The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will allow girls who ‘identify’ as boys to enrol in its boys-only programmes for the first time, following a policy change.
On Monday, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh announced that the group will now decide on entry based on “gender identity”.
The move comes shortly after the UK’s Girlguiding group said it would allow men who identify as women to become leaders.
A statement on the BSA website highlights that for more than 100 years the group has “deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs”.
It continues: “However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.
“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.”
The statement also said that the BSA will strive to ‘remain true to our core values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law’.
The Scout Oath requires adherents to “do my duty to God” and remain “morally straight”.
The move is considered to be the biggest policy shift since the BSA changed its rules on homosexual staff.
In July 2015, it lifted a blanket ban on gay men becoming troop leaders and employees.
Last month, the UK’s Girlguiding group announced that transsexual men will be allowed to become leaders, despite safeguarding fears.
New regulations say it would be unlawful to tell parents if their daughter is being looked after by a man identifying as a woman on overnight excursions.
Reacting to the news, a spokesman for The Christian Institute said the policy change was a “real worry”.
And Amanda Gracey, whose daughter recently joined Rainbows – a Girlguiding group for girls aged from five to seven – said: “It’s shocking that if there is a man who believes he is a woman leading the group, it is forbidden that parents should be informed, even on residential trips.”