The Boy Scouts of America will soon undergo a momentous change: The organization will begin to allow gay adults to serve as troop leaders. This follows a sea change of public opinion, and several years of declining Boys Scouts membership. Nothing on paper has been been implemented yet, but the change is expected to be officially announced soon.
However, there is a catch: Troops backed by religious institutions will be able to deny troop leaders on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Boys Scouts are conscious that many members come from within religious folds, and feel those world views must be honored, respected and given a place at the table.
Here’s some context on how long it’s taken the organization to begin embracing gay participants: The Boy Scouts of America were founded in 1910. Gay troop members have been allowed within the organization only since 2013 (a mere two years ago!).
It’ll be interesting to me to see whether we’ll see an upsurge in gay leaders (either statistically or self-reported), and how long it will take to become noticeable. I’m also curious about how this will effect the Boy Scouts’ overall membership, since the organization will be seen as a (somewhat) more inclusive space. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if they began rebranding as such.)