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Religious Tolerance logo

About the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)

2017-JAN: The BSA Now Welcomes
Transgender boys as Members.

Part 7

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay

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Background:

Joe Maldonado, 8, lives in Secaucus, New Jersey. He is a transgender child. As a newborn, he was identified as a girl and was given the name Jodi. This was recorded on his birth certificate. However, for the past two years, he has identified as a boy.

He joined the local cub scout pack, Pack 87 in Secaucus. He enjoyed going to meetings. However, he was told in 2016-NOV that he was no longer welcome to attend. The reason given was that the Boy Scouts identify each member's gender by the gender information appearing on their birth certificate. Thus, they regard Joe to be a girl. The cub pack is for boys only. His mother was referred to co-ed youth groups in their city where Joe might be welcome.

Joe told CNN:

"I felt very upset but then very angry because it's just not fair that because I was born a girl they won't let me in ... Now I'm never going there again. Maybe to another Boy Scouts, but not that one. They kicked me out when I was having so much fun, and they ruined it." 1

Effie Delimarkos, director of communications for the Boy Scouts of America, said that Joe:

"... does not meet the eligibility requirements to participate in this program. ... [Boy Scouts of America] defer to the information provided for an individual's birth certificate and their biological sex"[in determining who can join].

An article in CNN said that Girl Scouts of the USA handle transgender members differently. Their policy states that:

"... if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."

During late 2017-JAN, His mother, Kristie Maldonado filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey Boy Scouts' Council, claiming that rejecting her son violates the state law against discrimination. 2

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Sarah McBride of the Human Rights Campaign  -- a leading LGBT rights national organization -- criticized the Boy Scouts. She suggested that local chapters be allowed to follow the Girl Scouts' policy. She said:

"To deny a young transgender person opportunities granted to their peers is harmful and mean-spirited. It reinforces bullying and prejudice towards young people." 1

Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]

On the order of 0.6% of adults are transgender. The percentage of young children who are transgender like Joe is much larger because, for many children, being transgender is a passing experience that fades over time. Many eventually readopt their birth-identified gender -- usually before or during puberty. However, some transgender children are unable to change their gender identity to match their biological gender for the rest of their life.

There are two schools of thought on transgender persons:

  • Religious and social conservatives frequently regard transgender individuals as "gender confused." They are are regarded as having a mental condition that requires counseling and therapy to correct. Most conservatives feel that a person's gender can be identified before birth, using ultrasound instruments. This gender is later confirmed at birth and remains unchanged for the rest of their life. In Joe's case, they regard him to be female; they refer to him by his birth name, and use female personal pronouns. Conservatives frequently blame poor parenting, the media, and sex-ed classes as putting ideas about gender into children's head and manipulating them into believing that their gender has actually changed.

  • Religious and social liberals, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual community (LGBT) generally accept that some children identify as transgender as young as three years-of-age, and that some retain this identity for the rest of their life. It is not something that they choose; their brain forces their gender on them.

Researchers have found that transgender persons have structures in their brain that are typical of the gender opposite to their birth identified gender. These findings agree with the belief of many transgender persons who describe themselves as having a male brain trapped in a female body or vice-versa. Also, the brains of transgender persons generally react to certain noises and chemicals in a way opposite to their birth-identified gender.

Garden State Equality is the largest pro-LGBT civil rights organization in New Jersey. They had been working with Joe's mother, Kristie Maldonado and his school to support his transition from female to male. An article on their web site states:

"Garden State Equality believes that the Boy Scouts of America’s policy on accepting gay youth should extend to transgender youth. We also believe that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which protects New Jerseyans from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression should extend to this case." 3

The group has written a petition that they are sending to the Boy Scouts of America. It states:

"Boy Scouts of America: I stand with Cub Scout Joe Maldonado and his family. The Boy Scouts should accept transgender boys as boys, and treat Joe and other transgender kids with the respect all children deserve." 3

As of 2017-FEB-13, their petition had accumulated 2,974 signatures.

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2016-JAN-30: Boy Scouts of America change their policy towards transgender children:

The BSA announced a change in their policy stating:

"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. 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.  Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child." 4

On JAN-31, Michael Surbaugh, the BSA's chief executive, announced the group's new policy on You Tube:

  5

Anthony Brian Logan posted a video on You Tube on the same day as the Surbaugh's announcement. 6 It is titled: "Boy Scouts of America have died; now accepting transgender boys." He commented:

"If girls are allowed to dress as boys and become Boy Scouts, then what is the Boy Scouts really? Why have the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts if boys and girls are allowed to join one and eventually both? Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts center around many of them same things but at the same time, they center around different things. Boy Scouts don’t sell the cookies. Boy Scouts focus on things that will shape them into well-rounded men as adults. Same goes for the girls, who focus on things that will make them well-rounded women. With the absence of a focus on developing a person based on their gender, then what are we left with? 6

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2017-FEB-07: Joe Maldonado is welcomed back into the Cub Scouts:

The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying that they are:

"... pleased to welcome Joe and the Maldonado family back into the Scouting community. Moving forward, the BSA will continue to work to bring the benefits of our programs to as many children, families and communities as possible." 7

Joe joined Pack 20 in Essex County, NJ. He is the first known, openly transgender child to become a member of the Boy Scouts. He said during the meeting:

"This is fun; I'm so proud. ... I am accepted, and I'm actually in Boy Scouts." 8

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Transgender boy is barred from Boy Scouts," CNN, 2016-DEC-29, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  2. "Family Sues NJ Boy Scouts Over Kicking Out Transgender Boy," NBC New York, 2016-DEC-30, at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/
  3. "Stand with Cub Scout Joe Maldonado," Garden State Equality, undated, at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/
  4. "BSA Addresses Gender Identity," Boy Scouts of America, 2017-JAN-30, at: http://scoutingnewsroom.org/
  5. "BSA Announcement from Chief Scout Executive Michale Surbaugh, You Tube, 2017-JAN-31, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  6. Anthony Brian Logan, "Boy Scouts of America have died; now accepting transgender boys," You Tube, 2017-JAN-31, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  7. Mark Price, "Conservative NC group says churches should abandon their Boy Scout troops," The Charlotte Observer, 2017-FEB-01, at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/
  8. Sam Levine, "9-Year-Old Becomes First Openly Transgender Boy Scout," Huffington Post, 2017-FEB-08, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 
Originally published on 2017-FEB-13 
Rewritten: 2017-MAR-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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