After long resisting the push to include transgender boys in their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America have finally announced they will be reversing their decision and opening the doors to the previously banned group of people. Before now, the policy of the BSA explicitly stated that membership was based on the gender represented on a person’s birth certificate. The new policy will accept members based on their expressed gender identity.
In a statement, Director of Communications for the Boy Scouts Effie Delimarkos said,
“While we offer a number of programs that serve all youth, Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys. 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. 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.
While this statement does not read as a ringing welcome to transgender boys who may want to join the Scouts — particularly the need to specifically cite state laws varying as the supposedly sole reason for doing this — it is progressive nonetheless. However, another piece of the statement is more encouraging.
“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 BSA is committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family, and this is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of Scouting to the greatest number of youth possible – all while remaining true to our core values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.”
That the prepared statement makes sure to mention finding the best fit for each scout and serving the “whole family” offers an optimistic future where if a Boy Scout continues to be ostracized or made fun of in a specific troop, the larger organization will step in and do what is right to assign them to a more fitting troop in their area.
Whether this will be possible or not is another story, but that the Boy Scouts are even including this promise in the first statement changing a much-lambasted policy is a positive sign.