Boy Scouts of America will now allow transgender boys to become Scouts


Photo by Marcus Yam/Seattle Times/MCT

Boy Scouts recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a church in Bothell, Washington. Many churches have ended their affiliation with the Boy Scouts because of their decision to allow LGBT members and leaders.

Story by Anna Cannon, editor in chief

The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it will allow transgender children who identify as male to join its boys-exclusive program. For nearly 100 years, a potential Scout was required to present his birth certificate as proof of his gender. Now, enrollment will be based on the gender that he lists on his application.

“The Boy Scouts of America 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,” BSA Director of Communications Effie Delimarkos said in a press release.

The decision was made after Joe Maldonado, an 8-year-old Cub Scout in New Jersey, was forced to leave his troop when his troop leader found out that he is transgender. Since then, Maldonado has been invited back to his troop.

Since the 1970s, the BSA has had a blanket ban on all gay members, stating that homosexuality did not follow the tenets set forth in the Scout Law and Scout Oath. In May 2013, however, leaders voted to allow homosexual boys to join the Scouting program. “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” says the resolution.

In 2015, the organization lifted its ban on openly gay leaders. However, since troops are chartered independently, they are able to choose their own leaders. This ruling follows the same premise; even though national policy forbids the exclusion of members because they are transgender, troops remain autonomous in their decisions about membership.

“Given our location in the country, I don’t think it will actually have very many practical implications,” Eagle Scout Daylan O’Neal said. “I think it will be more of a national policy that our council will have to recognize, but not necessarily have to enforce.”

The decision is part of a larger nationwide conversation about transgender rights. In May 2016, the Department of Education and Department of Justice announced that transgender students in public schools would be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Organizations such as Scouts for Equality have been campaigning for LGBT rights within the BSA for years.

“I can’t say I didn’t see this coming,” Eagle Scout D.C. Fortenberry said. “After everything that’s been happening, it was kind of inevitable. You have to start accepting those kinds of people. I think it’s a good move.”

Local Scout Executive Anthony Escobar declined an interview.