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.