps, backpacking, or at other scouting events. Scouting is fundamentally structured to encourage role modeling of the younger by the older. Accepting homosexual scouts will encourage acceptance of homosexuality and may indeed influence some scouts to ‘give it a try.’
Is current BSA policy born of ignorance and prejudice?
Although it is commonly asserted that there are no legitimate reasons to discriminate against homosexuality, and that any objections to homosexual acceptance stem from ignorant cultural or religious bias, in truth there is every reason to uphold the current BSA membership standard. Long experience and common sense are consistent with the scientific reality that homosexual scout leaders and scouts pose a clear and present danger to Scouting.
A half century ago, the risks of homosexuality could be openly stated in a way that our politically correct culture no longer tolerates. A special assistant attorney general of California said in 1949 “The sex pervert, in his more innocuous form is too frequently regarded as merely a ‘queer’ individual who never hurts anyone but himself. All too often we lose sight of the fact that the homosexual is an inveterate seducer of the young of both sexes and is ever seeking for younger victims.”14
British Judge J.T. Rees commented about the same time that “the male homosexual naturally seeks the company of the male adolescent, or of the young male adult, in preference to that of the fully-grown male. [In 1947,] 986 persons were convicted of homosexual and unnatural offences. Of those, 257 were indictable offences involving 402 male victims…. The great majority of [whom]… were under the age of 16. Only 11%… were over 21…. it is vain to blind oneself to the fact that the problem of male homosexuality is in essence the problem of the corruption of youth by itself [i.e., by other boys] and by its elders. [And thereby]… the creation… of new addicts ready to corrupt a still further generation of young men and boys in the future.”15
This is not a new problem, nor has the nature of homosexuality changed in any substantive way. The solution is to be vigilant in protecting scouts and the organization of Scouting from influences that will bring significant harm.
What does the BSA risk by changing its policy to allow homosexual scouts?
The BSA executive leadership evidently believes it has drawn a workable compromise by proposing to allow homosexual scouts, but not homosexual adult leaders. After all, the BSA previously implemented its two-deep leadership policy and scout protection rules in order to prevent instances of molestation. Unfortunately, even with these measures, a small number of both male adult leaders and scouts have ignored scouting’s moral standards and sexually abused or attempted to sexually assault other scouts.16
Given the empirical link between homosexuality and CSA, this can only get worse if BSA opens its ranks to homosexual scouts. For the adults in scouting are often not the ones leading events. Rather it is older scouts who are being trained as leaders and who spend time with the scouts in intimate settings such as tents and restrooms, and on campouts, hikes, and other activities.
While adult leaders caught in molestation generate the most news coverage, youth-on-youth abuse is no less harmful. Homosexual CSA can have long-lasting, perhaps permanent, negative impacts on boys and young men. A number of studies report that the risk of mental health conditions — including depression, anxiety, self-mutilation, drug abuse, attempted suicide, etc. — is twice as great for victims of CSA as for those who never experience such abuse.17
In addition, CSA victims frequently exhibit over-sexualized behavior, putting them at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI) and/or adopting the very behavioral pattern to which they were subjected. A recent large-scale study found that almost 20% of self-identified homosexuals and bisexuals had experienced homosexual CSA in their own lives, compared to less than 5% of heterosexuals. The relative risks of having experienced homosexual molestation compared to male heterosexuals were 9.5 times higher for gays and 12.8 times higher for male bisexuals.18 Thus, in a perhaps counter-intuitive way, homosexual CSA is indeed a form of modeling upon which boys and young men can become fixated due to the physical pleasure associated with the abuse.
What are the likely ramifications to BSA if the current policy is changed?
Despite the current ban on self-identified homosexuals, individuals with homosexual interests continue to infiltrate Scouting in order to be close to unsuspecting boys and young men. A new study involving a systematic Google news search over the past year of media-reported child sexual abuse (CSA) cases identified four Boy Scout leaders caught or accused of CSA, including three accused of homosexual molestation.19 The study also identified homosexual CSA in 9 of 24 (38%) teachers, 2 of 2 boys or girls club leaders, and 5 of 9 (55%) coaches and instructors. Overall, of a total of 210 perpetrators, nearly 41% allegedly engaged in homosexual CSA, entirely consistent with past studies and other databases on this topic.
Given these facts, the realities of changing current BSA policy to allow open homosexuals would include the following:
- Unsuspecting boys and young men — entrusted to the Scouts by their families — would be forced to share close, intimate quarters (sometimes in remote areas) with individuals who may have sexual interests in them, thus subjecting these scouts to the vastly heightened risk of homosexual CSA. The impact of any sexual molestation can be traumatic and long-lasting.
- BSA would be forced to change its long-standing moral code, thus alienating a large majority of families that have trusted Scouts to promote its stated values of “clean,” “reverent,” and “morally straight.” By allowing open homosexuals, all scouts, regardless of their personal or family beliefs, will be given the clear message that the Boy Scouts endorses homosexuality. In addition, great pressure will be brought to bear — both externally from the media and homosexual supporters, and internally from homosexual scouts (especially as they rise through the ranks and want to become adult leaders after scouting) — to allow and accept homosexuals at all levels, including adults.
- BSA will be placed under significant legal scrutiny and risk of damaging lawsuits. It is one thing for individuals to secretly subvert Scout policy against child sexual abuse. It is another for the Boy Scouts to accept open homosexuals when there is clear scientific documentation of the vastly greater risk of male-on-male CSA by homosexuals and those with homosexual interests. Boy Scouts has already paid large sums of money to victims of CSA due to its past negligence in protecting scouts. Opening the door to avowed homosexuals would only exacerbate this legal peril, since it would be argued that the Boy Scouts knowingly allowed high-risk individuals into its ranks.
- Purcell D, et al (2012) Estimating the population size of men who have sex with men in the United States to obtain HIV and syphilis rates. The Open AIDS Journal 6: 98-107. ↩
- Human Rights Watch (2008) World Report (p. 52); Siegel JM, et al (1987) The prevalence of childhood sexual assault. American Journal of Epidemiology 126: 1141-1153; Cameron P & Cameron K (2003) Right or Wrong? Should the Boy Scouts Exclude Homosexuals? Colorado Springs: Family Research Institute. ↩
- Erickson WD et al (1988) Behavior patterns of child molesters. Archives of Sexual Behavior 17: 77-86. ↩
- Freund K & Watson RJ (1992) The proportions of heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles among sex offenders against children: an exploratory study. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 18: 34-43; Freund K et al (1984) Pedophilia and heterosexuality vs. homosexuality. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 10: 193-200; Boston Globe (1988) Quoted by A. Bass, Aug 8; (1971) Child molesting. Sexual Behavior 1: 16-24; Knight RA (1991) Interview at his presentation Differential prevalence of personality disorders in rapists and child molesters. Eastern Psych Assoc Convention, New York, Apr 12; Wasserman J et al (1986) Adolescent sex offenders — Vermont 1984. Journal American Medical Assoc 255: 181-182; Marshal WL et al (1991) Early onset and deviant sexuality in child molesters. Journal Interpersonal Violence 6: 323-336; Bradford JMW et al (1988) The heterogeneity/homogeneity of pedophilia. Psychiatric Journal Univ Ottawa 13: 217-226. ↩
- Kinsey A et al (1948) Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: Saunders; Gebhard PH & Johnson AB (1979) The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the 1938-1963 Interviews Conducted by the Institute for Sex Research. New York: Saunders. ↩
- Bell AP & Weinberg M (1978) Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women. New York: Simon & Schuster. ↩
- Jay K & Young A (1979) The Gay Report. NY: Summit. ↩
- Cameron P et al (1989) Effect of homosexuality upon public health and social order. Psychological Reports 64: 1167-1179; Cameron P et al (1988) Homosexuals in the armed forces. Psychological Reports 62: 211-219. ↩
- Roberts S & Turner C (1991) Male-male sexual contact in USA. Journal Sex Research 28: 491-519. ↩
- Jones JH (1997) Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life. New York: WW Norton & Co. ↩
- Cameron P (1999) Homosexual parents: testing “common sense” — a literature review emphasizing the Golombok and Tasker longitudinal study of lesbians’ children. Psychological Reports 85: 282-322; Cameron P (2006) Children of homosexuals and transsexuals more apt to be homosexual. Journal Biosocial Science 38: 413-418. ↩
- Cameron P & Cameron K (1998) Homosexual parents: a comparative forensic study of character and harms to children. Psychological Reports 82: 1155-1191; Sarantakos S (1996) Children in three contexts: family, education, and social development. Children Australia 21: 23-31; Cameron P & Cameron K (2002) Children of homosexual parents report childhood difficulties. Psychological Reports 90: 71-82; Regnerus M (2012) How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. Social Science Research 41: 752-770. ↩
- Cameron P et al (1986) Child molestation and homosexuality. Psychological Reports 58: 327-337. ↩
- Jones JH (1997) Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life. New York: WW Norton & Co. ↩
- Rees JT & Usill HV (1956) They Stand Apart. New York: MacMillan, pp. 28-29. ↩
- Boyle P (1994) Scouts Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution. Prima Publishing. ↩
- Rohde P et al (2008) Associations of child sexual and physical abuse with obesity and depression in middle-aged women. Child Abuse Neglect 32: 878-887; Dube SR (2009) Cumulative childhood stress and autoimmune diseases in adults. Psychosomatic Medicine 71: 243-250; Waldrop AE (2007) Risk factors for suicidal behavior among a national sample of adolescents: implications for prevention. Journal of Traumatic Stress 20: 869-879. ↩
- Sweet TT & Welles SL (2012) Associations of sexual identity or same-sex behaviors with history of childhood sexual abuse and HIV/STI risk in the United States. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 59(4): 400-408. ↩
- Cameron P & Proctor K (2013) Unpublished research, personal correspondence, May 7, 2013. ↩