Even though the Girl Scouts have long been about inclusion, it seemed it was only recently that the American Family Association learned about it. Saying that the Girl Scouts have “lost their moral compass,” they called the inclusive policy “nonsense” and “dangerous,” alleging it means “Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program.” On May 13 the conservative group put up a petition to end the policy, which has now earned about 40,000 signatures.
In response, Girl Scouts USA's chief girl expert Andrea Bastiani Archibald wrote in a blog post, “Our mission to build 'girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place' extends to all members, and through our program, girls develop the necessary leadership skills to advance diversity and promote tolerance.”
The Girl Scouts are not backing down on their policy, and say they're well aware that if someone is a transgender girl, that means she’s a girl, not a “boy in a skirt.” "[I]f the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe," the Girl Scouts officially explained.
But wait, it gets better. It looks as though the Boy Scouts are amping up their inclusion as well.
On Thursday (May 21), Dr. Robert Gates, President of Boy Scouts of America told attendees of the annual conference, “[W]e must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” If policy doesn’t change, he believes the Boy Scouts will be finished. That does not mean, however, that every group must allow in qualified LGBTQ Scout leaders. Instead, he’s leaving it up to the local groups to decide how they want to handle it. Some local groups will invite LGBTQ leaders now while others will continue to exclude them.
Two years ago the Scouts made a compromise, saying that young Scouts were welcome, no matter their orientation. However, the buck stopped at Scout leaders, who were still banned if they’re members of the LGBTQ community. Some local Scout groups have hired in LGBTQ leaders, essentially daring the head of the Scouts to do anything. And now the BSA president, Robert M. Gates, has said he’s not going to stop these local groups from what they’re doing with their hiring policies.
Explaining why he chose to do it this way, Dr. Gates said, “Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70 percent of our Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.” While all of this is not a "formal proposal," as the New York Times explains, "the Scouts’ governing body should take up the issue formally at a future meeting."
Many LGBTQ rights advocates do see this as a promising step forward, even if the Boys Scouts still isn’t as inclusive as the Girl Scouts.
“It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a change within the next year or two is imminent,” noted Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality.