The United States’ Boy Scouts program is changing its name to Scouts BSA to reflect the organization’s decision to allow girls into the program.
The name change goes into effect in February 2019.
‘As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,’ Boy Scouts of America’s chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. ‘That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts.’
Cub Scouts, for little kids, was the first of the groups to welcome girls. By next year, older girls can join the Scouts and work to achieve the status of Eagle Scout, just like the boys.
However, not everyone was happy with this step forward for equality. Critics are calling it ‘co-ed political correctness.’ Many claimed this change was a ‘war on men and masculinity.’
— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@JoeTalkShow) May 5, 2018
Dear Son, You asked a perfectly reasonable question about why the Girl Scouts will remain the @GirlScouts but the #BoyScouts cannot remain the Boy Scouts. And the answer is simple: There is no war on women and girls. There is only a war on boys and men. #Qanon #BSA #feminism
— Rama Rama Tiki (@Crunchy_Conserv) May 5, 2018
The Boy Scouts will soon be neutered in the name of political correctness. Instead of learning about the outdoors and boy stuff, there will be sensitivity training prior to selling their allotment of Girl Scout cookies.
— Paul Gallo (@paulgalloshow) May 6, 2018
As a straight black conservative I’m so glad my dad didn’t waste his time by putting me in the boy scouts because I would have been fucking pissed!!! at these cowards at the boy scouts for caving into these men hating liberals what a shame.
— Mike Young (@TheMikester1983) May 4, 2018
— Jesse Lee Peterson (@JLPtalk) May 4, 2018
Despite this uninformed criticism, the name change is significant for many transgender Scouts.
i was kicked out of the boy scouts when i was close to eagle scout for coming to terms with being trans. back then, scouts was my life. i was passionate and cared heavily for it. but their conservative mentality that promotes gender segregation forced me out of something i loved.
— génesis chéverez (@GenesisCheverez) May 4, 2018
Christyn is a former Boy Scout from Connecticut. Since her time Scouting, she has come out as trans and is supportive of the name change.
‘I joined Cub Scouts when I was in second grade. Before that I had tired all sorts of other activities – karate, gymnastics, little league, soccer, but none of them were a good fit,’ Christyn recalls. ‘So when the den leader for my age group said she didn’t have any more room in her den, my mom signed up as a leader for me and a bunch of my friends.’
Though she didn’t understand it at the time, Christyn remembers feeling dysphoria during her time with the Scouts.
‘Especially as I got older I felt more and more like I didn’t belong there,’ she tells GSN.
Lifting the gay ban
Back in 2012, LGBTI organization GLAAD protested the Scouts organization’s discriminatory policy banning gay members. In 2013, the organization lifted its ban on gay youth. By 2015, the ban on gay leaders was lifted as well.
‘I remember when I was younger about a lawsuit regarding this that BSA won allowing them to continue banning LGBT members, specifically because they were a private organization,’ Christyn says, referring to a lawsuit from 2000.
Safety for trans Scouts
While Christyn believes the name change won’t cause a huge shift socially, she is happy that she’ll be ‘able to tell people [she’s] an Eagle Scout, or that [she] was in the Scouts, without outing [herself].’
‘But personally, it’s weird for me to know that I was in the Boy Scouts,’ she says.
A Scout’s response to the critics
When it comes to the critics, Christyn finds a lot of them misattribute things to the founder of the Scouts and make ‘silly straw man’ arguments.
‘For example, they say that Lord Baden Powell (who founded the Scouting movement in 1908) wrote Scouting for Boys. But see, when a troop of girls showed up at an event, he was irritated, but helped found Scouting programs for girls. And even now, there’s going to be separate troops by gender, so all these years of shenanigans are ridiculous,’ she says.
‘Another argument made is that there’s already GSUSA [Girl Scouts USA], so why does BSA need to steal members. We’re not stealing, though, no more than someone would accuse little league of stealing from soccer. It’s just two different, unassociated programs. World scouting recognizes only one scouting group in each country, and here that’s BSA. Most of the member groups everywhere else are already co ed, so why not us?’