NASHVILLE, TN – The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced on Monday they will now allow girls who identify as boys to participate in its boys-only programs. Since the organization was created more than a century ago, the Boy Scouts has relied on the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for their single-gender programs. But in a video announcement, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said the organization “will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.” The change in policy will force all Scout troops to include transgender girls, that is, girls who are struggling with gender dysphoria (feeling one's emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one's biological sex).
The BSA has recently been accused of “discrimination” for refusing to include girls who identify as transgender. Last year an 8-year-old transgender girl sued her local New Jersey Boy Scouts’ Council for discrimination after she was kicked out of a Cub Scout troop. The suit claims the Boy Scouts of America Northern New Jersey Council violated the state's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) law by excluding the girl who identifies as a boy. “State laws like the one in New Jersey are precisely what this BSA statement cites as its rationale for this decision,” says Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. “Because these laws are on the books, the BSA would be exposed to lawsuits in every state that has a SOGI law in the books . . . Rather than fighting these lawsuits, the BSA has apparently decided to capitulate.”
As the Baptist Press noted, this latest policy change follows a 2013 decision by the BSA to permit openly homosexual scouts and a 2015 change that approved the inclusion of openly gay and bisexual adults as unit leaders and employees. “Now we see once again that the Boy Scouts really is committed to a gender-theory culture war that evangelical Christians and many other Americans just can’t accept,” ERLC president Russell Moore told the New York Times. Dr. Moore noted in his interview with the newspaper that Southern Baptist churches and others had been dismayed by Boy Scout policies for several years, as the Scouts moved first to allow openly gay youth members, and then openly gay adult leaders. “I think, for some, this will be the final sign that it’s time to go,” said Dr. Moore.
Research studies have shown that up to 93 percent of children referred for gender dysphoria grow out of it naturally by the time they reach adolescence or adulthood. But many Christians fear that BSA’s decision will reinforce the gender dysphoria. “It is tragic that the Boys Scouts are making this misstep,” added Andrew Walker, ERLC’s director of policy studies. “Allowing transgender ideology to gain acceptance within the Boy Scouts will only further confuse children with gender dysphoria, and inject further confusion into one of America's key institutions about what it means to be made male. The Boy Scouts are surrendering their merit badge for courage with this cowardly act of kowtowing (subservient) to the Sexual Revolution.”
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Gabe Lyons, speaking on the ERLC podcast, reminds us that continuing to seek truth in Scripture will enable us to be bold when faced with this opposition and confusion.