Forum Right, 5/8/12

The Boy Scouts Have a Right to Free Association Too

By Mark Luedtke

Before political correctness chilled speech in America, there used to be a great tradition of free speech summed up by the saying, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it.” In that tradition, I’m going to defend the right of the Boy Scouts of America to free association.

According to The Blaze, “The [Boy Scouts of America] organization said it believes Scouting is not the right place for youngsters to be exposed to issues of sexual orientation.” That is absolutely correct. If the Boy Scouts stopped there, in this world where every leftist organization around deplorably pushes their ideal of sexuality and relationships onto children, this would be a heroic position. Unfortunately the Boy Scouts go further than they have to when they arbitrarily ban gays from being pack leaders.

But that is their right.

And I understand the sentiment despite disagreeing with the implementation. The vast majority of, if not all, children are born with a natural attraction to the opposite sex. That instinct evolved hundreds of millions of years ago and is responsible for the propagation of all complex species. It’s responsible for all the beauty and bounty of life on Earth. Putting children in a situation in which homosexual relationships are treated as equivalent to heterosexual relationships creates conflict between their environment and their most fundamental natural instincts, and the repercussions are unpredictable. The Boy Scouts should be commended for not wanting this to happen in their scout troops. But the Boy Scouts don’t have to ban gays to prevent it.

According to parents who attended Ohio Club 109 Tiger Scout meetings, lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrell never brought up her sexual orientation in front of the children, nor did she hide that she was a lesbian from parents and supervisors. She was reportedly a fine den mother, but ultimately Tyrell was ousted because she was gay, and now parents from her troop are demanding the Scouts reinstate her.

“The only people who were hurt were the kids,” said a father of one Tiger scout. “They’re asking questions they shouldn’t have to ask at this point.” So the Scouts’ policy has forced parents to explain the issue of sexual orientation to their children, creating the very situation they claim they want to avoid.

Tyrell hints that the organization may have had ulterior motives for ousting her, “Tyrell said she was removed in April, right after she was asked to take over as treasurer of the local Boy Scout troop — which oversees Tiger Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts – and she raised questions about the finances.” That’s convenient.

To their credit, Tyrell’s supporters so far haven’t tried to use threats of government violence to force their position on the Boy Scouts. Dozens of cases have been brought against the Boy Scouts in the past, but the Supreme Court settled the issue by upholding their right to free association in 2000, so any case would likely be shot down anyway. I’m happy to see this debate advance in a civilized fashion, without resort to government coercion, because reasonable people can come together and make rational decisions when threats of violence are not involved.

So this is an opportunity for Tyrell and her supporters to make a statement in the physical marketplace as well as the marketplace of ideas. They can spin off their own Tiger Scout group and compete with the Boy Scouts. If they are successful, it would pressure the Boy Scouts to change their policy. If Tyrell can make the case that her old group was mishandling funds, that could work in her favor too. The great thing about a competitive marketplace free from government coercion is that consumers can make the choices that fit their desires and the marketplace will sort out the winners and losers. The marketplace empowers people, so I hope Tyrell and her supporters take advantage of it.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at

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