Boy Scouts See Ranks Shrink After Policy Shift on Gays

Says other factors could contribute to the lower number of participants

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Olivier Douliery / ABACAUSA

Scouts for Equality holds a rally to call for equality and inclusion for gays in the Boy Scouts of America at the Boy Scout Memorial in Washington, May 22 2013.

The Boy Scouts of America have lost six percent of their members since changing their policy on gay participants, the group said Wednesday.

The organization voted last year to begin accepting openly gay scouts for the first time, despite the protests of many conservative members who believe homosexuality is in conflict with the Scouts’ values. Boy Scouts’ spokesman Deron Smith said other factors may have contributed to the drop in membership, the Associated Press reports.

“There are many factors that go into a family’s decision to join Scouting and it’s impossible to point to any single factor that influences our membership numbers,” Smith said. “This includes, but is not limited to, the limited amount of discretional time and parents wanting relevant programs for their kids.”

Membership has gradually shrunk over the last decade to 2.5 million youth and 1 million adults, including a four percent drop from 2011 to 2012.

The Boy Scouts changed their policy on rejecting openly gay troop members in the face of mounting national pressure. A group called Scouts for Equality held protests as the BSA’s National Council considered the issue. The change passed with about 60 percent in favor.

[AP]

15 comments
fayvagirl
fayvagirl

The only boys left in Boy Scouts will be the gays themselves and you can thank the LGBT community for that. Most people I know would never put their boys into an organization that openly accepts perversion. My boys were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts until Trail Life came along. They love Trail Life and my husband and I are confident that they will thrive in an organization that won't cave to a PC society that wants you to believe that homosexuality is "normal" behavior.

cwgmpls
cwgmpls

We should not be quick to equate falling numbers with "death" of an organization.  The fact is, all organizations are experiencing falling numbers, whether they be churches, youth clubs, civic organizations, schools, or whatever.  This is not because the organizations are bad, or because people no longer do anything.  This is because, with new communication technology, people are now able to organize group activities much easier and quicker, on their own.  People don't need big, traditional organizations they once needed to communicate and get organized into groups.  


BSA could even foster this new paradigm for organizing, by provide easy ways for any ad-hoc group of boys to form packs or troops on their own, via social media, or in their own neighborhoods.


So the future of BSA is as a smaller, more nimble club, or group of autonomous clubs, that people will join and leave at a much faster rate.  That is not a reflection on the quality of BSA, that is a simple reflection on the way people communicate and organize themselves to get things done these days.

Nolemiwi_Witawemat
Nolemiwi_Witawemat

The drop in membership is not just regarding the hot political topics that plague the organization (the anti-gay and anti-aethist topics), the program itself just doesn't adapt to the needs and interests of today's youth.  Scouting in the USA is extremely slow to change and adapt, and kids do not find it interesting or relevant.  There are huge changes coming this year to Cub Scouts (grades 1-5) and Venturing (co-ed program ages 14-21) that are controversial and may be too-little, too-late changes in response to sharp declines in membership in those programs.


While the "gay issue" has certainly driven out the most strongly opinionated on the topic, the vast majority of the program has just experienced its typical membership decline, and is using this policy change to distract everyone from the real cause of the decline.  


If the BSA wants to survive, they need to step it up and start researching what kids these days are interested in, and create a program that is flexible.  

BikeGuy
BikeGuy

The death of the Boy Scouts of America as a national organization began in 1992, when misguided leadership first put the ban against gays in place, under Mormon pressure. This decision ultimately turned BSA from a non-sectarian organization for all boys, the group that I knew and loved in my NYC youth, to a conservative Christian organization that became disproportionately Mormon and Baptist. The US gay ban was the only such ban in the civilized world. Gays were never banned from Scouting in the UK, where Scouting was founded, nor Europe, Australia, Mexico, or Canada. 


Scouting membership dropped precipitously in the past twenty years and those who remained were, unsurprisingly, more conservative and less representative of the US population. Mormons alone, who are less than 2% of the US, control over 25% of troops. As they gradually became a Christian fundamentalist organization, leadership saw that they were losing America, including corporate America. Unfortunately, they made the "Mormon compromise" – gay boys could stay but would be kicked out at 18 (how ridiculous is that?) and same-sex parents were not welcome. 


Well, surprise, the 'compromise' just infuriated everyone. Those who had left or avoided the Scouts were not coming back, and the hard rock conservatives and bigots threatened to pull their kids for more truly “Christian” organizations. The bad publicity highlighted the issue for those who were unaware, and corporate donations further declined. 


BSA’s leadership of the gay issue would be a great business school case of horrific brand management. If it were a corporation, the entire Board would resign in disgrace.


As a former Scout I lay the blame for this fiasco at the feet of the Mormons and their conservative Christian allies, who never saw that the BSA - according to its founding principles - was always meant to be an organization for all boys and all families, not just conservative Christians. As Baden Powell, Scouting British founder put it:


"Buddha has said: 'There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in Love.'  The opportunity lies before us where in place of selfishness and hostility we can enthuse good will and peace as the spirit in the coming generation. Scouting's aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity."


Openminded1
Openminded1

They were stupid for allowing men to be scout leaders who did not have children in the scouts. Common sense would dictate that a single man with no wife and kids wanting to be a boy scout leader is odd and reason to suspect. The BSA  did not care they hired and excepted predators. With out much background or observation checks.

cwgmpls
cwgmpls

BSA has had its ranks shrinking for decades, for many reasons.  6% drop in one year is about average for BSA, since at least the 90s.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@BikeGuy  The only thing you are right about is Mormons are morons and  pretty much a cult. But it is obvious you are gay and should not be anywhere near young boys.

BobWilliams
BobWilliams

@BikeGuy  

Don't worry. Those that disagree with your "enlightened" beliefs have left. Enjoy the spoils. The death of the Boy Scouts of America will be slow, however it will be ultimately blamed on the war waged on them by the LGBT community.

Nolemiwi_Witawemat
Nolemiwi_Witawemat

@Openminded1 So I guess when that boy turns 18 and wants to become a Scoutmaster, he becomes a pedophile in your eyes.  I served Scouting as an adult volunteer for 8 years before I got married.  By your logic, I was a child predator for 8 years, and then one day I said "I Do" to my wife and suddenly lost my predator status.  

Have you considered that some participants age out and want to give back to the organization that gave them so much?  Not everyone who serves in Scouting is a potential kid toucher.  Many of us just find that serving the youth of today can have a positive influence on our society in the future. 

I also find it entertaining that your username is "Openminded1," yet you certainly have a mind so closed as to why people volunteer for youth serving organizations.  I suggest you review what having an open mind is all about, and either change your position or change your username as to not mislead other readers.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@cwgmpls  Ya sure I would not have trusted my son around the likes of you when he was kid.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Nolemiwi_Witawemat @Openminded1  My post name is meant to be ironic, your suggestion is mute because you do not control what i say or do, as for misleading i think that is your intention not only with the stupid avatar name you use , but in trying to fool readers into buying your BS story about your wanting to give back. If you are or where a childless not married boy scout leader you are suspect. As a 30 year police veteran now retired I have never met a boy scout leader that had no children and was a single male that was not gay in all my investigations of child molesting. You are not fooling anyone but yourself, nice try you are what you are. Stick to kids over 18 you will stay out of jail that way.