Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Boy Scouts of America Opens Membership to Transgender Boys

The Boy Scouts of America announced yesterday that it will "accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application." This is a change from the organization's previous policy that looked to the applicant's birth certificate for the evidence of eligibility for membership, and it paves the way for transgender boys to be able to join the organization. In its report on this story, the New York Times underscored the abrupt and marked reversal of course by pointing out that only last month a New Jersey Cub Scout became the first transgender boy to be rejected from the Boy Scouts when he was removed from his troop one month after joining.  

The BSA is not subject to Title IX, but I am posting about this story on the Title IX Blog because I think it sets a good example for school districts and other organizations that may be considering similar policy changes. The Boy Scouts are in a position to be particularly persuasive to school districts because they often meet in and are connected to schools. The timing of their policy change is also useful, as it seems some school districts are using the anticipated repeal of  OCR's guidance about Title IX's application to transgender students as an excuse to reject proposed policies that would protect LGBT students and employees. The new BSA policy proves that even without the government's promise to enforce Title IX in favor of transgender rights, it is still both legal and appropriate for local organizations to do the right thing on their own.