The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is over 100 years old. Literally, millions and millions of young boys have participated in the Scouts. The last year for which figures are available is 2011. In 2011, more than 2.7 million boys and over 1 million adults were in the Scouts. That's an impressive number; however, it is down more than 20% since 1999. There are a lot of reasons that could account for the steep decline in membership over the last decade. It is logical to assume that the amount of negative publicity that the BSA has received as a result of their policy that bans openly homosexual members and volunteers has contributed to the decline in membership.
The executive board of the BSA is meeting this week to discuss eliminating the national policy that prohibits homosexual members and allowing local organizations to create their own policy. So, while there might not be a national policy, there could be numerous local policies that prohibit homosexual members. I find all of this to be a little confusing. It leaves open the very real possibility that scouts who are in a unit that is affiliated with a religious organization could still be faced with a 'no homosexual member policy'. "The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue," spokesman Deron Smith said in an email to Reuters. The Mormon Church is the largest single sponsor of scouting units. Approximately 13% of all scouts are affiliated with units sponsored by the Mormon Church. The Mormon Church supports the ban on gay members and has said that it would withdraw from the BSA if they were ever asked to accept homosexual members. It’s worth noting that in 2008, the Mormon Church spent money fighting for the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which declared that only marriage between a man and woman is valid.
The BSA’s policy on gay members has not only cost them members, it has cost them a great deal of money. Numerous organizations have ceased making contributions because of their discriminatory practices. I am not sure if the BSA has evolved or if they are simply trying to stop the loss of revenues and members. Frankly, I do not care why they are now considering an end to this policy, I am just glad that one more discriminatory policy is ending. It is past time for organizations such as the BSA to end their discriminatory practices. A policy that is equally loathsome is their ban on atheist members. Now, perhaps that policy can be reviewed.