What history tells us about Boy Scouts and inclusion

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tags: LGBT, Boy Scouts



In the last two decades, a tense debate has risen over membership policies of the Boy Scouts of America. The organization moved to allow openly gay Scouts in 2013 and troop leaders in 2015. And just this year, a new transgender membership policy drew supporters and critics alike, while also renewing discussion over girls joining the ranks.

At the core of this membership debate lies the heritage and values of an organization whose roots stretch back to 1910. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded to train young men and boys in modern character, work, and citizenship. New child labor laws and compulsory schooling were removing adolescents from the paid work force and public community spaces. As a result, early Scouting became a sort of apprenticeship, giving boys the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing world.

Thus, the debate over membership inclusion highlights a fundamental problem of both identity and history: Which side can claim the mantle of Scout heritage and values?




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