The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it is lifting its ban on transgender boys joining the organization, saying that it would abandon a policy that determined eligibility by using the the sex listed on birth certificates.
“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” Effie Delimarkos, a spokesperson for the scouting group with more than 2 million members, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
She added that the group’s previous “approach is no longer sufficient” given different community expectations and laws.
Local laws and the old policy may have clashed when a Boy Scouts chapter in New Jersey expelled eight-year-old Joe Maldonado, a transgender boy, last year. As CNN reported, Delimarkos explained at the time Maldonado did not “meet the eligibility requirements to participate in this program.”
But Maldonado planned to file a discrimination complaint with the state’s Department of Law and Public Safety’s Civil Rights, the Jersey Journal reported Friday. Maldonado’s complaint alleged the group violated a state law that bars discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity.
“While we offer a number of programs that serve all youth, Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys. 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,” Delimarkos said in explaining the thinking behind the new policy. “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.”
After a child is registered, she added, “our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”