(305) 724-3903

Call For A Free Consultation

Boy Scouts Man-Up, Drop Ban on Gays

Boy Scouts Man-Up, Drop Ban on Gays

Boy Scouts Man-Up, Drop Ban on Gays

News broke yesterday that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) plans to change its longstanding policy of excluding gay leaders and scouts.  As a five-year adult leader of a Cub Scout den that includes my son, I was pleased to hear this news – it hit me on several levels.

The issue reached a flashpoint last summer when a clever Eagle Scout named Zach Wahls started a petition on Change.org, asking the BSA to change its policy.  The son of lesbian parents, Wahls believed (correctly in my opinion) the policy was not only exclusionary but also discriminatory.  Many adult leaders like me had no idea the policy even existed, but a volunteer scout leader friend of mine resigned his post and pulled his son from Scouts.

The national issue had hit home, and the more I thought about the policy, the more I realized it had to be changed.  While I chose to keep my son in Cub Scouts, I made a personal pledge to try to help change the policy from the inside.  Though I could have done much more, I did write to BSA board members at AT&T and Ernst & Young and discussed the issue with a local BSA official.  I also chose to withhold any donations to BSA aside from my son’s required dues.  And I signed Wahls’ petition.

As I public relations professional, I was surprised that it took BSA this long to make the change.  Even though it is a private organization, it’s truly a public “institution.”  We feel like scouting belongs to all of us, not the national organization or its board.  The policy excluding gays is antithetical to scouting ideals, and I have always believed it was an untenable position.  Back to the clever Eagle Scout: Not only did he start a petition to fight the policy, but he also went after some of BSA’s largest donors, including Intel and UPS.  Late last year, both corporations dropped their support of BSA and pulled their funding – a nearly million dollar hit according to MotherJones.com.  While the policy was wrong and public backlash was beginning to gain traction, the move to go after funding sources (follow the money) was likely the smartest and most effective tactic employed by Wahls.  A non-profit organization can weather a PR storm and endure op-ed page badgering, but losing major donors hit them where it counts.

Amazingly, my friend who pulled his son from scouting due to this issue has already inquired about re-joining.  Intelligent, sensible positions can drive speedy results.

The other winners, aside from Wahls and Change.org, are the BSA board members who knew the policy was wrong but navigated through the negative publicity and made meaningful change happen.  They did their best – and ultimately made every scout proud.

Do you agree with BSA’s new position?  Let me know what you think.



Author: John P. David

Share This Article:


Recent Blog