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Which troop to join?

We have a youth who wants to join Scouts. They are non-binary. We have both a boys’ and a girls’ troop. Do we let them join whichever troop they feel most comfortable with?

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I don’t see a strong argument either way, to be honest. I’m not aware of any national policies one way or the other. I’d check with your council and chartering org to see if they have any specific policies that apply. Yet another reason I’d like to see chartering organizations get the option to host coed units at the Scouts BSA level.

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The one thing I can see them having an issue with is when we go camping and sleeping arrangements. We usually go with both units because we share a gear trailer and tents, etc. Obviously, right now we are restricted with Covid anyway.

That’s one of the reasons to figure out what the potential issues are on the front end. As much as I’d personally like every unit to be able to best serve every scout, the truth is that some units are better fits for any particular scout than another, based on many factors including simple ones like what the unit does, when they meet, etc. My son checked out three different units before settling on our current troop when he bridged from a pack. I would hope that things like gender identity weren’t an issue, but I live in the real world and know that for some folks it is. I’d rather see a scout go to another unit and be happier there than be in mine and unhappy with their scouting experience, whatever the reason for their unit selection.

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@CharleyHamilton hit the nail on the head. The single most important thing is helping this young person find the troop where they feel most comfortable and accepted, so they have the opportunity to have the experiences other Scouts get to have.

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As a thought, I would invite them to participate as guests of the units before signing them up. Just fill out an application and keep it on file incase of injury or mishap for CYA purposes. You will get a feel to how welcoming all parties will be. As @CharleyHamilton said, the world we live in complex world and this is just a thought to test the waters. I think this is good for any potential Scout to take a “free trial” as I have been a proponent of.

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I’m glad to see this question being asked. I’m aware of the difficulties it is presenting our leaders, trying to make scouting accessible to these youths, with national policies hindering that effort. I’m also really glad to hear that youth are seeking scouting as a place where they can be included. We should strive to make scouting as inclusive as possible, and question what purposes are really being served when we separate youth.

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As already said I agree that finding a Troop that will be the best fit with acceptance is the biggest factor. For Binary Trans it is a bit more straightforward on presented gender, For Non-Binary an accepting bio gender matched Troop could make some things easier logistically.

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Not needed. The insurance clearly covers “those not registered, but participating with potential interest to join”. Not the exact wording, but very close. Permission slip and health form A&B would be good CYA type of things as that is required to all participating (member or not).

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I would suggest you call your DE and discuss the issue. Before it was opened to girls BSA had an official policy defining a boy as one born to the gender. Regardless of our personal beliefs - BSA as an organization has a right to their policies.

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I agree with your direction that this is one to discuss with the DE and not just take online advice.

The BSA policy on gender identity was set in 2017, just before girls. It is my understanding one can join the unit they identify with/live as. Again, such a complex and controversial topic requires DE involvement.

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Evidently it depends on which one the scout marks. Not sure what to do when they don’t choose a side (which is a distinct possibility).

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That is the spot where I don’t know the official guidance. I have been told that the Scout must pick, I do not know if that is an authoritative or current answer. I don’t often think we MUST go to DE’s often, but this is “complex” enough to warrant a DE’s involvement and help.

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Make sure you consult with the chartered organization. They might also have policies that need to be followed.

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https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/got-questions/ agrees with advice to seek help from council and provides way to ask national. Please seek both national and council advice on this matter.

Your goal is to follow rules in “scouting barriers to abuse” and prevent there from being a future issue to this specific youth or the other members of that unit. They are very clear on same sex bunking together. Regardless of how individuals identify it could be an issue for other scouts as their body matures.

It appears national needs to readdress this topic now that girls have joined and to handle non-binary. 2017 appears to be the last time it’s been addressed and guide to safe scouting does not cover topic well.
For example https://www.nccs-bsa.org/pdf/letters/2017.1.30FAQ.pdf

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The simple answer is yes. Your scout will feel the most comfortable with the troop that does the best job accepting them.

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We recently had this question come up. In 2017 BSA national approved a transgender girl who identifies as boy can register in a boy troop by parents as a boy where states had legislation that supported transgender rights. The family choose a chartering organization whose linked boy and girl troops worked closely together and had male and female fully trained adults present at all meetings and trips. Their transgender son joined the boy troop and their daughter registered with the girl troop. It is important to note, Safe Scouting and Youth Protection guidelines still need to be adhered to regarding appropriate two deep leadership, the buddy system, tenting, showers, etc… Parents should visit a number of troops and pick one that has adequate volunteer support to meet the appropriate two deep leadership guidelines. It is my understanding that if a female who identifies as a boy registers with a boy troop a fully trained female adult and one other fully trained adult need to be present at all times. Some boy units simply do not have the female leadership to provide this type of coverage meaning that unit would not be a match. BSA recommends questions regarding transgender youth be discussed with the Council Executive who is versed in this topic.

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First stop is Chartered Org. See how they feel about. They have the right to restrict membership at unit level.

This is a slippery slope. there are a range of issues. My first thought would be for the kid to join a girl troop. Not knowing the actual sex of the kid, following the girl rules of at least one female leader present will protect everyone.

There is also a choice kid needs to make, Scouts, BSA is NOT Co-ED. Crew may be the better choice. However you also did not say how old the potential scout was.

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Why not let the youth and the unit decide, instead of making that decision for them? Putting them in a unit that doesn’t align with their gender identity is certainly not the way to make them feel welcome in Scouting.

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it correct that only religious-sponsored units can impose restrictions on non-binary people? If the unit is a secular they are not allow to impose restrictions. Is the Charter Org a religious sponsor or secular? If it is religious does it have policies towards non-binary individuals?

Wherever this child ends up I hope it is a happy relationship.