The Boy Scouts is committed to dialogue on this topic within the Scouting family at the local and national levels. To continue and expand this important discussion, the officers authorized its committees, representative of Scouting’s members, to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns.
May 23, 2013
On May 23, 1,232 voting members of the Boy Scouts of American voted on a resolution that maintains its current membership policy for all adult leaders and states that youth may not be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. The resolution passed with 757 votes, a 61% majority.
A special thanks to all who participated in this effort. Through the process, the BSA conducted the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history, gathering perspectives from inside and outside of the Scouting family. This policy remains among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today. To help move the organization forward and to refocus our attention to our mission the BSA will approach this issue in both the short term and long term.
The BSA will continue to post information on the implementation of the new policy on Scouting.org.
April 19 Status
Since the National Executive Board meeting on Feb. 6, Executive Committee members have provided input and direction to a comprehensive policy review process. Several officers and Board members have assisted in key stakeholder research and evaluation phases. On April 12, the full Executive Committee received statistical data sets and research findings from the listening phase of the Membership Standards Study Initiative. The content included Voice of the Scout results from 204,554 BSA members and leaders, a national survey of 800 parents of boys, a national survey of 1,021 teens (16 to 18), and input statements and recommendations from 270 local councils. We also reached out to over 100 religious and community organizations and over 50,000 BSA alumni and donors.
After individual study and analysis, on April 17, the Executive Committee traveled to Dallas to participate in a daylong session to share insights, speak to outside experts, hear detailed reports, ask questions, and discuss the findings and their implications.
Overall key findings that the Executive Committee considered to be critical to the development of a resolution:
- Attitudes and opinions among Americans related to gay and lesbian relationships have changed rapidly over the past three years.
- While a majority of adults in the Scouting community support the BSA’s current policy of excluding open and avowed homosexuals, younger parents and teens tend to oppose the policy.
- Views among parents under the age of 50 have changed significantly in the past three years, with a majority now opposing the BSA’s current policy.
- Parents in three of four BSA regions oppose the current membership policy.
- Of six scenarios presented in surveys to parents, teens, and adults in the Scouting community, the one scenario with which overwhelming majorities of parents, teens, and adults in the Scouting community strongly agree is that it would be unacceptable to deny an openly gay Scout an Eagle Scout Award solely because of his sexual orientation.
- Parents, teens, and adults in the Scouting community do not favor a local chartered organization option.
- While adults in the Scouting community strongly support the current membership policy, they are less likely to agree with removing a Scout from the program solely on the basis of sexual orientation as opposed to behavior.
April 11 Status
The BSA has completed the “listening” phase of its membership standards review process. During this phase, the BSA:
- Hosted informative town hall–style meetings at more than 250 local councils across the nation (The Boy Scouts of America has 280 local councils.)
- Discussed the issue with nonprofit and youth-serving organizations’ executive leaders
- Spoke with private and corporate donors
- Engaged experts in the fields of youth protection and safety
- Opened an internal dialogue through:
- The 2013 Spring Voice of the Scout Survey. The BSA interacted with chartered organization representatives, leaders, parents, and members of alumni organizations. This survey included specific questions about the membership standards policy. The BSA sent the survey to 1.1 million individuals and received approximately 205,000 completed surveys.
- A national survey of parents conducted by Northstar Research. This survey was conducted among 800 parents who had a son under the age of 18 living in their home. Telephone surveys were conducted using random digit dialing to ensure that those with unlisted numbers and cellphones were included.
- A Harris Interactive Survey of the nation’s youth. This survey was conducted online from March 18 to March 22, 2013. The survey was conducted among 1,021 16- to 18-year-olds; 803 were from the general population of Harris Interactive Online (HPOL) panelists, and 218 were from a list provided by the Boy Scouts of America containing randomly selected Boy Scouts and Venturers from its database of current members.
This information will help the officers’ work on a resolution regarding membership standards. This resolution and information will be shared with the voting members of the National Council later this month and will begin the education phase of the project, which will lead to the deciding phase, culminating with the voting members of the National Council taking action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May.
March 18 Status
The BSA is engaging representatives of Scouting’s membership and listening to their perspectives and concerns. Twice a year, the BSA distributes a Net Promoter Score survey called the Voice of the Scout. This is a regularly scheduled survey that goes to all leaders, parents, and youth over 14 years of age.
Beginning March 8, the BSA used this survey to ask questions about the membership standards policy. The BSA distributed approximately 1.1 million surveys to registered volunteers and Scouts’ parents for whom it has email addresses and to approximately 325,000 alumni. Note: Scouts were not sent these questions through the Voice of the Scout survey. The BSA is getting the opinion of youth on this issue through a random sample survey conducted by an outside research company.
March 1 Status
The BSA is now in the ‘listening’ phase of the process. This phase will end on April 4. During this phase, the committees will review a number of issues and how they will impact the BSA, including youth, chartered organizations, parents, and financial, fundraising, and legal concerns. The goals of the committee’s work will be to:
- Provide a channel where every voice can be heard
- Receive feedback from the field
- Educate Scouting’s members
- Review core values
- Identify members’ concerns
The committee’s recommendations will inform the officers’ work on a resolution regarding membership standards. The voting members of the National Council will take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.