I am speaking as an interested outsider to scouting, so I am speaking out of ignorance and about to make a fool of myself.
I have read the other comments and agreed and disagree with parts all of them. When my nephew got interested in scouting I did a great deal of research on the organization. Obviously I did not look on things as a scouter or even an ex-boy scout – having never been one. I look at it from an organizational level, and as someone deeply concerned about the way boys are treated in our society.
First the treatment of boys: In my impression boys today are all treated like criminals who have not yet been caught. An episode of “The Simpsons” titled “Girls Just Want to Have Sums” satirized this attitude. When the elementary schools is split between boys and girls. The girl’s side is all unicorns and flowers, and the boy’s side looks like “Mad Max”:
Oddly, Lisa when she pretends to be a boy uses the last name “Boyman”, and boy man was a term used to describe Baden-Powell in some of the literature I read about scouting.
I think that the problem that most people have with the Boy Scouts is not so much the issues of gay scouts, but with boy scouts. I noticed that in all the discussion on BSA’s gay issues, was that what was best for the boys themselves was seldom if ever discussed.
I think the issues is not opposition to boy scouts, but opposition to boys. Unfortunately, the BSA can do little if anything on this issue.
Organizationally: BSA faces one of the greatest challenges an organization can face. To adapt with times, without losing its core mission. Doing either one is hard, but doing both is almost impossible. As an example of an organization that adapted, but loses its core, look at the store “Abercrombie & Fitch”. A&F started out selling outdoors clothing and equipment to professional outdoorsmen. The store was the outdoors goods store. It was used by Teddy Roosevelt, Admiral Peary, Charles Lindberg, and Admiral Byrd. Today it exists and is profitable, but is basically associated with anything but the outdoors:
The BSA from my research maybe making a similar decision. I recently read about the STEM Scouts. The article cited as its big selling point that the program would be co-ed and would help eliminate the gap in women’s employment in STEM fields. Boy Scouts main goal is to help girls? What about helping boys?
How the BSA can resolve this issue without either becoming extinct or changing beyond all recognition, I do not know. I would be interested in what others think. I know that a continued commitment to a strong outdoors program has been mentioned in previous discussions. How this can be done in a world of over-scheduled boys with decreasing familiarity with the outdoors I do not know.
Finally, to get back to the original issue – is boy scouts thriving. I hope so, but think it is too soon to say if the change in policy will have any effect. I think ending the controversy increases the potential that scouting will thrive, but not make that happen all by itself.