Monday brought good news to transgender children across the U.S. The New York Times reports that on January 30th, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would accept members based on the gender stated on their applications, rather than the sex listed on their birth certificates. The decision comes after the Boy Scouts ended its ban on gay youth in 2013 and its ban on gay leaders in 2015.
LGBTQ equality advocates at the Human Rights Campaign and Scouts for Equality were pleased with the decision. Naturally, transphobic voices from the Religious Right were disgusted.
Writing at Fox News, Todd Starnes claimed that the Boy Scouts caved into "militant social justice warriors" and "sacrificed its last vestige of integrity on the altar of political correctness". Starnes called for churches and parents to abandon the Boy Scouts in favor of Trail Life USA.
Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the Baptist Press that the decision confirmed his fears of "an organizational reinvention". According to Moore, the Christian church "must be absolutely clear about God's good and beautiful design for men and women, even when our most cherished public institutions fail to do so," lamenting that, "Tragically, the Boy Scouts seem to be continuing their trajectory toward embracing the moral priorities of the Sexual Revolution."
Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College (affiliated with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) with a history of transphobia, was also unhappy. In a January 30th blog post, he expressed disappointment that the Boy Scouts "succumbed to pressure" and chose to "capitulate" on the issue of transgender scouts. Burk called the decision a "concession to radical gender ideology" that will fail to help children.
"When a child embraces a psychological identity at odds with his bodily identity, this is not healthy or good for that child. And it only adds insult to injury for adults to accommodate this harmful self-impression. But that is what this new policy does.Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, told the Christian Post that the decision marks "the end of the Boy Scouts of America as we know it." Wildmon predicted a "demise" of the Boy Scouts, accusing their policy of being "incompatible with scripture" and "teaching gender confusion" to children.
I can’t help but grieve that the Boy Scouts are going along with this radical redefinition of what it means to be a boy. They are making a big mistake in this, and it will be one that hurts not only their organization but also the very boys they wish to serve."
As with every other advance made by the LGBTQ community, the Religious Right is horrified that transgender boys can now join the Boy Scouts like normal children. As more people and institutions refuge to stigmatize transgender persons, the Religious Right will grow frustrated and baffled. In the meantime, transgender boys can now enjoy the Boy Scout's camaraderie and learning experiences while being true to themselves.