The Boy Scouts of America announced this past Monday that it is now allowing transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs. It’s about time, right? The organization previously had a policy where they would only enroll kids based on the gender listed on a child’s birth certificate. For a child who is transgender, this is significant, as their birth certificate may not actually reflect their actual gender.
The change was spurred by a recent case in Secaucus, New Jersey, where an 8-year-old boy had been asked to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. The Boy Scouts of America released a statement on Monday:
“For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. 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.”
Of course, while this news is definitely a progressive and very necessary change if we want to actually be a more inclusive society, it doesn’t come without worry for some of the parents involved. For instance, Kristie Maldonado, the mother of the 8-year-old boy in New Jersey, said she would only re-enroll her son Joe if the scout leader who made the previous decision leaves. She said:
“I’m so grateful. I really am that they’re accepting and that there won’t be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won’t have to go through what my son went through. It’s a big change for everybody that all are accepted now … I’m so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I’m still angry.”
Zach Wahls, co-founder of the groups Scouts for Equality, is proud of this “step forward,” stating:
“The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution. We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado — the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy — and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right. We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing.”
In 2015, the Boy Scouts of America leaders reversed the ban on gay troop leaders, and in 2013, allowed openly gay youth as scouts. The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has already been accepting transgender members for several years.