Boy Scouts late to the game on transgender rights

By Miki Shine, COLUMNIST
On February 1, 2017

Boy Scouts finally announce they will allow transgender boys into the organization. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

The Boy Scouts organization took a strong and daring position this week when it announced it would finally allow transgender boys into its ranks.

True, the organization has been around for 107 years, and for that entire time, potential scouts were required to put the gender listed on their birth certificate. 

However, as of Monday, Boy Scouts’ leadership decided to admit those interested in its boys-only programs based on the gender the child identifies as — i.e. trans boys are welcome here.

“The Boy Scouts of America 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,” the official announcement stated.

Opponents argue this will lead to corruption in the organization and psychological damage for the boys forced to be in a troop with those who are different from them. 

Obviously, this inclusion is surely a sign of society’s fall, which will only lead to a decrease in funding for the organization until it either corrects its decision or is no longer able to function.

Except that’s not what history has proven will happen. In fact, the Boy Scouts are behind the times on this issue, not making groundbreaking societal stances.

Their female-centered counterpart, the Girl Scouts, started publicly accepting trans girls in 2012.

However, the organization also didn’t have any rules against allowing those who identified as girls to join the troops prior. 

It was ultimately one leader in Colorado who didn’t fully understand the organization’s policy which lead to an official statement on the issue.

A stance currently spelled out on their website says, “If the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.”

Despite the threats of a cookie boycott over the inclusive mindset, the Girl Scouts made $785 million for 2012, which landed them as the No. 3 cookie company in the U.S., according to USA Today.

While the Girl Scouts had no issues taking this stance while already accepting the rest of the LGBT community, the Boy Scouts were still debating whether or not to accept gay youth. 

It wasn’t for another three years — 2015 — until the organization dared to take a stance by accepting openly gay troop leaders.

The new policy doesn’t address the issue of transgender troop leaders.

And it’s not like the Boy Scouts  are terrified of opening their doors for other programs.

The group sponsors the program Venturing, which allows older scouts to work on leadership skills, for those of either gender and has done so since 1998, according to their website. 

Females have been allowed to participate in a section of the Boy Scouts for nearly 20 years, but trans and gay boys couldn’t based on the concern that they’d convert others.

So, since 1998, gender hasn’t been a barrier for the scouts as long as that gender fell within their perfectly square boxes.

Yes, the Boy Scouts do deserve some semblance of praise for taking this stance given the current climate for transgender people.

Bathroom bills, which would require people to use the restroom that matches their birth certificate rather than how they identify, are currently up for debate in 12 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website. 

Members of the community also face higher risk of suicide, of physical or sexual violence, of work or housing discrimination than their non-transgender counterparts and aren’t allowed to serve in the military, according to multiple studies on the community.

So, yes, the Boy Scouts of America deserves cookies for taking a stance on this hot-button issue by addressing a flaw in its policy. But it doesn’t get a whole box for jumping in on the Girl Scout Kumbaya for the sake of looking progressive.

 

Miki Shine is a junior majoring in mass communications. 

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