The famously anti-gay Boy Scouts of America organization has been ordered to release its fiercely protected "perversion files," which contain information about thousands of instances where trusted BSA adult leaders victimized children involved in scouting. The files, which cover incidents that occurred between the mid-1960's and mid-1980's, show that while the organization outwardly strove to promote hetero God-fearing he-men, behind closed doors, the journey from boyhood to manhood involved a lot more inappropriate touching than it should have.
Attorneys representing a man who was abused by a Scout leader as a boy are behind the files' release, and are working to compel the Scouts to release currently-sealed files concerning events that happened after 1985.
Former Scouts who were the victims of abuse claim that the Boy Scouts, like other famously homophobic, male-dominated organizations, has quite the illustrious history of caring more for the public reputation of leaders who abuse boys than for the health and safety of the boys themselves. They say that the files' release will show the BSA has a long history of covering up abuse and quietly shielding leaders from public scrutiny, a la the Catholic Church or the Penn State football program. Attorneys say that the files could reveal the identities of hundreds of unchecked child abusers who may have gone on to harm other kids.
Unsurprisingly, the Boy Scouts of America organization isn't pleased with this turn of events, and spokespeople have remarked that they're concerned with protecting the victims, even though all victims' names are being redacted from the files. They also claim that most of the "perversion files" contain publicly available information, and that the organization takes allegations of sexual abuse very seriously, a claim that's probably not very comforting to the former Boy Scouts who say they were abused by one particularly prolific sex offender/Boy Scout leader in the 80's.
The Boy Scouts were in the news earlier this year for doubling down on their anti-gay membership policy after a two year investigation. The policy, which was drafted in the early 2000's but scrubbed from the organization's website in 2004, reads,
Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting's values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."
What is contained in the perversion files remains to be seen, but this raises a more important question: Can homophobes be trusted around children?