Considering how long the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) struggled with whether to allow gay and bi boys to participate in the organization (and only allowing LGB scout leaders and volunteers two years after that), the decision to allow transgender boys happened more quickly and cleanly in comparison. The organization announced the decision Monday evening.
“Starting today,” the organization’s statement read, “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 noted that many states and municipalities now protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The timing of the announcement is probably not a coincidence. Just weeks ago, a New Jersey family filed suit against the BSA after it prohibited their eight-year-old son, Joe Maldonado, from joining because he is transgender. Though the BSA went to court to maintain its ban on gay Scouts back in 2000, it apparently didn’t want to take up a similar fight against trans Scouts.
Maldonado was excited by the victory, but not just for his own sake. “We weren’t just fighting so I could go in, we were fighting so this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” he told NBC 4 after the decision. “And now it looks like it won’t happen to anyone else. It better not.”
But religious conservatives were upset by the change. Jonathan Keller, CEO of the California Family Council, was quick to tell ThinkProgress that he found the BSA’s decision “tragically sad.” Despite the proud legacy of Eagle Scouts in his family, he will now refuse to let his children participate in the organization alongside transgender boys.
I'm sad I won't be able to have my children in BSA, and will have to actively campaign against the @boyscouts now.
— Jonathan Keller (@JonathanKeller) January 31, 2017
Denny Burk, who has pioneered the Southern Baptist Convention’s condemnations of transgender people, also mourned the decision, regurgitating fake research rejecting trans identities from the conservative hate group the American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the legitimate American Academy of Pediatricians).
“I can’t help but grieve that the Boy Scouts are going along with this radical redefinition of what it means to be a boy,” Burk wrote. “They are making a big mistake in this, and it will be one that hurts not only their organization but also the very boys they wish to serve.”
Russell Moore, president of the Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was shorter on words.
This is crazy, IMO. https://t.co/8ddusaaxjD
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) January 31, 2017
John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council, who has been one of the chief opponents of inclusion in the Boy Scouts, railed against the decision, warning “It’s simply stunning that a leading youth organization which parents entrust the protection of their children with has opted to again appease political activists rather than follow clear, common-sense best practices for child protection.” He, like Burk, believes that trans kids have a “mental disorder.” They do not.