‘Boy Scout Handbook,’ 1962 (Envisioning the American Dream)
The Boy Scouts of America will soon undergo a momentous change: The organization will begin to allow gay adults to serve as troop leaders. This follows a sea change of public opinion, and several years of declining Boys Scouts membership. Nothing on paper has been been implemented yet, but the change is expected to be officially announced soon.
However, there is a catch: Troops backed by religious institutions will be able to deny troop leaders on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Boys Scouts are conscious that many members come from within religious folds, and feel those world views must be honored, respected and given a place at the table.
Here’s some context on how long it’s taken the organization to begin embracing gay participants: The Boy Scouts of America were founded in 1910. Gay troop members have been allowed within the organization only since 2013 (a mere two years ago!).
It’ll be interesting to me to see whether we’ll see an upsurge in gay leaders (either statistically or self-reported), and how long it will take to become noticeable. I’m also curious about how this will effect the Boy Scouts’ overall membership, since the organization will be seen as a (somewhat) more inclusive space. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if they began rebranding as such.)
John Jolie-Pitt (Refinery 29)
Happy 2015! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday season.
Now, let’s get back to business. The business of sex and numbers.
Last month, actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stepped out with their family for the premiere of Jolie’s new film (and directorial debut) “Unbroken.” Many media outlets commented on their eight-year-old daughter Shiloh wearing a tux to the event. Shiloh has been asked to be referred to as “John” and self-identifies as a boy. (Wonderfully supportive parents Jolie and Pitt have readily obliged.)
John has not publicly identified himself as transgender, and his parents have not identified him as such either.
But how many children might identify as, or fit the label of, transgender?
At the moment, there’s really no hard data answering this question. Either researchers aren’t delving into this topic, or they might not be using the term “transgender” when asking a child to self-identify.
But gender identity tends to be fixed early in life. A PDF on children’s transgender identity for parents from Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) San Francisco notes the following:
“Most people have a sense of their gender identity between ages two and four. If your child expresses a transgender identity since early childhood, it is unlikely they will change their mind as they age. Their sense of themselves will only deepen.”
This makes sense as it relates to John, as Jolie observing that he “wants to be a boy” in a 2010 “Vanity Fair” interview.
It’ll be interesting to watch John Jolie-Pitt grow up and how his gender identity changes or stays the same. No matter which happens, it’s great to see a notable example of a supportive family surrounding him. Hopefully, it’ll change and open some minds.