They delayed a decision about whether or not to allow gay scout leaders and gay scouts until May. This non-decision appears to be in response to concern from the organizations’ rank and file.
While opponents of the change say that it would lead to religious parents taking their sons out of the Boy Scouts, proponents claim that allowing gay scout leaders and gay scouts would revitalize the organization.
Both groups agree that membership in the Boy Scouts of America has declined in recent years.
In my opinion, neither side of this argument is acknowledging the impact of the rise of broken families, single parents and families where both parents work, often at more than one job.
I had children who were Boy Scouts. It takes a lot of time to participate, including a large investment of time on the part of parents. I can see how fatherless families would find it difficult to participate fully, since there are quite a number of activities that involve sons and their dads.
I doubt that the Scouts’ refusal to allow gay scout leaders has anything to do with falling numbers of new Scouts. I think the falling number of Scouts is mostly a reflection of the disintegration of the family and the economy, combined.
A New York Times article discussion today’s events says in part:
IRVING, Tex. — The Boy Scouts of America, which reconfirmed last summer its policy banning openly gay people from participation, then said last week it was reconsidering the ban, said on Wednesday that it would postpone a decision once more, until May, as talk of gays in the ranks has roiled a storied organization that carries deep emotional connection and nostalgia for millions of Americans.
An end to the national ban on gays, which the United States Supreme Court said in 2000 was legal free speech by a private organization, would create a huge new moment of risk, experimentation and change people on both sides of the issue said. The proposal floated last week would allow local scouting units to decide membership rules for themselves.
The proposed change created multiple fracture lines of its own. Some supporters of the ban said they feared a wave of departures by conservative church-sponsored troops, while supporters of the change said that scouting, with fewer boys every year donning the tan uniform to work for merit badges, would be revitalized. Scout leaders who favored a complete about-face on gays — prohibiting discrimination everywhere in the organization — said the compromise position by the Executive Board would still leave scouting open to accusations of homophobia by its critics, since discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would still be allowed locally. (Read more here.)