Internal polling documents obtained exclusively by Scouts for Equality (SFE) demonstrate that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy of banning gay Scouts and scoutmasters is a key driver in the Scouts’ decades-long decline.
SFE's release of these documents comes on the heels of news that the BSA was conducting a comprehensive poll of its membership on the prospect of changing its policy. In February, the BSA said it will put the ban up to a vote of the 1,400 members of its National Council in May.
The documents’ key findings show that the Scouts "membership standards policy" is a "key factor" driving an 11% decline in loyalty between the spring and fall of 2012. Specifically, the polling indicates that:
• Of the 5,800 survey respondents who commented on the policy, 95% said the "reaffirmation of the membership policy negatively impacted their loyalty." For Boy Scouts and their parents, that number jumped to 97%.
• BSA noted that "conservative estimates assign a 15:1 ratio of negative to positive comments about the existing membership standards policy" that prohibits gay Scouts or scoutmasters.
• The public relations pressure following the ouster of a lesbian den mother in the summer of 2012, "seems to have greatly impacted Detractors, as the membership standards policy was mentioned 42 percent of the time in their comments. This volume is significant enough to warrant further discovery as it may be a key factor in the NPS decline for parents of Boy Scouts/Venturers."?
NPS is the Net Promoter Score, which is the BSA's key metric measuring "the degree of customer loyalty held by members of Scouting."
• "In communicating the findings of the data, this effort would be remiss to not report upon the number of membership standards policy comments left by every segment audience except Cub Scouts. Due to the relative insignificant shifts in the driver questions as a whole, this policy may be factoring into declines in NPS."
"These documents show that a policy of discrimination is not just out of touch with the rest of America, it is out of touch with its own members, too," said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality.
"The Scouting community understands that eliminating the BSA's ban on gay youth and parents is about more than just changing a policy — it's about protecting the future of an organization we love."
The Scouts policy ramifications extend beyond its membership. The BSA's "National Council Strategic Plan" from February 2013 indicates that:
• "We continue to move forward in building fundraising programs that benefit both local Councils and the National Council. The public climate form corporations to support Scouting based on the reaffirmation of the membership standards has shut several doors and proved challenging … Corporate giving policies related to the reaffirmation of the Membership Standards have created challenges."