Accepting transgender scouts may spark backlash
Nothing hastens change faster than boycotts, lawsuits and diminishing membership and revenue intake. Of course, large media coverage and the shifting ground of sexual and cultural mores in the United States play big parts as well.
In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has reversed its ban on gay and now transgender scouts.
The sudden shift made front-page headlines when 8-year-old Joey Maldonado from Cub Scout Pack 87 in New Jersey was removed on the basis of gender identity. Born as Jodi, he began identifying as a boy. Everyone knew Joey was born Jodi, but family, friends and neighbors recognized him as he wished to be recognized.
However, his removal from the scouts aroused global attention. At first, the organization hid behind a legal facade and claimed that it does not discriminate on the basis of sexuality, but the issue snowballed beyond control.
The Boy Scouts of America has 2.3 million members. The organization was founded by Robert Baden-Powell in England in 1907. His work led to the creation of the Boy Scouts Manual that still remains in use today. The manual is strongly imbued with a military and Christian spirit.
That influence continues to persist within the Boy Scouts of America today—it gives voice and hope to defenders of traditional rural values and Protestant Christianity. It is no accident that churches sponsor Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs.
The changing climate of sexual mores and an arc of modernity has opened in the United States’ cultural war. It has become a burning issue within the Boy Scouts, its effects varying depending on state and geographical location.
The Southern Baptist Convention threatens to withdraw from the organization because Boy Scouts of America has begun to accept boys who identify as transgender. The opposition from the Southern Baptist Convention is a reflection of the conflict between conservative and progressive, traditionalist and modern values.
In the United States, transgender rights have been facing a lot of opposition. States like North Carolina and Texas, for example, have legislation banning transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological identity.
Transgender identities have made headlines in recent years. Vanity Fair, for example, premiered Caitlin Jenner on its cover. The award-winning Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and the Oscar-winning film The Danish Girl are both examples of media disclosing transgender relationships in an open fashion.
There will be immediate backlash facing the decision of the Boy Scouts from the current administration under President Donald Trump—he certainly will not champion this cause.
Transgender awareness is not the exclusive property of the LGBT population, but a kaleidoscope of cultural, political and religious forces that are supported by strong citizens and organizations.
This awareness may suffer setbacks in the current climate, but the reactions will not last. The embers of an impending cultural war have already been fanned.