May 9, 2013; Washington Post, “On Faith”

In just ten days, the Boy Scouts will vote on their latest proposal to resolve concerns associated with  their current ban on openly gay participants. The proposal would change the rules to allow openly gay young people to be scouts, but would continue to prohibit gay adults as scout leaders. But this “compromise” would keep them seriously out of step with the populace as a whole. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll focusing on attitudes about gay rights more generally shows that the majority of the American people would support lifting the ban on gay scouts and on gay scoutmasters alike.

Specifically, 63 percent of Americans support lifting the ban on gay scouts to join, and 56 percent opposes the ban of gay adults from Boy Scout leadership by a 56 to 39 percent margin. This may indicate a significant shift in social opinions since last year, when a USA Today/Gallup poll found that only 42 percent supported the notion of gay adult scout leaders.

Two of the most marked differences in this poll on this particular set of questions were based on gender and age. Men are divided about evenly on the question of gay scout leaders, while women oppose their exclusion by nearly two to one. And 76 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds favor gay marriage, in contrast with 39 percent of seniors.—Ruth McCambridge