The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has officially reversed its century-old policy by announcing it will begin accepting transgender boys.
“Starting today (Jan. 30th), we will accept and register
youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based
on the gender identity indicated on the application.”
- Effie Delimarkos, BSA Communications Director
The Boy Scouts of America, which was founded on February 8, 1910, prides itself on providing programs for youth that build character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness. It is one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S. with nearly 2.3 million members between the ages of 7-21 and roughly 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the country.
9-year-old Joe Maldonado has become the first openly transgender member of the organization by joining Pack 20 in Maplewood just one week after its policy change, but that didn’t come without a struggle. The New Jersey native, then 8 years old, was kicked out of the Cub Scout pack in November just weeks after joining Pack 87 in Secaucus. Joe, who identified as Jodi until two years ago, told CNN, “I felt very upset, but then angry because it’s just not fair that because I was born a girl they won’t let me in.” Kristie, Joe’s mother, says informed the chapter that her son was transgender before he was registered but was later told that the Scouts policy is to “go by birth certificate and what you’re born with.” She told Inside Edition that, “No child should be made to feel different,” after her son told her the policy was “stupid” and “not right.”
As opposed to the national Girl Scouts organization (not affiliated with BSA) that has accepted transgender members for years, the Boy Scouts are used to being the center of controversy on LGBTQ+ issues. The BSA won a Supreme Court case upholding their rights to ban gay members in 2000, but, after heated debate, they voted to lift that ban in 2013 after gay rights advocates gathered petitions with more than 1.8 million signatures in support. The Scouts also lifted their ban on gay adult leaders in July 2015 after its then-president and former U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, called the ban “no longer sustainable” amid several lawsuits filed against the policy on grounds of discrimination.
The battle against the Boy Scouts and its stance against LGBTQ+ rights isn’t completely over as they still allow individual troops to set their own policy in regards to gay adult leaders despite the removal of the ban from an overall standpoint. However, we can certainly be proud of little Joe Maldonado for breaking barriers and being such a strong warrior through the process.
“I am accepted…This is so fun; I’m so proud!”
- Joe after attending his first Cub meeting back with the Scouts.