'I'm way more angry than sad.'
In 2016, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado was kicked out of the local Boy Scout troop in New Jersey. The reason: Joe is transgender — observed to be female at birth, he identifies as a boy.
“I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. 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,” Joe told The Record, a news outlet in his home state (Victor, 2016).
The case sparked a nationwide conversation about inclusion in one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations. Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was originally founded in 1910 to promote responsibility in boys. Allegations of sexual abuse and exclusion have plagued the organization over the years. But, as the debate on more inclusive policies took hold across the country, the Boy Scouts of America slowly began to extend its welcome. In 2013, the organization ended its ban on openly gay youths, and in 2015, it agreed to welcome openly gay adult scout leaders.
In the wake of Joe’s case, the Boy Scouts initially declined to amend its policy to include transgender youths, arguing that Joe “did not meet the eligibility requirements to participate” (Victor, 2016). Then, in 2017, the organization suddenly reversed course, announcing it would allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys-only programs.
Boy Scouts CEO Michael Surbaugh announced the shift in policy, which reflects recent changes in the perception and understanding of gender: “We realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient” (BSA, 2017).
Read about the transgender Cub Scout that brought about the policy change in this article from the New York Times.
Check out the video announcement of the new policy by BSA executive Michael Surbaugh in this 2017 press release.
Victor, D. (2016, December 30). Cub Scouts kick out transgender boy in New Jersey. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/us/cub-scouts-transgender.html
Boy Scouts of America (2017, January 30). BSA addresses gender identity [Press release]. https://www.scoutingnewsroom.org/press-releases/bsa-addresses-gender-identity/