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Boy Scouts name change is a step forward for trans scouts

Written by gaytourism

A group of Boy Scouts in 2010

The United States’ Boy Scouts program is changing its name to Scouts BSA to reflect the organization’s decision to allow girls into the program.

The name change goes into effect in February 2019.

‘As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,’ Boy Scouts of America’s chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. ‘That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts.’

Cub Scouts, for little kids, was the first of the groups to welcome girls. By next year, older girls can join the Scouts and work to achieve the status of Eagle Scout, just like the boys.

The critics

However, not everyone was happy with this step forward for equality. Critics are calling it ‘co-ed political correctness.’ Many claimed this change was a ‘war on men and masculinity.’

Transgender Scouts

Despite this uninformed criticism, the name change is significant for many transgender Scouts.

Christyn is a former Boy Scout from Connecticut. Since her time Scouting, she has come out as trans and is supportive of the name change.

‘I joined Cub Scouts when I was in second grade. Before that I had tired all sorts of other activities – karate, gymnastics, little league, soccer, but none of them were a good fit,’ Christyn recalls. ‘So when the den leader for my age group said she didn’t have any more room in her den, my mom signed up as a leader for me and a bunch of my friends.’

Though she didn’t understand it at the time, Christyn remembers feeling dysphoria during her time with the Scouts.

‘Especially as I got older I felt more and more like I didn’t belong there,’ she tells GSN.

Lifting the gay ban

Back in 2012, LGBTI organization GLAAD protested the Scouts organization’s discriminatory policy banning gay members. In 2013, the organization lifted its ban on gay youth. By 2015, the ban on gay leaders was lifted as well.

‘I remember when I was younger about a lawsuit regarding this that BSA won allowing them to continue banning LGBT members, specifically because they were a private organization,’ Christyn says, referring to a lawsuit from 2000.

Safety for trans Scouts

While Christyn believes the name change won’t cause a huge shift socially, she is happy that she’ll be ‘able to tell people [she’s] an Eagle Scout, or that [she] was in the Scouts, without outing [herself].’

‘But personally, it’s weird for me to know that I was in the Boy Scouts,’ she says.

A Scout’s response to the critics

When it comes to the critics, Christyn finds a lot of them misattribute things to the founder of the Scouts and make ‘silly straw man’ arguments.

‘For example, they say that Lord Baden Powell (who founded the Scouting movement in 1908) wrote Scouting for Boys. But see, when a troop of girls showed up at an event, he was irritated, but helped found Scouting programs for girls. And even now, there’s going to be separate troops by gender, so all these years of shenanigans are ridiculous,’ she says.

‘Another argument made is that there’s already GSUSA [Girl Scouts USA], so why does BSA need to steal members. We’re not stealing, though, no more than someone would accuse little league of stealing from soccer. It’s just two different, unassociated programs. World scouting recognizes only one scouting group in each country, and here that’s BSA. Most of the member groups everywhere else are already co ed, so why not us?’

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