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Boy, 9, has summer camp scholarship rejected over trans status

Emma Powys Maurice July 9, 2019

"How do you tell a nine-year-old who's accepted in every other aspect of their life, in their house and in their school, that they can't go to camp?" (Pexels)

A nine-year-old transgender boy who received a $400 summer camp scholarship was told he could not attend as staff “would not be capable of accommodating transgender campers.”

According to local reports, the boy, who is not identified, is in foster care and received a scholarship from the Arizona Friends of Foster Care and the families Court Appointed Special Advocate.

He had hoped to spend the summer at Tonto Creek Camp in Payson, Arizona, until his foster mother was told that the one member of staff who had the “degree” necessary for a transgender child to attend would not be available.

She told ABC Arizona: “We get an email from the chief executive officer saying sorry he’s not able to attend anymore and that the camp staff that they had, that has a degree in this, is no longer able to attend so they would be refunding us.”

She says the only request they made was that he would be able to stay in the boys’ tents and use a private bathroom or a bathroom with a curtain. The camp at first offered to keep the boy in a completely separate tent from everyone else attending, but his foster mother did not feel comfortable with this.

How do you tell a nine-year-old who’s accepted in every other aspect of their life, in their house and in their school, that they can’t go to camp?

The boy is out at school, where he’s reportedly educated his classmates and teachers about being transgender. “He was born female identified but feels in his brain and his heart that he is a boy,” his foster mother said.

“My child was looking forward to doing archery and kayaking and hanging out with other kids.

“How do you tell a nine-year-old who’s accepted in every other aspect of their life, in their house and in their school, that they can’t go to camp?”

Camp backtracks after media attention

The camp, which promotes itself as inclusive with a focus on anti bullying, reportedly tried to resolve the matter after being contacted by the media — but the boy’s mother felt the damage had already been done.

“To me the motivation seems like they just want to stay out of the light, out of the press,” she said. “We just don’t feel safe leaving him there now.”

In a statement to ABC News, the camp’s CEO Tom Fraker said: “This year we believed we were ready to accommodate transgender campers. We recently learned as we planned for our camps that in order to fully accommodate transgender youth, we would need additional staff training for all our camp counsellors.

“Therefore we felt that at this time, we would not be capable of accommodating transgender campers to the best of our ability for both the specific camper and the other campers in attendance. We have this training for all staff by next summer camp season.”

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