A Boy Scout Exodus? Where Would Members Go?

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February 18, 2013; Source: Fox News


A new Associated Press (AP) article asks whether the Boy Scouts of America’s current struggles as to whether to lift or retain its ban on openly gay members will drive participants or potential participants to other groups. A leader from one group that is somewhat similar to the Boy Scouts told the AP that while his organization is following the Boy Scouts’ situation closely, they are not looking to benefit from “someone else’s misfortune.” Given that the Boy Scouts includes more than 2.5 million boys, however, one imagines that some organizations may be more inclined to reach out to those who are less enthusiastic about the Boy Scouts these days.

The Boy Scouts of America faces the unenviable position of making a sizable portion of their constituency unhappy no matter what they do. If they lift the ban on the inclusion of openly gay scouts, many of the religious organizations that are the largest sponsors of Boy Scout units Boy Scouts will be displeased. If they retain the ban on the inclusion of openly gay scouts, many more equality-minded members, as well as a number of corporate sponsors, will likely join those who have already jumped ship over the policy. Given this dynamic, while the Boy Scouts have come under fire for delaying a decision on this matter, one can clearly see why the organization might want to do so.

If the Boy Scouts’ decision (or non-decision) ultimately sends some members heading for the hills, where will they go? The AP points to a number of religious and secular groups that might be interested in ushering in ex-Scouts, from the Pentecostal Royal Rangers and the Roman Catholic Columbian Squires on the faith-based plank to Camp Fire and Navigators USA on the secular side.

NPQ invites readers to weigh in with thoughts about how the Boy Scouts might best handle this situation. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Mark Bertler

    As a former eagle scout I was faced with this dilemma about 10 years ago when my sons reached “scouting” age.
    Our parent group chose Camp Fire and built a hybrid organization that was formally affiliated with Camp Fire and maintained activities like the pinewood derby but excluded the discrimination against gay members and leaders.