Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Boy Scouts of America recent acceptance of Trangender Individuals

On January 30th, 2017 the Boy Scouts of America released a new video on their website. Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh acknowledged that the group has been "challenged by a very complex topic... the issue of gender identity.” He states that they will now be accepting applicants based on the gender identity rather than the sex on their birth certificate; contrary to their previous policy. This is revolutionary for the BSA, as up until July 27th 2015 they did not accept homosexual males as leaders of their program or even homosexual participants only three years ago. However, how does the BSA’s acceptance of Trans individuals qualify as persuasion?

A boy scout carried a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade in San Francisco in 2015.

CreditNoah Berger/Reuter

In the video that was released this past Monday, Surbaugh states, “I hope you'll join with me in embracing the opportunity to bring scouting to more families and children who can benefit from what our organization has to offer.” By his use of the words “hope you’ll join with me”, he implores listeners to share similar thoughts with him, with no intention of forcing others to believe, or even agree with, what he is saying. By using calm and informative language he allows his listeners to accept the ruling if they so please, and leaves it up to them to make the decision for themselves. He believes that young Trans boys should be allowed to take part in the activity of scouting, but in no way forces others to share the same morals.

Additionally, Surbaugh states that "We will also continue to work with families to find Scouting units that are the best fit for their children" Here he is telling us that things are still far from perfect, but they are ready and willing to make a change. By now allowing these young boys to take part in this activity the BSA believes that this ruling can act as a catalyst for future efforts.

All in all, this is a huge step for the BSA. As a queer person who was involved in Scouts for nearly half of my life, I can understand what it feels like to be alienated for being who I truly am. When I read this article yesterday I could not contain my emotion, especially with our country being in the state that is currently in. This video shows all who listen that change is still possible, and that we the people still have the power to fight for true acceptance. We are far from perfect, but this video gives me hope that acceptance of all people is actually possible.


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