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Trans Inclusion – Next Steps

The Boy Scouts of America has once again amended their membership standards: as of today, transgender boys are now welcome in all BSA programs.

This marks another new day for the Scouting movement. We are incredibly proud of the Boy Scouts of America. The struggle for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual members lasted over 37 years. It took millions of petition signatures, hundreds of families being hurt, countless lawsuits, and millions of dollars in donations lost to make the change happen.

In stark contrast, a month after the BSA first removed a transgender boy from the program, it has reversed the policy that led to his expulsion. Frankly, this is remarkable.

Watch the announcement from Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh.

There were no petitions, there were no lawsuits, and there were no donations lost. There was, however, one young boy who was hurt by this struggle – Joe Maldonado. We are so proud of Joe and how courageous he was in standing up to the discrimination he experienced in the Boy Scouts. We sincerely hope he will give Scouting a chance again.

So, what’s next?

The BSA’s membership policies have been changed, but it’s going to take some time for this change to be fully absorbed into the culture of Scouting. Many people are unfamiliar with this topic. Some might have questions about it. Some might not understand the value of diversity in Scouting. Some might be afraid of this change and what it means for their pack, troop, ship, team, or crew.

You can help! Here are some things you can do.

  • Get informed. Check out this great FAQ from the National Center for Transgender Equality.
  • Show everyone that your unit is pro-actively inclusive! Sign up on our Inclusive Unit Program.
  • Be vocal about this. Bring up the topic with the other leaders in your unit. Speak at adult leader meetings about it.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, expressing your admiration for the BSA taking this positive step forward.
  • Support Scouting by volunteering in a new role, or by making a donation to a local unit, your council, or the national office.

With this change, Scouting can get back to doing what it does best – running programs to help the youth of today grow into the leaders of tomorrow. We applaud the BSA for their courageous actions today, but we shall remain vigilant. We are steadfast in our belief that Scouting should be for everyone – regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), ability, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.

Justin Wilson
Eagle Scout ’02
Executive Director
Scouts for Equality