Boy Scouts of America removes ban on transgender members

Several months after Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus removed a transgender boy, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado, from their group, the Boy Scouts have said they will accept transgender children into their group.“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,” the organization said in a press release Monday. “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. Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”This week, a statewide group responded. “Garden State Equality is thrilled with the decision that will impact trans boys across the country who wanted to participate in the Boy Scouts of America,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality, a New Jersey LBGTQ advocacy group that has started a petition to have Joe reinstated.Though surprised by the ruling, Fuscarino said he believed it was inevitable. “When James Dale filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay scouts, that took decades for them to reverse their decision,” he said. “We’re just really pleased and honestly surprised that the Boy Scouts of America acted so quickly, and did the right thing in this situation by allowing trans scouts. We’re happy that thousands of people took action and signed the petition. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Boy Scouts of America felt that pressure.”Though he kept the family’s plans after the ruling confidential, Fuscarino said he’s spoken with Joe and his mother about it. Joe is “pleased” by the outcome. “I hope that he will be able to enjoy life the way that young boys do, by playing with his friends and winning some basketball games,” he said.The historic decision comes four years after the Scouts removed their longtime ban on gay members, and two years after they removed their ban on gay scout leaders.Watch future issues for more information. × read more