In the fall of 2012, months before the Boy Scouts of America announced it would consider overturning its decades-old ban on gay Scouts and scout leaders, the group sent a survey to Boy Scouts, parents, and scout leaders. The survey did not include a question about the ban, but it did ask respondents to explain what impacted their decision to recommend the Boy Scouts to their friends and families. Despite the open-ended nature of the question, around 5,500 (about eight percent) of the 68,441 respondents volunteered that the gay ban negatively affected their "customer loyalty" to the Boy Scouts. Only a tiny fraction of the respondents—a few hundred—expressed explicit support for the gay ban. Now a fight over how to interpret those results is brewing between the Boy Scouts and Scouts for Equality, an independent organization pushing for an end to the gay ban.
"The biggest takeaway from the survey is that there is a ton of energy in the scouting community for changing the policy," says Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian mothers, and founder of Scouts for Equality.
But Deron Smith, director of public relations for the Boy Scouts of America, tells Mother Jones that since the survey didn't include any specific questions about the ban, and only nine percent of respondents brought it up in an open-ended question about why they would or wouldn't recommend the Boy Scouts, "it is insufficient to accurately predict the beliefs of our membership as a whole."
This Deron Smith guy may only be able to argue this point for a few more weeks because there is another, much more focused survey coming soon, and I predict that it will substantiate a,d expand on the findings of the earlier survey.
What Scouts, leaders, and parents think about the ban should be clearer soon. A 2013 spring survey specifically addressing the ban was sent to about 1.1 million scouts and their families earlier this month. It includes questions like, "David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong... Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?" The results of that survey are expected April 4, just over a month before 1,400 members of the group's national council will vote on whether to end the ban.
This. much like the ban on gay marriage in this country, is essentially a done deal. The Boy Scouts have been doing their best to fight the inevitable, but I believe that once this new survey is returned that the organization will have no choice but to openly accept EVERYBODY regardless of who and how they love.
You know the thing is that the Boy Scouts already have a number of gay scouts and scout leaders, all this will do is allow them to no longer have to hide that fact from their peers.
Gee the freedom to be who you are without fear of discrimination or penalty. Does it GET any more American than that?