BSA to welcome transgender scouts

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The Boy Scouts of America organization has issued an announcement, reversing a century-old practice and recognizing the place of transgender boys in the cubs and scouting movement.

…Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys. …

Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.  Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.

The Associated Press reports that the change came shortly after a transgender Cub Scout was removed from his pack late last year.

The organization’s leadership had considered a recent case in Secaucus, New Jersey, where an 8-year-old transgender child had been asked to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. But the statement issued Monday said the change was made because of the larger conversation about gender identity going on around the country.

“For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs,” the statement said. “However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.”

Kristie Maldonado said she had mixed emotions Monday night when a representative of Boy Scouts of America called to tell her the organization would allow her son, Joe, to re-enroll in his troop after he was asked to leave last fall. Maldonado said she would like her son to rejoin the Secaucus troop, but only if the scout leader who made the previous decision leaves.

The New York Times quotes Zach Wahls, of Scouts for Equality, hoping that the BSA follows up by working with experts in the field to formalize a policy to meet the need of transgender Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. On the Scouts for Equality website, Executive Director Justin Wilson writes,

The BSA’s membership policies have been changed, but it’s going to take some time for this change to be fully absorbed into the culture of Scouting. Many people are unfamiliar with this topic. Some might have questions about it. Some might not understand the value of diversity in Scouting. Some might be afraid of this change and what it means for their pack, troop, ship, team, or crew.

… We applaud the BSA for their courageous actions today, but we shall remain vigilant. We are steadfast in our belief that Scouting should be for everyone – regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), ability, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.

Find more reporting on the BSA announcement,  and the Scouts for Equality reponse, at the New York Times and the Associated Press.

Photo: by Frank J. (Frank John) Aleksandrowicz, 1921-, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Gregory Taylor
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Gregory Taylor

The LDS church, which sponsors more than three times as many BSA troops as any other organization, was quick to issue a statement pointing out that BSA recognizes their ability to continue to discriminate on this basis.

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-response-bsa-policy-announcement

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David Allen
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David Allen

Just as they retain the right to discriminate against GBT scouts and leaders.

UPDATE -
And unlike in 1978, when a major federal court racial discrimination case hung over the Church, directly related to its internal policies regarding youth leadership & priesthood ordination in Church sponsored BSA units, a similar lawsuit, filed on behalf of a transgender boy, is unlikely to rouse the Heavenly Celestial Court and result in a new revelation from Elohim to President Monson; Prophet, Seer & Revelator, as it did then with Spenser W Kimball.

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