An eight-year-old transgender boy has been barred from participating in the Secaucus, New Jersey Cub Scout Pack where he had been a member for one month. Joe Maldonado’s mother, Kristie Maldonado, received a phone call from a Scouting official citing gender as the reason behind the decision to oust her child. The call came as a shock to Kristie.
“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” she said.
Joe told NorthJersey.com, “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.”
This case could be the first time someone has been barred from participating in Scouting because of transgender identity. The Boy Scouts of America recently began allowing gay members and Scout leaders.
Justin Wilson, Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, responded to the news by saying, “We are deeply saddened by the actions of the BSA. Only a little over a year after their historic policy change allowing gay Scouters, we’re seeing the BSA begin to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.”
Scouts for Equality has vowed to fight the decision. They’ve laid out the following steps in an email to media:
- Scouts for Equality is working on this with Garden State Equality, who has an existing relationship with the family.
- In the community and in his school, Joe is accepted as a boy and is out and open about his gender identity.
- Some people are saying that Joe’s removal represents only one unit’s policy, not the policy of the BSA at large. This is not true. Joe’s unit did not kick him out. Someone reported him to the local BSA council, and the professional staff told the family he could not be in the BSA, period. The BSA national office has issued a statement in support of the council’s actions.
- The BSA has no formal policy on gender identity, but their national spokesperson is stating the the BSA bases its membership on the sex on one’s birth certificate. To the best of our knowledge, the BSA has never required a copy of a youth’s birth certificate to join.
- The policy changes of 2013 (youth) and 2015 (adult) dealt only with sexual orientation, which is separate from gender identity. The current policies of the BSA prohibits all units from denying a youth membership on the basis of sexual orientation, but allows faith-based units to deny leadership positions to adults based on their sexual orientation.
- For more information on gender identity, please check out this FAQ.
Boy Scouts of America spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said in a statement, “No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation…Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”
Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts told The Associated Press that it would admit transgender children to its coeducational programs, but not to programs that are for boys only, like the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has accepted transgender members for years.