In major policy reversal, US scouts will welcome transgender boys

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 2:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 10:13pm

The Boy Scouts of America will welcome transgender children who identify as boys, the group announced Monday, in a dramatic reversal from its traditional stand.

Chief executive Michael Surbaugh said the group will now allow individuals to enrol based on the gender with which they identify, ending a more than century-old policy of using the gender on their birth certificate.

“We realised that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient,” he said in a statement.

“Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently. And these new laws vary widely from state to state.”

Zach Wahls, co-founder of the advocacy group Scouts for Equality, hailed the “historic” step.

“We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado - the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy - and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right,” Wahls said in a statement.

“We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing.”

The move marked a major shift for the Boy Scouts, which ended a ban on gay scouts in 2013.

Two years later, it officially scrapped a decades-old ban on gay troop leaders, a historic but controversial decision after years of legal wrangling and internal strife.

One of the country’s largest youth groups, the Boy Scouts counts nearly 2.3 million members in the US and around a million adult volunteers.