The announcement this week by the Boy Scouts of America that it was considering reversing its policy of not allowing gays to join its ranks was front-page news. After all, the organization has fought tooth and nail—going all the way to the Supreme Court in 2000—to keep gays out.
Now, with the announcement that it’s reconsidering, the Boy Scouts can now move forward without controversy and leave the bad will that the policy created behind.
Not so fast. If you read the fine print on what the organization is proposing, it’s not a national policy change. Like the federal government does sometimes with states, the Boy Scouts intends to leave it up to individual chartering organizations as to whether to allow gays as scouts and scout leaders.
Troops are sponsored by churches, civic groups and schools. Thus BSA’s national policy reversal would put the onus on these local scouting groups—most administered by churches, civic groups and schools—to make uncomfortable decisions regarding its membership.
So while the Boy Scouts may be getting positive press now, it’s likely it will be more of the same controversy going forward, this time at the local level.
Bottom line: the Boy Scouts of America isn’t dealing with its crisis as much as it’s passing the crisis along. That’s not only bad crisis management, it’s just plain bad.
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