iStock.com/dlincaIn a week when most of the headlines have ranged from horrifying to heinous, we finally have news that proves progress is still being made in this country: The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has at last decided to admit children based on their gender identity instead of the gender listed on their birth certificates, meaning that transgender boys will finally be able to join the organization -- reversing a policy that caused a transgender boy in New Jersey to be kicked out of his group last year.
Considering the fact that the previous policy was in place for over a century -- and also considering the increasingly intolerant climate in our country at the moment -- this development is significant, to say the least. Also significant is the wording of the statement released on the Boy Scouts website, which acknowledges the fact that our society is changing (and that the organizations dedicated to serving our children are obliged to change with it):
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.
No longer sufficient, indeed! Given how deeply threatened minorities of all kinds (including LBGTQ individuals) feel right now, this might seem like a small victory. But it's actually a fairly bold move on behalf of the Boy Scouts, considering that the organization has been the target of heavy criticism for its inclusive policies in the past: In 2015, the Mormon Church threatened to break its very close ties with the BSA following the end of its ban on openly gay adult leaders; in 2013, many conservative parents forced their children to drop out of the Scouts after it abolished its ban on openly gay kids. (Sadly, when that 8-year-old transgender boy was removed from his pack in Secaucus last year, it was in response to complaints from parents, not from the kids.)
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So right now, policy changes like these (although long overdue) mean a lot. The current administration's discriminatory agenda is spreading into areas of our lives we never dreamed possible. Let's not forget that the Girl Scouts marched in Trump's inaugural parade, to the dismay and outrage of many. (That said, the Girl Scouts has actually been accepting trans girls for years, interestingly enough.) This is an undeniably crucial time for LGBTQ rights. While just this morning, the White House released a statement promising that Donald Trump will not roll back Obama's 2014 executive order banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace, that doesn't mean Trump won't sign another executive order creating religious exemptions for those LGBTQ protections (as many expect him to do). Every battle in this arena is a battle worth fighting. Every victory is important.
The Boy Scouts had a choice to make here; thankfully, it made the right one. If only more organizations, particularly those with influence over our kids, would follow suit!