The Boy Scouts of America will now allow transgender youth to join its ranks, overturning a 100-plus-years-old position on gender identity, the group said in a statement Monday.
The Boy Scouts will accept registration based on the gender identity individuals put on their applications, regardless of whether it matches their birth certificate.
“After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organization, we realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh in a video announcement that accompanied the statement.
In December, a New Jersey boy named Joe Maldonado, who just turned 9, was kicked out of the Cub Scouts after the organization realized he was born physically as a girl. His mother, Kristie Maldonado, told the Associated Press she was “so grateful” for the decision but still had reservations.
“It’s a big change for everybody that all are accepted now … I’m so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I’m still angry.” Maldonado, told the Associated Press.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, was the national president of BSA from 2010 to 2012 and remains on the board today. Tillerson “led the charge” on gay rights, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council told the Christian Post.
The move reflects a broader trend toward being more inclusive of the LGBT community. In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” it said in a statement.
In 2015, the organization lifted the ban on having gay scout leaders.
LGBT activists heralded the move, while emphasizing there was still much more to do.
“While this trend is very encouraging, take heed: It is also likely to bring up outrage, resentment, and fear,” transgender activist and author Lee Schubert said in an email. “But parents, don’t give up. You are your child’s prime advocate, and you can help them as they begin this journey.”