Boy Scouts policy shows potential for changing conservative attitudes

The United States has undoubtedly entered a new era of conservatism under President Donald Trump, and bipartisan tension is skyrocketing in both public and private spheres. Amid presidential executive orders and controversial selections to his cabinet, it is necessary to hold accountable and to keep a critical eye on organizations that actively discriminate against disempowered Americans.

The Boy Scouts of America—which was established more than 100 years ago—is one organization that has had its fair share of criticism and public backlash for its generally conservative policies. Until 2013, the organization banned openly gay youths from joining and participating in the program—a policy that largely upholds negative stereotyping about gay men as acting in predatory behavior. 

The Boy Scouts, however, kicked an 8-year-old transgender boy out of his local New Jersey Cub Scout pack as recently as Dec. 30, 2016 after parents of other members complained. 

“The Boy Scouts just spent several years trying to make right a decades-old policy that discriminated against gay people,” co-founder of Scouts for Equality Zach Wahls said. “The last thing they should be doing in this moment is creating a new, discriminatory policy that is out of touch in the 21st century.”

Despite this recent controversy, the Boy Scouts announced a change in their policy on allowing transgender youth into their organization. The organization officially stated on Monday Jan. 30 that it will no longer require prospective members to provide a birth certificate to prove their assigned gender. Therefore, transgender and nonbinary children will be welcome to join.

While it is frustrating that—under a conservative administration—a policy on LGBTQ+ rights is vulnerable and under threat, it is comforting to know that there is a possibility for conservative organizations to change and to become more open-minded. The Boy Scouts need to make up for their long history of discrimination and anti-LGBTQ+ politics, and this new policy is a starting point from which they can improve their organization.

Hopefully similar charity groups or recreational organizations—such as the Salvation Army—adopt helpful LGBTQ+ policies and chose the side of acceptance rather than intolerance.