The Boy Scouts of America is under fire after an 8-year-old transgender boy was asked to leave his New Jersey pack just one month after joining.
Joe Maldonado, who was born Jodi and has been identifying as a boy for more than a year, has been banned from Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus after some parents complained, his mother, Kristie, told NorthJersey.com. She said the pack knew of Joe’s transgender status when he joined.
“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” Maldonado said. She later told CBS News that Pack 87 “all know Joe as when he was Jodi.”
The Boy Scouts of America is no stranger to controversy over its members' rights. In recent years, the organization lifted a longtime ban on gay scouts and pack leaders, and earlier this year told The Associated Press it would allow transgender kids to participate in co-ed programs, but not ones that are boys-only.
“No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation,” Effie Delimarkos, communications director of Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement after news of Maldonado’s ban broke. “Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation,” she added.
In the statement, Delimarkos also said that the Cub Scoutprograms are for boys ages 7 to 10 andthat a scout's birth certificate would be needed to “confirm legal status."
Comparatively, the unassociated Girl Scouts of the USA have long welcomed transgender girls, writing on its website that “if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.”
Joe Maldonado told CBS News that he wanted to join the Scouts “because all my favorite friends were there.”
The third-grader came out as a boy last year, and his mother said that his teachers have used male pronouns to refer to him since second grade. He’s a “much happier child” because of it, she said.
Joe told NorthJersey.com that he’s “disappointed” he isn’t allowed to be in the Cub Scouts.
“How dare they judge me?” he said. “It’s the way I’m born.”