Boy Scouts Of America Open Membership To Transgender Children

The Boy Scouts of America have updated its scouting policies to include transgender boys.

The announcement, made by Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, was released on Tuesday (Jan. 30) via the BSA’s website and YouTube. Surbaugh credited the change to the interpretations of gender identity, but the case of 8-year-old Joe Maldonado might have been the tipping point for the organization. NPR reports Maldonado, was allegedly driven out of the Boy Scouts after leaders had discovered the child was born a girl. “Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently than society did in the past,” Surbaugh said, “[And] these new laws vary widely from state to state. Starting today we will accept registration in our Scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application.”

Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, praised Maldonado and his family for speaking against the BSA’s single gender policies. “We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado — the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy — and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right, he said to CNN. “We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing. We look forward to seeing more detail clarifying this policy change in the days and weeks ahead.”

Maldonado’s family said they’re open to letting their child rejoin the group, but only under the condition that the leader who forced Joe out would be terminated.

In their 2015 Annual Report, BSA cited 1.2 million boys enrolled in the program with an increase in revenue up 7.8 percent from 2014. Donations reportedly decreased over 40 percent between 2015 and 2014.