The Boy Scouts of America announced on Monday that #transgender boys would now be allowed to hike, camp and earn merit badges alongside their peers.
For the past century, the organization refused to admit trans boys into the Boy Scouts. They previously referred to the information on a child’s birth certificate to determine eligibility and now will be accepting members based on the gender listed on their applications.
The statement issued on its website said the new stance is a reaction to different interpretations of gender by state laws:
“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 state by state.”
Recently, a lawsuit was filed in Secaucus, New Jersey, on behalf of 8-year-old Joe Maldonado, who was kicked out of his troop last year.
Joe’s mother, Kristie Maldonado said she told the scout’s chapter that Joe is transgender before registering.
After a month of camping and studying nature, Joe was told he was no longer welcome because he was transgender.
Last week, Maldonado filed a civil rights complaint against with the Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts but after hearing the announcement on Monday night, she told TIME magazine her son is excited for the chance to return to the Boys Scouts.
“Just knowing that he can go back to his Scouts and knowing that he’s accepted, it means a lot,” she said.
Maldonado said Joe will likely join a different Boys Scout Chapter because she doesn’t want him to return to his hometown chapter under its current leadership and she’ll soon fill out a new application for him.
“I’m going to feel very proud that we won,” Maldonado said. “Just knowing that they didn’t win. Just knowing that my kid can go in there if he feels like it. It feels good.”
#Kent State sophomore physics major Christopher Hunter thinks the Boys Scouts becoming more inclusive can help provide mentorship for transgender boys.
“I think it’s a great thing, as Boys Scouts is all about becoming a man with integrity and skill,” Hunter said. “I think having that mentoring from older boys and men is a good thing.”
In recent years, the Boys Scouts have expanded its rights for gay people.
In 2013, the organization ended its long time ban on openly gay youth participating in its activities.
Two years later, the organization ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders.