In a Jan. 30 announcement on their website, Boy Scouts of America acknowledged that it is “no longer sufficient to refer to birth certificates as the reference point to determine eligibility” for participation in the Boy Scouts programs.
Boy Scouts’ Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh announced the change via news release and a YouTube video, stating, “Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently than society did in the past.”
This announcement is in line with Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to becoming a more accepting organization by reducing limitations on youth participation. The organization first allowed gay youths into their programs in 2013, which followed with the decision to allow gay troop leaders in 2015.
Though the announcement does state that they “have recently been challenged by a very complex topic on the issue of gender identity,” it doesn’t mention the civil rights complaint filed in New Jersey against the Northern New Jersey Boy Scouts of America for kicking out a transgender boy in November.
Credited by the public for igniting this development, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado was asked to leave his cub scout troop because his birth certificate says he is female. His mother, Kristie Maldonado, filed the civil rights complaint on his behalf.
Surbaugh states that starting Monday, the Boy Scouts of America will “accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identity provided on an individual’s application,” and hopes that people will “join with me in embracing the opportunity to bring scouting to more families and children who can benefit from what our program has to offer.”