For those wondering what’s behind the BSA’s continuing ban on LGBT folks, here are some numbers for you. The organizations that sponsor the most troops and/or have the greatest enrollment of Scouts exert greater influence over national policy.
According to the “2011 Boy Scouts of America Local Council Index,” as of December 31, 2011, 55% of Boy Scouts were registered to a troop chartered by one of the top six faith-based institutional* sponsors of Scouting:
- Mormon Church (16%)
- Methodist Church (14%)
- Catholic Church (11%)
- Presbyterians (5%)
- Lutherans (5%)
- Baptists (4%)
- Total of 1.4MM Scouts
By contrast, 10% of Boy Scouts were registered to a troop sponsored by one of the top six civic institutional* sponsors of Scouting
- American Legion (3%)
- Lions Clubs International (3%)
- Rotary International (2%)
- VFW (1%)
- Kiwanis (1%)
- Elks (1%)
- Total of 265K Scouts
The remainder of Scouts belonged to troops sponsored by a variety of smaller institutions, educational and independent organizations.
The Mormons, the Methodists and the Catholics EACH sponsor more Scouts than the top five civic organizations COMBINED.
The Mormons, the Methodists, and the Catholics hold a combined total of 41% of the membership. Thus, two organizations that couldn’t be more committed to the continued marginalization and demonization of LGBT folk — the LDS and Catholic churches — exert a vastly disproportionate level of influence over national policy for the BSA.
And therein lies the problem.
*”Institutional” in this case refers to a single, centralized organization, like the American Legion, or the Mormon Church. It’s worth noting that over 360,000 Scouts were members unaffiliated “Groups of Citizens,” “Parent Teacher organizations other than PTA/PTO,” and “Private Schools.” (These are the top three categories of non-institutional organizations. Others include “Business & Industry,” “Chambers of Commerce,” “Nonprofits,” and “Homeowners Associations.”) But these decentralized, independent organizations cannot speak in one voice on matters of policy like the large institutional sponsors can, therefore their influence is diluted at the national board level.
Source: “Chartered Organizations and the Boy Scouts of America”