Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and current head of the Boy Scouts of America, told the organization today that its ban on openly gay adults in leadership roles “cannot be sustained” and warned that the strong possibility of court action means that the group should act “sooner rather than later” to address the issue, according to a report from BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner. The BSA changed its policy that excluded gay members in 2013, but the ban on adult leaders has remained in place.
According to a transcript of his remarks, Gates had not planned to deal with the adult ban during his two-year term as president, but, he admitted, “events from the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.” He pointed to the fact that a number of local units are already in open defiance of the ban as an immediate concern. However, instead of pursuing the revocation of those units’ charters, he encouraged the organization to consider an approach in which they and their sponsoring organizations—largely churches—could “establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.”
No official policy changes have been announced as of yet, but Gates’ exhortation that the BSA “deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be” is a strong indication that reforms may be on the way.
Meanwhile, the Girls Scouts continue to lead down the trail to LGBTQ equality. Though the guidance has been in place for a few years now, news broke nationally this week that the organization welcomes transgender girls—a stance that predictably has some Christian parents up in arms. The policy, as presented on the Girl Scouts online FAQ, states “[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.” (Note that while local units are encouraged to follow national guidance, they are technically allowed to make their own decisions regarding trans inclusion.)
The discovery of this policy led the American Family Association to start a petition, which relies on grossly transphobic logic for its argument: “This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle. Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young innocent girls at risk.”
Luckily, the GSA isn’t backing down. In an interview with CNN, Andrea Bastiani Archibald—GSA’s “chief girl expert”—expressed confidence in the organization’s position. “We don’t serve our critics,” she said. “We are proud to serve all girls.”