An 8-year-old boy from New Jersey was apparently kicked out of his Cub Scouts troop recently because he is transgender. If that isn’t discrimination, then I don’t know what is. Back in October, Joe Maldonado joined Pack 87 in Secaucus, but was asked to leave a month later.
Joe, who was born as a girl but has identified as a boy for over a year, stated how upset he is about the entire situation:
“I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.”
What makes matters even worse is the fact that the complaints came from parents, not Joe’s fellow Scouts, according to his mother, Kristie Maldonado. Joe explained:
“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here.'”
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the Boy Scouts of America only lifted their ban on gay Scouts and leaders in 2015–and gay youths have only been allowed in the group since 2013. However, spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said in a statement that the organization considers transgender children as a separate issue–as she claims the organization does not discriminate based on gender orientation:
“No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation. Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”
That being said, she did not address Joe’s situation–or even mention if there’s a written policy on transgender participants. The tricky part of this is the fact that the statement said Cub Scout programs are for those identified as boys on their birth certificates. For transgender children, their “official” status on a birth certificate may not have been changed.
Justin Wilson, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, said there are no known previous cases where kids have been rejected over gender identity–and also mentioned that there are at least two transgender boys who are Cub Scouts. He also mentioned not being aware of any situation where Scouts asked for a birth certificate as a condition of membership.
Maldonado said she was not aware that anyone had a problem with her son being a member of the group, which is hosted by Immaculate Conception Church, until she received a call from the Northern New Jersey Council of Boy Scouts. Council executive Eric Chamberlin said the issue involved “our membership standards,” which seems pretty suspect to me.
Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts stated that it would admit transgender children only to its coeducational programs, but not to programs that are for boys only, like the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, for instance.
We hope this situation is rectified soon, not just for Joe’s sake, but for all transgender children to be accepted for who they are–and to be included just like other kids. Because people are people.
Let’s cue to the Depeche Mode song, in case you need reminding (or just want to listen to a cool song):