After reviewing this BSA Membership Standards Review Information on Thursday, May 23, approximately 1400 voting members representing 265 local councils will vote on a resolution that, in short, removes the stipulation that boys can be excluded from membership in the BSA based on sexual orientation alone.
The BSA has prepared a Voting Member Information Packet (PDF file) that describes the voting process and includes the findings of the membership standards review.
In addition National President Wayne Perry, National Executive Committee Member Nathan Rosenberg, and Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock hosted an in-depth discussion of the BSA’s Membership Standards Resolution on April 29, 2013. As we are all aware this membership standards review is a historic effort on the part the BSA and the thousands of volunteer hours and staff time that went into the process deserve our thanks.
It’s a long presentation, but worth your time. Listen to a narrative of what happened at the meeting assembled to draft the current resolution from Lyle Knight National Executive Committee V.P. for human resources at [40:30], “…whatever your personal opinion is someone at that table shared your opinion”.
If you’ll listen to the live-cast you’ll soon understand that we are not going to be the same organization after this historic vote. We’ll be choosing one of two paths. In my opinion the most important considerations of the proposed policy change is reflected in this analysis:
If the current proposal is approved it is projected we will experience an initial decline in membership (around 15% of youth and 15% adult volunteers), significant financial loss, and possibly lose a significant number of chartered partners.
This is a sobering reality, but the projections if the resolution is not approved are even more dire.
We have lost nearly thirty percent of our membership over the past dozen years. No change to our membership policy means, at best, a continued loss of membership and could likely accelerate that rate of loss, a continued erosion of financial support, and (I think) an accelerated marginalization of the B.S.A..
I doubt that the change in membership policy will immediately open the floodgates and result in a significant increase in membership, perhaps our rate of loss will slow, perhaps we’ll see that loss level out, perhaps we’ll see a modest increase.
I do agree that no change almost guarantees that, five years from today, the B.S.A. will be a significantly smaller and will be deemed irrelevant by the vast majority of American families.
I join the members of our National Executive Board in calling for both support for the resolution and a spirit of cooperation. No matter what happens this Thursday we are going to see some of our valuable adult volunteers and chartering organizations decide that they can no longer identify themselves with the B.S.A. As unfortunate as this is I can understand the depth of emotion involved in such a decision.
Over and over again our National Leadership has emphasized that their actions are in response to a single question “What is the best course of action for our Scouts?” I believe that they are earnestly trying to provide the best answer they can.
I believe that’s the question for all of us “how do we best serve our Scouts?’. I’ve endeavored to answer this question to the best of my ability, as does any responsible volunteer. On this particular issue we will reach different conclusions, but we ought to be able to find a way forward that best serves all of our Scouts.
Discussing any hotly debated issue in the comment stream below almost always leads to a predictable and circular set of arguments. You are welcome to comment on this post but I will not post any comment replying to another reader’s comment, pro or con. Remember what you write is not contextualized by a facial expression or tone of voice.
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