The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization has spent a lot of time in the lime light lately following its very public opposition to admitting openly gay volunteers into the program. Boy Scouts has openly denied or revoked membership status and leadership roles from individuals who identify as homosexual. While BSA’s national council approved a resolution to remove the restriction that denies youth admission to the program on the basis of sexual orientation in May of 2013, the ban remains unchanged and in effect for homosexual adults. The premise of this decision, BSA has stated, is that its current “policies are essential in its mission to instill in young people the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” After extensively reading article after article from BSA’s perspective, I still cannot wrap my mind around how this policy makes sense from a PR and communication standpoint. I feel as though the national nonprofit organization is losing more value and credibility by maintaining this regulation than its gaining from it.
For example, as reported by The NonProfit Times, Disney has recently announced that it will no longer support Boy Scouts of America financially or ethically as a result of the organization’s inflexibility when it comes to homosexual policies. While Disney does not directly support BSA, its EARS to You program would make small grants to eligible organizations at which Disney employees volunteered. Starting in 2015, BSA councils and troops will no longer be eligible for this program.
In a memo from Boy Scouts Central Florida Council board President Robert Utsey to leaders and parents announcing the newly severed tie with BSA, he states, “We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go,” says Utsey. Continuing, he mentions that “The National BSA Council has reached out to WDW [Walt Disney World] to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”
In my opinion (while it might be amateur), I can not rationalize BSA’s decision to uphold its policy against adult homosexual volunteers after taking this kind of blow from one of their biggest supporters. I understand that an organization has a right to advocate certain values, but the fact that BSA has already removed its ban on the admission of homosexual youth males seems to totally invalidate its decision to maintain its prohibition of gay adult males. The way I see it, why not allow all sectors of the male homosexual community to join Boy Scouts of America, if its already allowing some? This just doesn’t make sense to me, from both a business and ethical perspective. It seems more an issue of pride and stubbornness than anything else at this point, which will ultimately hurt the organization in the end– especially as America transitions into a much more progressive, forward-thinking society.
BSA’s decision to uphold such a minute “value” at the cost of losing its most prominent donors seems nothing short of irrational to me. Its business relationship with Disney gave the organization both credibility and recognition, which has propelled the organization into what it is today. The Boy Scouts of America organization needs to take a long, hard, look at why exactly it’s so adamant about maintaining its ban on male homosexual volunteers and consider what’s really at stake: its future.