On Monday, The Boy Scouts of America announced that they will no longer be banning transgender boys from entering their program, lifting a century-old policy of exclusion. Moving forward, the program will base admission off of the gender listed by the child or parent on the application, rather than the sex listed on the child’s birth certificate, as was the practice previously.
The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement, announcing “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.”
This shift in policy follows a recent case in which an eight-year-old transgender boy, Joe Maldonado, from New Jersey was kicked out from his Cub Scout group one month after joining. While his peers and friends were accepting of his gender identity, a number of parents complained to the Boy Scouts of America officials and had him removed, according to the New York Times.
In comparison, Girl Scouts of the USA handles admission of transgender girls on a case-by-case basis”, so long as “the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.”
The Boy Scout’s move to admit transgender boys follows their 2013 decision to admit openly gay children into the program. Prior to 2015, openly gay adults and parents were also unable to participate in Boy Scouts as troop leaders.
Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit organization founded to push Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to embody inclusivity and equality for its members, supported the recent policy change. Justin Wilson, the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, stated that although the “struggle for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual members lasted over 37 years….in stark contrast, a month after the BSA first removed a transgender boy from the program, it has reversed the policy that led to his expulsion.” Wilson called this action “remarkable,” as it displayed the BSA’s willingness to encourage diversity and inclusion amongst its troops.
LGBTQ advocates nationwide are commending the Boy’s Scouts of America’s new standards. Members of the community hope to see the Boy’s Scouts take the next steps in ensuring the policy is embodied in practice, and the matter is approached with healthy conversation and education, and ultimately all members of the program are embraced wholeheartedly.
Media Resources: The Washington Blade 1/30/17, Boy Scouts of America Newsroom 1/30/17, The New York Times 12/30/16, Girl Scouts of the USA FAQ, The New York Times 5/23/13, The New York Times 1/31/17, NBC News 1/31/17; Scouts for Equality 1/31/17