Last night, the Boy Scouts of America announced a policy change that will allow transgender youth to participate in single-gender Scout programs. You can read about the policy change here. This morning, BSA National Commissioner Charles Dahlquist spoke about the policy change in a interview with Brian and Amanda on KSL news. Here are excerpts from that interview:
Amanda: How did the Boy Scouts of America come to the decision?
Charles: Well, you know, this has been an issue that’s been brewing for some time and all school districts have had a real challenge. It’s been difficult because there’s been no way of dealing with this. The Boy Scouts have traditionally had a number of programs that are single gender because research has shown for a long time that at certain ages, single-gender education in this type of program is beneficial. By our charter, those single-gender programs are for boys. There are other programs for girls. We have a number of programs for young women both in STEM areas and in older youth areas.
[Describing the current legal situation with gender identification] When legislatures began to get involved in it, it was very apparent that no longer [were] the birth certificate or our previous guidelines helpful. So we have gone to the declaration of the parents—what the parents indicate on the application. Which is really no change at all, because that’s what we’ve been doing for years.
Brian: So Charles, it used to require a birth certificate, right? And now I guess it’s just how the parents fill out the application; is that right?
Charles: Actually, in 2016 the guideline for the birth certificate was there because the question was, how do we determine now with all of this? We were just trying to respond in the same way the schools across the country have responded to protect kids on both sides, both the transgender kids and the other kids. And the issue was the birth certificate, although the birth certificate has really never been utilized. Parents have never been required to say, okay, here’s your birth certificate. It’s basically been what has been put on the application anyway. So that birth certificate guideline will be removed and we’ll just go with what has been the practice—putting whatever the parents have put on the application.
Amanda: Are you concerned at all, Charles, with the response from some of the troops that are sponsored by religious organizations, including the LDS Church?
Charles: No. We have been in contact prior to this with our major chartered partners. And that’s one of the things that is characteristic of the Boy Scouts of America. That is, we have chartered partners, including the LDS Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, police organizations, and all kinds of community organizations. We’ve been in contact with them and we’ve indicated that this is up to them. This is up to the local unit to make the determination and to the chartered partners and they will make the determinations.
One of the challenges that we have that we’re working on is logistics. As you can imagine, even though this is just a very small number of kids across the country, we want to make sure that they are welcome but also that they are safe. So in Scout camps and in other areas we are working to make sure that those kids are safe, just like we have worked for decades to make sure Scouts are safe.
You can listen to the full audio of the interview here. The relevant portion goes from 46:30 to 50:31.