Calling for executives to recognize the “social, political and juridicial changes taking place in our county,” Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates called for scouts to “seize control of our own future” by ending the ban on gay troop leaders. The announcement comes shortly after the Girl Scouts confirmed they will welcome transgender girls.
During his long speech, Gates said he believes the move to accept gay troop leaders is necessary to preserve the integrity of the organization. He also acknowledged that his remarks may “unsettle” some, but said it seemed necessary in light of some chapters “open defiance” to the standing policy in recent months. Nothing will go into effect immediately, but Gates suggested individual chapters should have the authority to make their own policies on whether to allow gay troop leaders.
The Girl Scouts position on welcoming transgender participants is also making news this week, although Girl Scouts USA’s chief girl expert Andrea Bastiani Archibald told CNN it isn’t a new development.
“It conforms with our continuous commitment to inclusivity,” she said. “Luckily, we don’t serve our critics. We are proud to serve all girls.”
The policy is in the news this month because of a new American Family Association petition to stop “boys dressing as girls” from joining troops. The AFA said, “The Girl Scouts of America has lost its moral compass and needs your encouragement to rescind this new policy.” The petition has earned more than 38,000 signatures in two weeks.
In a blog post published the same day as the petition, Bastiani Archibald said the signatures will not influence the Girl Scouts’ stance.
“If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe,” she said. “Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case by case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority.”