A look at some of the turmoil surrounding the Boy Scouts, from a gay ban to bankruptcy

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America achieved a vaunted status in the United States

ByJAMIE STENGLE Associated Press
May 7, 2024, 11:27 AM

IRVING, Texas -- Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America achieved a vaunted status in the U.S. over the decades, with pinewood derbies, the Scout Oath and Eagle Scouts becoming part of the lexicon.

Lore has it that American businessman William Boyce was inspired to start the organization after he became lost in the fog in London and was guided to his destination by a youth who turned down a tip, telling Boyce that because he was as a scout (they were formed in Britain in 1907) he couldn't accept money for a good deed.

The U.S. organization, which now welcomes girls throughout the ranks and allows them to work toward the coveted Eagle Scout status, announced Tuesday that it will change its name to Scouting America as it focuses on inclusion.

Here's a look at some of the turmoil the American icon has endured over the last several decades:

In 1990, the Boy Scouts of America expelled James Dale, an Eagle Scout who had become an assistant scoutmaster, after discovering he was co-president of Rutgers University's gay and lesbian organization. He sued in 1992 accusing the Boy Scouts of discrimination, and lost at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the organization could maintain membership and leadership criteria that excluded homosexuals.

Conservative groups rallied around the Boy Scouts, but scores of institutions curtailed support as the ban continued.

It wasn't until 2013 that the organization began allowing gay Scouts. In 2015, the organization ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.

In 2017, the Boy Scouts announced that they would allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in their boys-only programs.

That came after an 8-year-old transgender child was asked to leave his Scout troop in New Jersey after parents and leaders found out he is transgender.

In what was arguably the biggest change, the Boy Scouts of America said in 2017 that girls would be welcomed into the program. With that announcement, girls were accepted as Cub Scouts as of 2018 and into the flagship Boy Scout program — renamed Scouts BSA — in 2019.

There were nearly 1,000 women in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in 2021. Today, more than 6,000 girls have earned the coveted Eagle Scout rank.

The Girl Scouts of the USA sued, but a settlement was reached after a judge rejected its claims and said both groups can use words like “scouts” and “scouting.”

When it sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America had been named in about 275 lawsuits, and told insurers it was aware of another 1,400 claims.

Last year a federal judge upheld the $2.4 billion bankruptcy plan allowing the organization to keep operating while compensating more than 80,000 men who filed claims saying they were sexually abused while in scouting.