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Gays can finally join the scouts in the USA

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of 31 July 2015) On July 27, 2015, the Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) endorsed a resolution abolishing the ban on openly gay adult mentors or scouts to work for the association. But the text is only partially gay-friendly.

[Update of February 6, 2017. From now on, the boy scout organization Boy Scouts of America will admit Wolf Cubs and Boy Scouts according to their gender identity and no longer based on the gender marked in their birth certificate. This will allow transgender children to express the gender that they personally feel. More details at the end of this article.]

In the video below, the association president Robert Gates explains that homophobic discrimination was "more bearable" within BSA – hence the amendment of its regulations.

The resolution received 79% of the votes. It immediately entered into force across the US.

Robert Gates, President of BSA, former Secretary of State for Defence and himself a former Scout, had thrown his weight behind a more friendly attitude within the US Scouting (see video above).

The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the premises of the organisation or through its vacancies.

This resolution completes another decision, taken at 61% of the votes two years ago, through which BSA finally accepts young gay scout.

Through the text voted yesterday, partner organizations, however, retain the possibility of recruiting candidates or deny adults as they see fit. Religious organizations and partners can "continue to invoke religious reasons as adult supervisors selection criteria, including issues related to sexuality.”

BSA now claims 2.5 million Scouts aged 7 to 21 years, plus 960,000 adult volunteers. The partner organizations bring to the Boy Scouts of America volunteers and 110 000 scout troops. About 70% of these member organizations are religious in nature.

Comment. Needless to say that American LGBT organizations have welcomed this decision at least as they should: with gratitude and without excessive enthusiasm.

This certainly is a step forward but it leaves the door open to faith-based homophobia in general, and particularly by mormons: This obedience brings battalions of volunteers and specialised associations to the US scouting organizations.

Update of February 6, 2017. As of January 30, 2017, “we will accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application,” BSA states in a press release. The local unit will then be in charge of finding the group that will work best for the young individual.

Boy Scout organizations used to look at the gender given on the birth certificates. If a child looked and behaved like a boy but its birth certificate stated it was a girl, the application was rejected.

In the video below, Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the BSA, explains why the organizations has now put an end to the dictate of the birth certificate.


In the press release, BSA states that “... we realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient,” as Michael Surbaugh explains in the video above. Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently, which is why there should be the most flexible approach possible.

This decision comes after the case of a transgender child of 8 years who was excluded from the organization in December 2016. The child had been admitted to the Boy Scouts of America because its birth certificate said it was a boy. On the other hand, the child behaved and looked like a girl.

Our opinion: The about-face of BSA did not just come to serve the best interest of the families and children (bla-bla...) but in fact, a legal battle would have exposed BSA to large risks. It is rather a coincidence that this development comes at the same time as the discussions about gender-neutral restrooms in the USA. Of course, the decision is welcomed by the LGBT organizations.
Main source: New York Times, January 30, 2017.

Frank-S / MensGo
(via all the press of 27 July 2015)

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