For years the Boy Scouts of America has faced immense external pressure from the media, the ACLU, and other liberal strongholds of society to change its membership policies. In 2013, the Scouts could withstand the heat no longer.
The Boy Scouts announced that it would now allow openly gay youth to join the organization, with the new policy going into effect on January 1, 2014. Although disappointing to many, it was widely recognized that the new policy would likely have little impact on the program at the local level. However, the willingness of the national Boy Scouts to stand up to future left-wing crusades was called into question. This suspicion was vindicated just two years later.
In 2015, the Boy Scouts announced that it would now allow openly gay adults to serve as leaders within the organization. While this new policy prohibited the denial of volunteership based on an applicant’s sexual orientation, the individual Boy Scout units still reserved the right to select their adult leadership. Even though the Boy Scouts were radically changing policies that had been in place since the group’s founding, some individuals and groups on the left still felt this change was insufficient. Meanwhile, conservatives and some religious institutions were alarmed by the Boy Scouts’ new policies. The Mormon Church, for example, which sponsors numerous Scout troops, announced that it would be reviewing its relationship with the Boy Scouts in the wake of the decision.
Although the changes were disturbing to many members of society, many felt that at least these decisions would keep the Boy Scouts out of the left’s crosshairs in the future. Unfortunately, however, the recent push for transgender membership proved that this was not the case.
This transgender push began to target the Boy Scouts last year when a Cub Scout was kicked out after coming out as a transgender boy. Coming so soon after the reversals of the gay membership policies, it quickly became obvious that liberals would not let such a policy, unspoken though it may be, stand. A short time after the controversy, the Boy Scouts decided that they would allow people to join based on their “identified” gender , rather than on the basis of their biological sex.
Although not surprising considering the Scouts’ reversals on gay membership, the decision to allow transgender members marks a continuation of what has become a troubling precedent of bowing to left-wing intimidation—in this case, the threat of a legal challenge from one family. Furthermore, it is yet another example of the Boy Scouts turning away from traditional, societal values with which it has so long been identified.
In addition to worries about the next Boy Scouts’ capitulation, there are also concerns about what this all means for the program itself. Boy Scout membership has long been a distinction that sets people apart in the eyes of colleges and employers alike. In the past, high ranks within the Scouts like that of the elite “Eagle Scout,” for example, has proven to be a powerful résumé booster. However, with the Scouts’ membership policy in flux, the group’s prestige is not likely to remain unaffected.
For over a hundred years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a bastion of American tradition, teaching young Americans civics and outdoor skills, to name a few subjects, and preparing them to be contributing members of society, all while reflecting traditional American values. But in today’s age of lawsuits, protests, and innumerable other liberal strong-arm tactics, the future of the Boy Scouts is endangered. If the Boy Scouts cannot even defend their basic membership requirements, how is the organization expected to survive in the long run? And when the Boy Scouts of America finally succumbs to the “popular” pressures of liberal culture, so will die one of the great training grounds of American men, responsible for producing numerous American luminaries, including President Gerald Ford, Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Governor Rick Perry.
Now that anyone can join the Boy Scouts simply by “identifying” as a male, what is to prevent the diminution of other Boy Scouts’ standards? What is to prevent the long-coveted distinction of Eagle Scout from becoming nothing more than yet another participation trophy?
— Christopher Lipscomb is a freshman studying international affairs. He is a regular contributor to THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE.
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