Boy Scouts of America faces calls to let girls sign up as trans boys join its ranks
The Boy Scouts of America is facing calls to let girls join its ranks in the aftermath of changing its policy to allow trans boys to join.
Previously, the BSA had checked the birth certificate of each applicant.
Now it faces renewed calls from the National Organisation for Women (NOW) to allow girls to join up as Scouts.
NOW issued a statement saying it was inspired by a 15-year-old New York City girl’s wishes to join the BSA to follow her brother’s footsteps.
“Women can now hold all combat roles in the military, and women have broken many glass ceilings at the top levels of government, business, academia and entertainment,” said the President of NOW, Terry O’Neill.
“It’s long past due that girls have equal opportunities in Scouting.”
Responding, the BSA’s Communications director Effie Delimarkos pointed to the organisation’s co-ed programmes, and said they would continue to be an important part of the BSA’s work.
“We’re certainly committed to finding program options that work for the entire family – it’s an area we continue to evaluate,” Delimarkos said.
“But we also feel that the benefit of a single-gender program is an important priority.”
The organisation said the decision to allow trans boys was based on various states and communities changing the way legal gender is defined.
The decision came after an eight year old boy and his family announced last week that they were suing the New Jersey Boy Scouts’ Council after he was kicked out of the troop for his gender identity.
Joe Maldonado and his mother Kristie are claiming that the council violated state law against discrimination.
The young boy, who has identified as a boy since 2, was accepted into the scouts in October but kicked out the following month after parents allegedly complained about his trans status.
Mrs Maldonado had been asked to prove her son was a boy in a phone call from the group.
Parents of other children in the group had complained that there was a trans child in the class. Following the complaints Scout officials took the decision to ban the child.
Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman for Boy Scouts of America, said that Joe was kicked out because he did not “meet eligibility requirements”.
“The BSA grants youth membership to Cub Scout to boys in the first through fifth grades, or 7 to 10 years of age,” she said. “If needed we defer to the information provided for an individual’s birth certificate and their biological sex.”
She added that scouting “teaches its youth members and adult leaders to be respectful of other people and individual beliefs.”
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The Boy Scouts have previously said they would allow trans children to join coeducational programmes, but gender specific programmes such as the Cub and Boy scouts would be off limits.
“Their child does not meet the eligibility requirements to participate in this programme, so Boy Scouts of America (BSA) leadership reached out to the family to inform them and share information on alternative programmes,” Delimkarkos added.
Kristie Maldonado said: “I was in shock, upset. The kids didn’t have a problem it was all his friends, he was having fun.
“Not one of the kids said, “You don’t belong here,’” she added.
“I don’t know, it’s just not fair,” Joe said. “It made me mad. 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.”