The Boy Scouts of America have been taught for more than a century to “Be Prepared.” But the Scouts have never been prepared for this. Facing a long, steady decline in membership, since the men in charge opened the ranks to a variety of LGBTQ applicants, the organization is doubling down on what they did wrong. They’re taking the Boy out of Boy Scouts.
Having previously announced it would begin admitting girls next year, the organization will as of next February, in the name of something called “gender-neutral inclusivity,” be called just Scouts. At its peak five decades ago, the Boy Scouts, founded in 1910, boasted a membership of 4 million boys ages 11 to 17. The membership stands now at 2.3 million, down from 2.6 million five years ago.
That membership decline, coming despite changes wrought in pursuit of being more “inclusive,” is a blunt repudiation of those changes and the assurances that the radical changes would stem the drop-off and perhaps reverse it. The decline likely would have been even steeper had many sponsoring churches, notably Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and Mormon congregations, not continued to bar committed homosexuals as troop leaders. Many of those Scout troops would have disbanded rather than compromise fundamental religious beliefs.
Ignoring pleas of parents and polls demonstrating wide public opposition to the change, the Scouts discontinued their long-standing prohibition of openly homosexual Scoutmasters. The organization further embraced gender dysphoria, banishing the word “Boy” and became the gender-neutral “Scouts BSA.” It’s not clear what the B in BSA now stands for. “Befuddled,” perhaps, or “belittled.” If that were not enough to confuse a saint, the troops, as individual groups are called, remain divided along gender lines, at least for now. The gender-reassignment surgery is now all but complete, with the change in name the final step in a transition from Boy Scouts to whatever the national organization now thinks itself to be.
To no one’s surprise, the Girl Scouts of the USA aren’t at all happy about the poaching. “Girl Scouts is the premier leadership-development organization for girls,” Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts CEO, says. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills, explore the outdoors, participate in community projects, and grow into happy, successfully, civically engaged [women].” The girls will continue to be girls. The boys can take some consolation in that.