Yet another cultural domino fell in the battle against common sense on Monday. After a New Jersey family sued their state’s Boy Scouts’ Council for expelling a transgender “boy” from Cub Scouts last month, the Boy Scouts of America released a statement altering policy to allow “boys” of any biological sex to join their (somehow still) gender-based programs.
“We and others have recently been challenged by a very complex topic on the issue of gender identity,” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a video statement. “For more than a hundred years, the BSA, along with schools, youth sports, and other youth organizations ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for” gender-specific programs like the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Then Surbaugh announced the stunning decision. “Starting today, we will accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application.” He also added that “we will continue to work with families to find scouting units that are the best fit for their children.”
When news of the policy broke on Monday evening, many liberals praised the decision as if it had been a political statement — some even said it was a response to Donald Trump’s recent executive orders.
Go Boy Scouts! Surreal to see this progress in light of everything else we are seeing.
— Nicole Hodges (@nicoleshodges) January 31, 2017
The Boy Scouts, long criticized for exclusion, are basically saying FU to Trump in advance of inevitable LGBTQ EOs. Just waiting…. https://t.co/sHgj52dO37
— Caroline (@cdrhoo) January 31, 2017
The true context of this decision is revealing, however. In December, an 8-year-old biological girl who identifies as a transgender boy filed a lawsuit against the local New Jersey Boy Scouts’ Council for discrimination after being kicked out of a Cub Scout troop, NBC Philadelphia reported. The suit, filed by the “boy” and his mother, Kristie Maldonado, accused the Boy Scouts of America Northern New Jersey Council violated the state’s law against discrimination.
This was merely the latest in a long string of legal actions spearheaded by the Obama administration to interpret longstanding laws prohibiting “discrimination on the basis of sex” to apply to gender identity.
Contrary to Maldonado’s lawsuit — and Obama’s Justice Department — “sex” or “biological sex” refers to a human being’s chromosomal makeup. People we call “males” have one “x” chromosome and one “y” chromosome. People we call “females” have two “x” chromosomes. “Gender,” by contrast, deals more specifically with identity, and extends to the categories of “transgender” — identifying with the gender opposite your biological sex — and “cisgender” — identifying with the gender that fits your biological sex. Yes, normal people get a label.
Discrimination on the basis of sex means having a double standard between the biological sexes. This has been outlawed for a long time, and rightly so. But programs like the Boy Scouts which — surprisingly? — only include boys are allowed to restrict their programs to boys, under the right of free association.
Reportedly, the transgender “boy” Joe Maldonado was allowed to join Cub Scout Pack 87 in October. When parents discovered that “he” was actually a biological girl pretending to be a boy, they complained to the pack, which expelled him in November.
Boy Scouts of America Spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos previously said that the transgender “boy” doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the Cub Scout program. “If needed we defer to the information provided for an individual’s birth certificate and their biological sex,” Delimarkos explained.
In this context, the Boy Scouts’ policy change makes sense. In fact, Chief Scout Executive Surbaugh’s comments seemed to hint that the lawsuit was indeed a factor.
“After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organization, we realize that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient,” Surbaugh said. “Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently than society did in the past, and these new laws vary widely from state to state.”
Surbaugh understandably caved to social and legal pressure to accept transgender ideology. He was in a very difficult situation, the political climate is tense, and the current president has signaled his support for transgender issues. The Boy Scouts of America was facing a lawsuit, and if they chose not to alter their policy, it is very likely more pressure and more lawsuits would follow. (After all, North Carolina’s bathroom bill cost that state a great deal.)
Furthermore, Surbaugh’s statement also suggests that the organization is taking a local approach to this issue — promising to “work with families to find scouting units that are the best fit for their children.”
After all, if a mother is raising her child transgender (as in the case of the Maldonados), does she really want her “boy” to be in a pack or scout troop that looks askance on transgender people? And new parents, bringing their boys into a pack or troop for the first time, might be repulsed by the presence of transgender “boys” in the group. For better or worse, Boy Scouts of America has a national brand that must adapt to local circumstances.
Nevertheless, the rule that transgender “boys” can join the Boy Scouts has struck many as “crazy.”
This is crazy, IMO. https://t.co/8ddusaaxjD
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) January 31, 2017
— Maryann (@maremancini) January 31, 2017
Fox News’s Todd Starnes even recommended Americans reject the Boy Scouts of America and join Trail Life USA instead. Unlike the Boy Scouts, Trail Life USA is explicitly Christian. There are other alternatives as well, such as the Christian Service Brigade.
Boy Scouts: Girls not allowed – but girls who identify as boys are allowed. https://t.co/WlZKWmIE8w
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) January 31, 2017
Ultimately, it is up to parents to make the best choices for their children — whether to enroll them in Boy Scouts or to choose an alternative.