Jan. 31 (UPI) — Two years after a controversial decision to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to join the Boy Scouts of America, the organization announced Monday it will do the same for transgender young people as well.
The Boy Scouts of America will allow transgender youths to join local troops, the national organization announced Monday, ending a 100-year-old practice of determining eligibility for the group based on the gender listed on a birth certificate, bringing it into line with other youth-oriented groups in the country.
Although Boy Scouts leadership did not say so, some think the change is connected to the protests of an 8-year-old transgender boy in New Jersey who was asked to leave the organization because he is transgender.
“We’ve taken the opportunity to evaluate and update our approach,” Michael Surbaugh, chief Scout executive, said in a video statement. “I hope you’ll join with me in embracing the opportunity to bring Scouting to more families and children who can benefit from what our organization has to offer.”
The change comes after what Surbaugh said was weeks of deliberations on how to handle the issue properly — advocates applauded the Boy Scouts for its decision about transgender boys since the New Jersey boy, Joe Maldonado, was kicked out.
In the past, the organization has been criticized for how it handled the inclusion of gay Scouts three years ago and gay troop leaders and employees in 2015, neither of which had previously been permitted to join the Boy Scouts openly.
“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” the organization said in a press release. “The BSA is committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family, and 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 values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.”