The Washington Post’s She The People blog does something similar. Freelance journalist Diana Reese’s piece does a fairly balanced job of reporting on the feelings of parents of Scouts in reaction to the proposed lifting of the ban. But then there’s this:
Not every parent liked the idea of a change in policy, however. “I lost my ability to advance in scouting as a young man because of a scoutmaster who was a pedophile,” one dad wrote me in an email. “I am dead set against gays in scouting.”
One mom, who prefaced her remarks with the belief that homosexuality does not equal pedophilia, still admitted she would worry about the safety of the boys.
“Most of BSA’s constituent parents view this as a safety issue more than a moral issue,” another dad wrote in an email.
But this is not a safety issue. It’s about prejudice. When people say that they are worried about putting gay men in leadership positions because children might be harmed by pedophilia, what they are really saying is that gay men make them uncomfortable, and they believe gay men to be perverted and deviant. Happily, most Americans no longer think this way, but the media still needs to pierce the illusions of those who do. When something is wrong, we need to explicitly say so.
I don’t think it’s bad for reporters to bring up pedophilia when writing about gay men and the Boy Scouts if parents bring it up on their own as a worry. But it is important to recognize that being concerned about gay men leading children in the scouts because of prospective pedophilia is an unfounded fear. Instead of further scaring our readers, we should inform them — with facts.