While Boy Scouts of America is changing its practices on membership for transgender children, area Boy Scout leaders say their goal to provide quality programming to all hasn’t changed.
Ronald Green, Scout executive and CEO of the Greater St. Louis Area Council, said the new transgender-friendly enrollment practice is not a policy change, but rather a shift in the organization’s approach when it comes to determining an applicant’s gender.
A statement from the Boy Scouts of America said the program will now accept and register children based on the gender identity indicated on the child’s application.
“It’s a national issue, and it’s a little early to see any issue with it, but I don’t think we are the first organization that has dealt with this,” said Green, whose council covers the metro-east. “Our focus is serving children. We have a wonderful mission that prepares them for life.”
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The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis has issued a statement in opposition to the change.
“For many years the Boy Scouts of America has been an organization that could be trusted with the formation for our youth. This policy directive is the latest in a troubling pattern of behavior exhibited by the Boy Scouts of America,” the archdiocese’s statement reads. “It is clear that as they move in the ways of the world they are becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values.”
Green said he is not aware of any transgender child in the area who has requested to join a Boy Scouts pack or troop.
“We are chartered by Congress to serve boys with an educational program — and throughout our history boys were defined at birth and biologically,” he said. “That definition has been changing recently ... Our goal is to accommodate — if someone is a boy by current definition to accommodate to get them into a pack or troop — and that they will be comfortable and have a quality program just like any other child.”
The statement, issued by national Boy Scouts of America leaders, also stated the change comes as state laws and communities interpret gender identity differently.
“The BSA is committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family, and this is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of Scouting to the greatest number of youth possible — all while remaining true to our core values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” the statement read.
The Associated Press reported reported that change was sparked by a recent case where an 8-year-old boy in Secaucus, N.J., was asked to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. However, the organization’s statement said the change was made in light of the national issue surrounding gender identity.
Green said he does not anticipate that there will be problems or issues among leaders and children when it comes to transgender children participating in the program.
“I don’t want to speculate — scouting teaches our youth and adults to respect people ... So, you know, I can’t read the future, but I do believe that our leaders and our scouts are trustworthy, loyal, helpful — all those great qualities that we teach,” Green said.