Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided to allow girls into their program after their membership began falling, but the numbers continued to tumble thereafter, leaving the organization facing potential bankruptcy.
BSA’s program, for 11 to 17-year-olds, planned to change the name to Scouts BSA, with members referring to themselves as “scouts,” rather than “boy” or “girl” — they were also looking to allow older girls to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
The announcement was met with a lot of criticism, especially when it came to their sister organization, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). GSUSA’s Chief Customer Lisa Margosian previously said they were “disappointed” in BSA’s handling of the situation.
When announcing the change in 2017, the BSA said in a statement the “historic decision” was made after receiving many requests from families and girls interested in the program.
Consideration of declaring bankruptcy
BSA’s move toward allowing girls and transgender boys into their programs lead to a continual downfall in membership in recent years and now the organization is facing bankruptcy, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Filing for bankruptcy comes amidst legal costs in the organization’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.
In a BSA statement released on Wednesday, Chief Scout Executive Michael B. Surbaugh said they are working to “explore all options available to ensure that the local and national programming of the Boy Scout of America continues uninterrupted.”
After their decision to open the doors in their program to other genders and change the name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — which was one of the organization’s largest sponsors — cut their ties to the BSA after a relationship of over 100 years.
In November, the GSUSA filed a trademark lawsuit against BSA for dropping the word “boy” from their flagship program, claiming it caused confusion among the public and creating complications as “parents interested in signing up for Girl Scouts programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA,” NBC News reported.
The organization has hired Sidley Austin LLP law firm as they look to possibly file for chapter 11 bankruptcy, WSJ reported.
The BSA’s future depends partly on the “outcome of sex-abuse-related litigation and future damages awarded,” according to WSJ.
Surbaugh said in the statement that “at no time in our history have we knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth” and that they act quickly to address those issues related to abuse allegations.
According to WSJ, BSA leaders commented saying the latest lawsuit could cause BSA “to pay damages out of its own funds to the extent the claims are not covered by insurance or if the insurance carriers are unable or unwilling to honor the claims.”
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The hefty costs due to sexual abuse allegations and the organization’s downfall in membership could lead the 108-year-old nonprofit to declare bankruptcy.