FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Homophobia, American-Style

by HILLARY GIBSON

It’s been one year since Congress officially repealed the archaic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. A new wave of LGBT cadets is entering training academies without the burden of silence — well, almost. While the military has made progress toward freeing men and women in uniform from the closet, members of the armed forces who identify as transgender were left entirely out of the equation.

Take the case of a friend of mine from high school who enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy in 2008. Unbeknownst to all but a few students back then, he’s gay. As DADT’s days seemed numbered, my friend and his few cautiously out classmates petitioned to form a gay-straight alliance student club.

The academy was slow to move forward until the government officially repealed its homophobic policy, and their charter was sent back numerous times for revision. The order? Remove transgender from the widely used LGBT catch-all acronym. The cadets were forced to change that last letter from a T to a Q — for “questioning.” Service members who identify as transgender and want to participate as a distinct sect of the support group essentially have to pretend that they just aren’t sure what to call themselves yet.

While the military is making slow and incomplete progress on LGBT — er, Q — issues, America’s problems with institutionalized homophobia don’t stop — or start — there. Homophobia takes root, like all forms of prejudice, in the impressionable minds of children.

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last organizations of its kind to systematically exclude homosexuals from participating as members or troop leaders. Because it’s a private organization, excluding gays is technically their prerogative. Unlike the military, they’re not using our tax dollars to fund their discriminatory agenda, so why should we care?

We should care because the Boy Scouts of America instructed 2,723,869 of our nation’s youth in 2011 to make “ethical and moral choices” tainted by homophobic intolerance. This national organization wields influence on a scale comparable to that of many public institutions.

The Boy Scout oath makes kids promise to keep themselves “morally straight,” yet the organization seems more concerned about keeping everyone sexually straight. The Boy Scouts send a dangerous message to youth: It’s not OK to be gay, and if you are you should pretend that you’re not.

Engraving this message in the minds of young scouts perpetuates bullying. According to the National Youth Association, nine out of 10 LGBT students experience bullying at school. One-third of them have attempted suicide.

If we practiced tolerance in our national institutions and organizations, our nation could make headway toward ending homophobic bullying. According to a statement released this summer, the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy “reflects the beliefs and perspectives” of its members. Overall, the group asserts, openly gay scouts and leaders “would be a distraction to the mission.”

A distraction from what? Given the recent reports on the Scouts’ longtime practice of engaging in elaborate cover-ups when its leaders allegedly molested young boys, the integrity of their purported “mission” is already compromised.

As the Los Angeles Times revealed, the Boy Scouts quietly nudged men it believed were sexually abusing children to resign for many decades. It would internally probe the charges without, in most cases, reporting these offenses to authorities. As a result, suspected offenders wound up slipping back into the program in other areas.

For my friend’s club, transgender inclusion is the next battle. For young people like me, it’s about awakening the older generations to the irrationality of their prejudice.

By the time I have children, these civil rights abuses will likely be resolved. If they persist, I won’t enroll my child in the Boy Scouts.

Hillary Gibson is an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. 

February 09, 2016
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail