On May 1, the Boy Scouts of America took the “boy” out of the Boy Scouts of America, renaming itself “Scouts BSA.” Though the Supreme Court in 2000 had upheld longstanding policies restricting membership to boys, the ban on gay scouts was lifted in 2013 and a ban on gay scoutmasters was eliminated in 2015. Last year, the Scouts agreed to admit biological females who identify as boys. Now the organization has lifted all membership restrictions, including the requirement that Boy Scouts be boys.
It isn’t clear what problem this solves. Girls already have an organization—the Girl Scouts—that embodies many of the values promoted by the Boy Scouts. In fact, some feminist critics of Scouts BSA’s move see it as a nefarious attempt to poach girls due to flagging membership—Boy Scout numbers have plummeted from 4 million in 1990 to 2.1 million today. But if the Girl Scouts become collateral casualties here, don’t expect regret from radical activists pushing for “inclusion.” The radicals’ fervent belief that differences between the sexes are socially constructed means that any group or organization that maintains those differences must be transformed. With the Court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of the Scouts’ right to exclusionary membership making lawsuits fruitless, activists decided on public relations warfare, pressure on corporate backers, and accusations of bigotry or sexism. These efforts have proved remarkably effective.
Losing members while trying to address the complaints of non-members, the clumsily renamed Scouts BSA will shed another huge chunk of its membership when the Church of Latter Day Saints ends its century-long affiliation with the organization in 2020. About 425,000 Mormons will leave the Boy Scouts, representing about 20 percent of the group’s membership. Carefully worded new policies allow individual troops and regional organizations some leeway in establishing co-ed or sex-segregated groups, but the Mormons apparently disagree with the tacit acknowledgement that the traditional BSA’s focus on making boys into better, more responsible men was somehow unfair to girls. The LDS is forming a new organization for boys and young men, oriented around the Gospels and Christian ideals. Nationally, 73 percent of Scout units are sponsored by churches; presumably, they will all be brought into line or else be forced to leave due to their supposed intolerance.
We don’t know how many girls have wanted to be Boy Scouts over the last century, just as we don’t know how many (if any) “openly homosexual” 11-year-olds were ever excluded from the organization. But a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach for young children is unacceptable to the radicals marching their way through venerable American institutions. Only one point of view qualifies as “inclusion,” even if marching in gay pride parades and distributing condoms to children (which the BSA now intends to do) excludes others who refuse to promote behavior that they oppose. The Mormons and every other Christian group attacked for intolerance of homosexuality have been clear about the distinction between sin and sinner, but the radicals don’t offer such mercy.
Given history, biology, and the current #MeToo climate of heightened sensitivity to boundaries and sex-tinged interactions, is it credible to believe that bringing girls into an all-male organization will not give rise to the same problems plaguing the rest of society? The Boy Scouts’ original mission was valuable and successful. But the activists had to destroy the Boy Scouts in order to save them. And make no mistake: “destroy” will be the outcome here, however long it takes.