Americans Agree With Boy Scout Decisions On Gay Scouts, Leaders

May 29, 2013, 1:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/25/2013) Americans approve of the Boy Scout Organization’s decision to allow gay youths to become Boy Scouts, and support the organization’s decision not to allow gay scout leaders. And in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, most adults would allow a son of theirs to become a Boy Scout today.

The contrast between support for permitting gay youths and opposing gay leaders is great: By 52% to 34%, Americans would allow gay Scouts; by 52% to 37%, they oppose gay Scout leaders.

Women are more supportive of permitting both gay scouts and gay leaders than men are, though women are not in support of allowing gay leaders. Men favor allow gay scouts by 50% to 38%; women by 55% to 33%. But 56% of men oppose gay scout leaders, while women divide more closely, 41% in favor, 49% opposed. Historically, women have always been more supportive than men of gay rights issues.

Those men who have been Boy Scouts themselves are more in favor of the organization’s decision to admit gay youth than are men who have not been scouts. 54% of former Scouts favor the change, compared with 46% of non-Scouts. There is much less difference when it comes to allowing gay leaders. Majorities in both groups oppose that change. There are political divisions here as well, especially when it comes to permitting gay men to serve as Scout leaders. 57% of conservatives and 52% of Republicans oppose allowing boys who are openly gay to join the Scouts. But those percentages increase to 84% and 77% when it comes to permitting gay Scout leaders. Most of those opposing gay leaders say they “strongly” disapprove of them.

Majorities of Democrats and liberals support both gay scouts and gay leaders.

All age groups except senior citizens would permit gay scouts; opposition to gay leaders increases with age. College graduates overwhelmingly support allowing gays to be Scouts (67% to 25%), and favor permitting gay leaders, too (52% to 39%).

And Americans would let their sons become Scouts, even with the new policy: by 53% to 32%, the public says they would allow a Boy Scout-age son to become a Scout. Even many of those who oppose the new policy would still let their sons join: by 45% to 37%, Republicans would let their son become a Scout, as would 40% of conservatives.

Former Scouts are especially likely to want their sons to become Scouts. Nearly two in three would let their son join under the new policy. Less than half of men who were not Scouts would permit that.