What does Boy Scouts of America accepting transgender youth mean for Austin scouts?

On Monday, Boy Scouts of America announced it will allow troops to accept transgender children. 

Charles Mead, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Boy Scouts of America, Capitol Area Council, in Austin, Texas, announces that the Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board vote ratifified the nationwide adult policy on Monday, July 27, 2015. The change approved by 79% of the board ended its nationwide ban on openly gay adult leaders.

Charles Mead, director of marketing andpublic relations for the Capitol Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. American-Statesman 2015

Its statement:

“For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.

Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.  Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”

So, what does that mean locally? We asked Charles Mead, director of marketing and public relations for the Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, what the reaction has been and what this means on a practical level of how the policy will be implemented.

He’s received less than five inquiries from volunteers about this, he says, and those that have called or emailed have wanted to know how to incorporate the new policy. Meade says the local council is looking for more direction from Boy Scouts of America about how to work with transgender youth.

The big question is how will Boy Scouts handles sleeping arrangements on campouts and other overnights? “The Boy Scouts of America’s youth protection policy requires separate sleeping arrangements for male and female youth,” Meade writes in an email. “BSA is currently talking with other youth organizations about best practices for serving transgender youth in this regard.”

Girl Scouts officially welcomed transgender youth in 2015. Lolis Garcia-Baab, director of marketing and communications at Girl Scouts of Central Texas, says, “We accept girls that are socially recognized as such by their families and their school. With 17,000 girls there is probably a transgender girl but we don’t check these kinds of things.” She does remember a girl in an older troop who was transgender and accepted by her troop, but ultimately decided to drop out of Girl Scouts. “If it comes to our attention, we handle it on a case-by-case basis with the welfare of the girls and the troop in mind and with the utmost discretion.”

As far as sleeping arrangements, Girl Scouts would follow the policy it has with any male adult member, which requires separate sleeping and bathroom arrangements, Garcia-Baab says.

Garcia-Baab says Girl Scouts of Central Texas hasn’t had members voice any concern about transgender youth lately.