For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America used gender listed on birth certificates to determine eligibility, but that all changed once an eight-year-old transgender boy from New Jersey took a stand.
Last year, Joe Maldonado was asked to the leave the Boys Scouts a month after he registered when troop leaders found out he was transgender. He was born female by the name of Jodi.
“I like to go camping, I like to do science experiments, we eat cupcakes … it was fun but they ruined it,” he told CBS News.
His mother Kristie Maldonado brought the organization to court.
And on Monday, the Boy Scouts of America said they will begin accepting transgender boys, reversing a century-old stance.
“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,” Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.
“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.”
Joe, who is now nine, has identified as a boy for almost two years. Although he doesn’t know anymore if he’ll rejoin the Boys Scouts, he’s received letters of support from people around the world thanking him for taking his stance.
“I took a couple of years; I didn’t realize it,” Joe said. His mother says the Boys Scouts’ decision to remove her son from the group made him feel different and excluded. She wanted to make sure he knew the organization made a mistake and hopes Joe’s story will help others who might be transitioning.
“I’m so grateful. I really am that they’re accepting and that there won’t be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won’t have to go through what my son went through,” Kristie Maldonado said on Monday.
“It’s a big change for everybody that all are accepted now … I’m so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I’m still angry.”
— With files from the Associated Press.