Amid sexual abuse lawsuits and dwindling membership, the Boy Scouts of America is facing tough financial times.
The youth organization focused on character development and values-based leadership training has hit a rough patch. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Boy Scouts of America has hired law firm Sidley Austin LLP, the latest sign that the organization may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
While the organization hasn’t publically filed for bankruptcy, signs point toward a filing.
In just the past year, Boy Scouts of America received numerous lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. And participation has dropped since the early 2000s when it peaked at around 4 million members.
A bankruptcy filing would enable the Boy Scouts of America to stop the litigations and negotiate with the involved parties.
“We have a social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting,” Mike Surbaugh, chief Scout executive, said in a letter to employees. “We also have an obligation to carry out our mission to serve youth, families, and local communities through our programs.”
Boy Scouts Considers Bankruptcy
Founded in 1910, Boy Scouts has served as one of the preeminent youth development organizations in the nation. In 2017, Boy Scouts had 2,283,000 registered youth members with approximately 889,000 adult leaders.
And in recent years, Boy Scouts has come into the public eye for lawsuits and structural changes.
Lawsuits have been filed for sexual assault dating back to the 1970s. In 2013, the organization began admitting openly gay Scouts. Then, in 2015, Boy Scouts permitted gay leaders. In 2017, Boy Scouts opened its membership to girls, a move lauded by some and criticized by others, including the Girl Scouts.
This year, the Mormon church discontinued its relationship with Boy Scouts, one of the group’s largest sponsors.
And now, the nonprofit may file for bankruptcy to keep running.
“We are working with experts to explore all options available to ensure that the local and national programming of the Boy Scouts of America continues uninterrupted,” said Surbaugh.