Columbus scout leaders react to new Boy Scout transgender policy

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Boys Scouts of America has announced enrollment in its boys-only programs will now be based on the gender a child or parent lists on his application to become a scout, rather than the gender listed on the child's birth certificate.

This new policy essentially abandoning a nearly 100-year practice within the organization and a hope to open new doors as far as gender identity in children.

"Always be kind, courteous, trustworthy, and respectful." These are a few of the core principles associated with the Boys Scouts of America.

Founded in 1910, the organization has coached millions of young boys to be better people. Now, the organization is broadening the window on "who" is allowed to join.

The Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts released a statement on the issue.

"After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organization, we realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient," said Michael Surbaugh, the Scouts' Chief Executive.

The change brings the Boy Scouts in line with other youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts, who have created transgender-friendly membership policies in recent years. Many people in the Valley see this change as a non-issue.

"I don't think there is any good reason not to treat humans how they want to be treated, for the most part as long as it is a reasonable request, and I think the request to identify how you feel is a reasonable request," said resident Joe McCue.

Jody Wilkins, a second year scout leader in Columbus, says the organization has undergone many changes and has remained successful. He feels this change will be no different.

"Our responsibility is to embrace each boy, bring them into the fellowship represented by scouting and really teach them, not only the motto, but the laws and the oath. We have to encourage them to live by those principles, not only when they are at scouting events, but each and every day in their school life, their home life and when they are with other children and other adults," said Wilkins.

The Boy Scouts of America dropped their ban on accepting openly gay boys as members in 2013, and dropped their ban on openly gay scout leaders in 2015.

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