The Boy Scouts of America announced that it has opened up its membership policy to allow transgender children who identify as male to enroll in its boys-only programs. Under the new policy, which went in to effect immediately, children may join the Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting programs based on the gender used in their application to the group.
Previously, the organization’s policy only permitted children to join based on the gender listed on their birth certificate. “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,” read a statement on the organization’s website. “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 is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of scouting to the greatest number of youth possible all while remaining true to our core beliefs,” says Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh in a video statement.
“This is another historic day for the Boy Scouts of America,” says Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality. “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. We look forward to seeing more detail clarifying this policy change in the days and weeks ahead.”
One of the largest youth organizations in the U.S., the Boy Scouts of America ended its ban on gay scouts in 2013 and on gay volunteers and staff in 2015, with religious exemption. Local units chartered by faith-based organizations can still discriminate against gay adults, while units chartered by secular organizations must select leaders regardless of sexual orientation.
The Girl Scouts of the USA has had a nondiscrimination policy on sexual orientation and gender identity for several years.