In September when we started a Boy Scouts den for my son and some of his first-grade classmates. It was going to be fun and scary. But never once did I wonder if any of these newly minted “Tigers” were not biologically a boy.
And honestly, why would I? They looked and dressed like boys. Yes, their voices are high-pitched and you could mistake them for girls, but they are 6 years old. So I took it at face value that they are all boys.
A few months later I read about a boy named Joe, a Cub Scout from New Jersey who was removed from his pack because it was revealed to a district executive that Joe was biologically not a boy. Joe and his family made no secret that he was a girl who lived his life as a little boy, but one of the other parents let the cat out of the bag to the higher-ups. Since at the time, the Boy Scouts of America had no formal protocol dealing with transgendered youth, he was removed. This is an 8-year-old who loves Star Wars and hanging out with his friends in his Cub Scout den. If I were the den leader or Cubmaster I would have fought the removal. It just wasn’t right.
The debate over Joe’s removal got all convoluted about transgendered people being sexual predators or, on the other hand, the worry about how can the other boys be expected not to do anything to a child who is biologically a girl. Here it is a child who may not be biologically male, but identifies and lives full time as a boy and wants to join a den because he wants to do all the awesome things Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts do. He isn’t some sleeper cell for a sinister LGBTQ agenda. If anything, he will try to fit in as much as he can and not call any attention to himself.
As far as the other boys, guess what: the Boy Scouts have rules to protect children (regardless of gender). They are called the Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection resources. If a scout unit can’t keep a child safe, that is not the problem of the child, it is a lack of leadership and some badly parented children. And what right does any child have abusing or bullying any other child regardless of gender or gender identity? That has no place in Scouting.
People say why can’t that kid just join the Girl Scouts. Well, HE wanted to be with boys his own age and do things boys like him do. I don’t know exactly what the Girl Scouts program entails, but they don’t have the emphasis on the outdoors that the Boy Scouts do. But they have been super inclusive of LGBTQ children and leaders for a few decades. But I digress.
Out of the blue, the Boy Scouts of America announced this week that they would accept transgender boys. There was not a years-long debate like there was on allowing gay men to lead dens. There were not dozens of questionnaires. It just happened. And it was the right thing.
According to the Boy Scout Law, a scout is KIND. A scout is FRIENDLY. A Scout is CHEERFUL. A Scout is LOYAL (which the N.J. council was not being to Joe). I have been reading a lot on scouting message boards about people saying they are leaving the BSA once and for all. Good. Leave. We don’t need people who don’t live up to the Scout Law in our group. Feel free to join one of the Alt-Right’s youth groups. You will find their program is not as full and developed as the BSAs, and while they may have some of the same ideologies as you, you better hate all the right things.
I am going to let you in on a secret. There have been transgender boys in Scouting for years. They just happened to not piss off Mrs. Jenkins at the Pinewood Derby, who then found it necessary to blab a secret that wasn’t hers to tell. These transgender boys have earned badges and nothing bad has happened to them or by them. They were, in the good sense of the phrase, boys being boys. And there have been gay youth and adults in Scouting long before the membership policy change a few years ago. So anyone who is looking to go back to the good old days, guess who was there in the good old days?
Back at my den, none of the parents have mentioned to me that their son was once a daughter. And if that were the case, even before this, I really wouldn’t have cared. So today is a good day to be a Scout, and I hope that Joe rejoins his den (or another den with fewer asshole grownups) really soon.
A version of this first appeared on Great Moments in Bad Parenting.