The move reverses the organization’s previous policy that only admitted children based on the gender listed on their birth certificate. The announcement comes on the heels of a story where Joe Maldonado, an 8-year-old boy from Secaucus, New Jersey, was banned from his Cub Scout troop because he was transgender.
“..WE REALIZE THAT REFERRING TO BIRTH CERTIFICATES AS THE REFERENCE POINT IS NO LONGER SUFFICIENT.”
“Scouting is about one thing, to prepare young people for life with the goal of instilling in them skills that develop character and leadership.” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh in a video statement. “After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organization, we realize that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient.”
Joe Maldonado’s mother, Kristie, said she had mixed emotions after a Boy Scouts of America representative called to inform her that the organization will allow her son to rejoin his troop. She said she would like her son to rejoin, but only if the scout leader who made the previous decision leaves. “I’m so grateful. I really am that they’re accepting and that there won’t be any issues. They (other transgender kids) won’t have to go through what my son went through,” Maldonado told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
This is not the first time the Boy Scouts have been under fire for not allowing LGBT children to enroll in their programs. They only started to allow openly gay youths to enroll three years ago and lifted their ban on gay scout leaders in 2015.
The Girls Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, has been allowing transgender girls to enroll for years. Just last week in Europe, the Girl Guides, Brownie and Rainbows lifted a 107-year-old policy to allow transgender girls to enroll.