Morally “Straight”

I’ve been following the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy . . . and then their almost-change-in-policy . . . and then their non-decision.  The BSA suggested today that, “due to the complexity of the issue,” they have decided to postpone the decision to uphold or overturn the anti-gay policy they just reaffirmed last summer.  (Here’s where wordpress needs an eyeroll emoticon . . .)

Perhaps I’m slow, but I’ve just learned today that there are people who are arguing that the ban should remain in place so that the boy scouts and their leaders can continue upholding the Scout Promise, which says:

On my honor,
I will do my best
To do my duty
to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake and
morally straight.

 . . . and they think that “morally straight” means “heterosexual.” 

So tonight I got out Brent’s dusty copy of the Oxford English Dictionary that he purchased–on a careless, youthful whim after selling his graphing calculator when he changed his undergraduate major from physics to English)–and looked it up.

And lo, the heavens opened.  The OED hath spoken:

“Straight” was first used to mean “heterosexual” in 1941–several decades after the Boy Scouts began using it in their oath in 1908.


So when the boy scouts promise to be “morally straight,” they are not promising to be heterosexual . . .