The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reconsiders ban on gay youths
Part 2: Trail Life member restrictions (Cont'd).
Is it a threat to the Boy Scouts of America?
Restrictions on membership (Cont'd):
3. Their gender identity: The hypothalamus is a tiny structure just above each person's brain stem; it is roughly the size of an almond. 1 It contains neuron circuitry which performs a variety of functions. One function determines a person's gender identity.
According to Wikipedia:
Gender identity is a person's private sense, and subjective experience, of their own gender. This is generally described as one's private sense of being a man or a woman. 2
I Savic et al.. of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. wrote:
"... since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently." 3
In essence, a small percentage of individuals are often said to have a female body and a male brain, or vice-versa. They are transgender. No amount of
therapy, or counseling can alter the gender that they perceive themselves to be. Many transgender persons choose to take hormones and undergo sexual reassignment therapy in order to make their body agree more closely with their gender identity.
Many of the parents who will send their children to Trail Life USA will be religious conservatives who will prefer the group because of its anti-gay and pro-Christian beliefs and policies. Among religious conservatives, men and women are often restricted to specific roles in the family, and within the faith group. They often reject the concept of gender ambiguity and will thus welcome a youth organization that excludes "biologically female" youth who identify themselves as male.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: They affirm that:
"... any sexual activity outside the context of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful before God and therefore inconsistent with the values and principles of the program.
Within these limits, we grant membership to adults and youth who do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind, or engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the program."
RELIGION: Their proposed membership standards for youth state that:
"While the program is undergirded by Biblical values and unapologetically reflects a Christian worldview, there is also a clearly defined inclusion policy for youth. Accordingly, all boys are welcome irrespective of religion, race, national origin or socio-economic status.
At first glance, their inclusion of youth of all religions would seem to imply that they will admit boys who are Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Unitarian-Universalist, Wiccan, Zoroastrian, etc. who generally do not believe in the existence of a single male deity.
However, their provisional statement of faith and values for adults 4 require leaders to sign a statement of faith acknowledging that they believe:
- In the Christian Trinity.
- That God created the universe.
That the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. Old and New Testaments are the inspired and authoritative Word of God.
- That sexual activity is to be restricted to within a marriage that is the union of one woman and one man.
We were unable to contact Trail Life USA to clear up some of the ambiguities in their proposed membership standards and determine exactly which adult and youth members they will accept, and whom they will exclude.
Does Trail Life USA pose a threat to the Boy Scouts of America?
Deron Smith, a BSA spokesperson, minimizes the threat. He noted that 99% of the BSA's 116,000 units which include 2.6 million youth members "remain committed" to the BSA. He notes that in the "very rare instance" when a chartered organization -- typically a church -- has decided to close down a BSA troop, other organizations have stepped in to charter them, so that the troops themselves continue without interruption.
However, these observations were made at a time before 2014-JAN-01 when Trail Life USA was in full operation. As TLU expands, they may well pose a growing threat to the BSA's membership size. Counteracting that trend will be the gradual shift towards secularism in the U.S., the growing rate at which older teens and young adults are leaving evangelical Christian churches, and the increasing acceptance of equal rights for sexual minorities throughout the U.S.
According to the Family Research Council:
"On [2014-] January 1, Trail Life formally launched with more than 500 troops in 42 states."
Assuming that the average troop size is 22.4 members -- the same as that of the Boy Scouts of America -- then the number of youth members of Trail Life is about 11,200 members. This is about 0.4% of the size of the BSA. They are obviously not a major threat to the BSA in early 2014. However, both organizaions will be in competition for youth members in the future.
Leaders of Trail Life include:
"Eagle Scout John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family Policy Council 5 and long-time Scout executive Rob Greene."
The Family Research Council stated:
"FRC is excited to be supporting a new youth movement that stands unequivocally for biblical teaching on human sexuality, is grounded firmly in Scripture, and offers America's young males the opportunity of gaining the skills, and shaping the character, that build boys into young men and future leaders. With our friends in American Heritage Girls, we look forward to watching how God uses Trail Life in many lives. As both an outdoors and character-forming ministry and as outreach to boys who need healthy male influences, I encourage you to check out Trail Life and see what troops are near you -- and how you might begin one yourself!" 6
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Hypothalamus," Wikipedia, as on 2013-SEP-03, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
"Gender Identity," Wikipedia, as on 2013-SEP-10, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
I Savic, et al., "Sexual differentiation of the human brain in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation," PubMed, 2010, at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
"A provisional statement of Faith and Values, Trail Life USA, at: http://www.traillifeusa.com/
Florida Family Policy Council's home page is at: http://flfamily.org/
Tony Perkins, "Washington Update," Family Research Council, 2014-JAN-10, at: http://www.frc.org/
Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Original posting: 2013-SEP-13
Latest updated: 2014-JAN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson