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The Boy Scouts Legitimate Concerns

February 22, 2013

  Those pushing for the acceptance of openly gay leaders and scouts into the Boy Scouts argue that concern about an increase in sex abuse is unwarranted, because gays are less likely to be pedophiles. The problem with this reasoning is that the concern is not about pedophiles, defined as men whose sexual interest is confined to pre-pubescent children, but the sexual abuse of adolescent boys. The two studies frequently referenced to support the claim at gays don’t molest children are not relevant to the question.      

In a 1978 study, Nicholas Groth and Jean Birnbaum, surveyed a sample of 175 males convicted of sexual assault against children and concluded that “homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia may be mutually exclusive.”[1] None of the convicted offenders against children self-identified to the researchers as gay. However, a 1988 study of child molesters by Erickson and associates produced strikingly different results. In this study, “86% of the offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”[2] The difference between the Groth study and the Erickson study may be a change in public attitudes between 1978 and 1988, making it easier for offenders to admit their same-sex preferences.

A 1994 study by Carole Jenny and associates reviewed the medical records of children evaluated for childhood sexual abuse at a child abuse clinic and the emergency room of a children’s hospital. The mean age of the victims 6.1 years; 206 were female, 42 male. Two of the offenders were assumed to be homosexual.[3] This sample reflects what could be anticipated from a sample of children, whose abuse was discovered relatively soon after the event and who were taken for evaluation: the victims would be predominantly young girls. It is not relevant to the problem of abuse of adolescent boys, since very few abused adolescent boy tell anyone what happened for years. For example, the study conducted after the priest scandal found that the average delay in reporting abuse was 30 years.[4]

Boy victims are less likely to report abuse immediately and therefore aren’t taken to emergency rooms and would never end up in the Jenny study. If they never tell anyone about the abuse, the offenders would not be convicted and jailed, and therefore not end up in the Groth study. In addition, in the past, when offenses against children were committed by those in authority – clergy, teachers, etc… — and were reported to adults, the crimes were often covered up. The excuse was given that a trial would be traumatic for the victim, but often the real reason was to protect the institution.

A 1985 study, Robert Johnson and Diane Shrier surveyed the 40 adolescent males attending a health clinic, who during the intake interview reported sexual victimization. Although half of those treated at the clinic were under 15 years of age, no boy under 15 reported sexual abuse; this in spite of the fact that of the 40 who admitted being abused, 30 said the incident occurred before age 9. Only 6 of the 40 had ever told anyone before being asked the clinic. It is also interesting to note that of the 40 reporting sexual abuse, 57.5% said they were currently either homosexual or bisexual. Did the abuse cause confusion about sexual identity? Were boys who already had gender identity problems more likely to be targeted by molesters? Were heterosexual boys even less likely to admit abuse?

A child must be 11 years old to become a scout – passing out of childhood and into adolescence. The question is: Are boys 11-16 at risk from men with same-sex attraction (SSA)?

Before the priest scandal in the Catholic Church was uncovered, there was a concerted effort to normalize sex between adolescent boys and adult men. Larry Kramer, gay author and activist, is only one of many gay men who have written about the positive aspects of adolescent/adult gay sex:


In those instances where children do have sex with their homosexual elders, be they teachers or anyone else, I submit that often, very often, the child desires the activity, and perhaps even solicits it, either because of a natural curiosity that will or will not develop along these lines, or because he or she is homosexual and innately knows it. This is far from “recruitment.” Obviously, there are instances in which the child is unwilling, and is a victim of sexual abuse, homo- or heterosexual. But, as with straight children anxious for the experience with someone of the opposite sex, these are kids who seek solicit, and consent willingly to sex with someone of the same sex. And unlike girls or women forced into rape and traumatized, most gay men have warm memories of their earliest and early sexual encounters; when we share these stories with each other, they are invariably positive ones. [5]

In line with this thinking, a study by Rind, et al., published under the approval of the American Psychological Association claimed that negative effects adolescent/adult male sex were over estimated.[6] The blow back was intense, the study condemned by Congress, and the APA forced to apologize..

When the priest scandal broke, all promotion of the positive benefits of adolescent/adult male sex stopped. The negative effects of adolescent/adult male sex are now universally recognized, however, men who have sex with men are more likely to have been sexually abused, more likely to view the experience positively, more likely to have other problems, and men who have been themselves abused are more likely to be sexually interested in or involved with children or adolescents.

 A study of 1001 homosexual and bisexual men  found that 42.5% had been sexually abused.[7] In addition, many saw the abuse as a positive experience, even though more objective measures show that such experiences can be linked to depression, drug use, prostitution, infections with HIV or other STDs, [8] and sexual interest in children.

          The following chart shows the stark difference in interest in children between those  men who were not abused, the abused briefly. and those who sustained long term abuse.


                                                          No Abuse        Short-term        Long-term

                                                                                                Abuse              Abuse

Number of each group with

pedophile interest or behavior               633                  65                    52


Currently – sexual interest in males                     4 [0.6%]          4 [6%]            6 [11%]

            younger than 13 years old                                

Sexual contact (after age 18) with a

            male under 13                                       0                      0                     4 [8%]


Currently – sexual interest in males

            aged  13 to 15 years                             10 [1.5%]        2 [3%]             12 [23%]

Sexual contact (after age 18) with a

            male aged 13 to 15 years                      2 [0.3%]          2 [3%]             10 [19%][9]


          The risk of sexual abuse by gay men is something the Boy Scouts are wise to consider. It is not a question of equality or fairness, but prudence. The gay community prides itself on being a  ‘sexual brotherhood of promiscuity’,” [10] Those who openly identify with this community’s values – who self-identify as ‘gay’ — are not suitable role models for adolescent boys.






[1] Nicholas Groth, Jean Birnbaum, “Adult sexual orientation and attraction to underage persons, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7 (1978): 175.

[2] W.D. Erickson, et al., “Behavior patterns of child molesters,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 17(1988): 83.

[3] Carol Jenny, Thomas Roesler, Kimberly Poyer, “Are Children at Risk for Sexual abuse by Homosexuals?” Pediatrics, 94 (1994) : 41-44.

[4] Karen Terry et al., The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons, (John Jay Report II)  (Washington DC: USCCB, 2004)


[5] Larry Kramer, Reports from the Holocaust (St. Martin’s Press: NY, 1981):235


[6] Bruce Rind, et al., “A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples,” Psychological Bulletin,  124 (1998):22-53.

[7] Lynda Doll, et al., “Self-reported childhood and adolescent sexual abuse among adult homosexual and bisexual men, “  Child Abuse and Neglect,  16(1992):853-854.

[8] Ron Stall et al., “ Association of Co-Occurring psychosocial health problems and increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among urban men who have sex with men,” American Journal of Public Health,  93 (2003): 940.

[9] C. Bagley, M. Wood, L. Young, “Victim to abuser: Mental health and behavioral sequels of child sexual abuse in a community survey of young adult males,” Child Abuse & Neglect.18.(1994): 683.                       

[10] Gabriel Rotello,  Sexual Ecology,(Dutton: ;NY, 1997).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Johne273 permalink
    May 24, 2014 5:34 am

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