Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Equality


The Boy Scouts of America were scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to allow local councils and troops to decide for themselves whether to allow gay teens to openly participate in scouting, but the national board decided to delay that decision until May.

“In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public,” said the BSA’s national spokesman, Deron Smith. “It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.”

Smith said the executive board “concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.” The board will prepare a resolution to be voted on by the 1,400 voting members of the national council at a meeting in Grapevine, Texas, he said.

They will take it up again at their annual meeting on May 23-24. I’m not at all surprised by this given the furious lobbying by both sides since they announced last week that they were considering a change. Given that 70% of troops in the country are controlled by Churches, the bulk of them Mormon, I’m sure the backlash was strong and immediate from many of them (even though the proposed policy would allow them to continue to discriminate).

Comments

  1. Erp says

    Actually I think the Mormons only have a plurality or bare majority of the faith based units (units means packs, troops, and Venturing groups) though other conservative (at least hierarchically) religious groups (e.g., the Catholic church) would put conservatives into the majority. When it comes to numbers of members, Mormons have a far smaller proportion (Mormon units tend to be smaller than average) though still a plurality. However I suspect the LDS is far better organized than other groups in using the clout that the number of units they register gives them. I’m not sure the more liberal churches much less other groups know how to use their potential clout.

    Mormons might at least be amenable on amending the ban on gay boys (at least if the youth aren’t sexual active with another person) given that all Mormon boys in the US are expected to belong since Scouts is the church youth group for boys.

  2. jasonfailes says

    “due to the complenty of the issue…”

    We want to continue to discriminate but we’re afraid we might lose our government funding if we do.
    We’re afraid of losing the children of religious nutcases now and we’re afraid of losing the children of everybody else as society progresses.

    They should take an honest stand, I don’t really care which one, and live with the result. This tactical waffling drives me nuts.

  3. raven says

    Given that 70% of troops in the country are controlled by Churches, the bulk of them Mormon, I’m sure the backlash was strong and immediate from many of them…

    A policy that lets individual cults discriminate might be the best for everyone. If the Mormons stopped discriminating against one group or another, especially nonMormons and women, then they wouldn’t be Mormons any more. It’s just typical tribalism.

    1. I seriously doubt that the Mormon church sponsored units with mandatory membership of kids has any nonMormon members.

    2. Who in the hell of the nonMormons would even want to belong to a Mormon troop? And I’m sure having pagan and gentile scouts (their words for outsiders) would bother them no end.

    Mormons do not mix with or play well with heathens, pagans, gentiles and normal people. It’s a typical abusive mind control cult, so it is not the least unexpected.

  4. raven says

    Given that 70% of troops in the country are controlled by Churches, the bulk of them Mormon, I’m sure the backlash was strong and immediate from many of them…

    Sort of self fulfilling prophecy here.

    A huge number of potential sponsors might not want to be sponsors for an organization that teaches hatred towards gays and atheists and thinks discrimination is a sacred duty. This isn’t a problem for the fundie churches oddly enough, those institutions that claim to be moral teachers.

    And I’m not guessing here. The public schools aren’t allowed by law to offer them space on preferential or reduced cost terms because of this.

    And the BSA has managed to reduce its membership. It’s down over the last decade by 10 or 20%.

  5. Trebuchet says

    The BSA is in a real bind. They’ve failed to do the right thing for decades. Now the issue is more politicized than ever and anything they do is going to cost them big time.

    That’s in the short run, of course. In the long run, changing policy as soon as possible can only help the organisation, as attitudes, particularly among younger Americans, continue to change.

  6. Johnny Au Gratin says

    I seriously doubt that the Mormon church sponsored units with mandatory membership of kids has any nonMormon members.

    Well, if they did they could always posthumously baptize them.

  7. naturalcynic says

    Mormons might at least be amenable on amending the ban on gay boys …

    Mormons are amenable to just about anything the president and prophet decides that it is in the political interest of the church gets a revelation on.

  8. dexitroboper says

    “concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.”

    I thought Scouts were supposed to “be prepared”!

    (shamelessly stolen from someone on Twitter)

  9. Erp says

    I’ve done some stat hunting and calculating. In particular the 2008 and 2011 info on chartering organization units. http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/operating_orgs.aspx (and use of the wayback machine).

    They are losing membership at a rapid rate but they are losing non-faith based chartered units at an even faster rate. To begin with the 2008 page states they have about 120,000 units, the 2011 page states over a 100,000 units. That is a huge drop.

    They also give figures for the top faith based and non-faith based chartering groups. PTA/PTO groups dropped 20% in that timeframe (though much of this might have to do with insurance issues, the national PTA/PTO recommends against chartering for that reason). Other Parent Teacher groups dropped by 22.5% and private schools by 7%. Groups of citizens chartering dropped by 26.5% (from 4688 units to 3445). Not a single non-faith based group increased or held steady (even the American Legion and VFW chartered groups dropped though by about %5).

    However the big single players are the faith based groups. The largest group, LDS, increased by 1.98% in units (to 37,882) and 4.69% by membership Churches generally had decreases in both membership and units. The summation of the faith based groups seems to show a slight decrease in number of units and a slight increase in number of members. And in 2011 the LDS units made up about 49% of the faith based units.

  10. alwayscurious says

    The sticking point I think is in the morality money question. If it’s publicly acknowledged that some percentage of all the money National collects might end up supporting a troop with gay members, what would the donors do? How would the donors sleep at night? Could these actions be reconciled with “morally straight”? (Depends on what the money says, I think)

  11. martinc says

    All these years I’ve been pointing out how American institutions, truisms and assumptions are known to the rest of the world due to the efforts of Hollywood, and now out of the blue I find out that half the boy scout units in America are run by Mormons, and moreover that this information is apparently widespread in America.

    How come the Brady Bunch never mentioned this?

  12. grumpyoldfart says

    My prediction:
    They’ll spend the next few months composing a resolution that is open to broad interpretation. In May the reps will vote yes to gays (“see, we’re not prejudiced”) and then rely on individual troop leaders to find the loopholes and use them against the gays.

  13. eric says

    I”m okay with it. The conclusion should be obvious, but making the decision at the next big meeting, when everyone gets a say, is ‘good methodology.’ Such a decision will stand up better and be stronger because of the way they make it.

    Many many decades of discrimination, and the choice is eliminate it now and give the objectors ammo for the rest of history, or eliminate it in 10 weeks and give them nothing. Do it in 10 weeks.

  14. Adela Doiron says

    Well it’s not like they can keep using the excuse of protecting the children from sexual abuse for keeping gays out.

  15. says

    “They are losing membership at a rapid rate but they are losing non-faith based chartered units at an even faster rate. To begin with the 2008 page states they have about 120,000 units, the 2011 page states over a 100,000 units. That is a huge drop.”

    It can easily be explained if Mittunswillard held a double secret probation seat on the national council. It’s just consolidation and job creation.

    “However the big single players are the faith based groups. The largest group, LDS, increased by 1.98% in units (to 37,882) and 4.69% by membership Churches generally had decreases in both membership and units.”

    Well, with the U.S. military slowing down and shedding cannon fodder the troops for the NEW Crusade gotta come from somewhere!

    “How come the Brady Bunch never mentioned this?”

    Um, Martinc, they’re mormons, too! {;>)

    I’m thinking BSA will be more betterer when it’s the Boy Scouts of Atheism.

  16. Ichthyic says

    I can’t help but think they are hoping the controversy will blow over by May, allowing them to quietly keep discriminating.

    ^^this.

    this is not the first time there has been “discussion” about changing membership policy.

    In 2 months, they will come out and say that the vast majority of their membership is not in favor of changing policy at this time.

    mark my words.

  17. PatrickG says

    Do it in 10 weeks.

    As someone highly critical of the waffling “leadership” of the national organization, I agree completely with this. Whatever they do, it should be done formally.

    Own the decision, own the results. Whatever the national council decides, at least there won’t be ambiguity. Unless, of course, they weasel out, per grumpyoldfart’s comment.

  18. PatrickG says

    In 2 months, they will come out and say that the vast majority of their membership is not in favor of changing policy at this time.

    At which point they’ll continue losing money corporate sponsors. If they go that route, couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.

  19. Erp says

    @martinc

    half the faith based units are LDS but they make up about 35% of all units, faith and non-faith, and about 15.5% of all members. Unfortunately much of the clout at council level is by number of units not number of members.

    It is somewhat amazing how different the organizational structure of the BSA is from the GSUSA.

  20. says

    BSA made a decision several years ago to move troops from city, school, and pto charters to faith based chartering organization. The decline in city, school and pto charters has been careful and deliberate. The ideals and standards of BSA are more consistent with faith based groups.

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