By Annie Cui,
After over a century, a child that identifies as male, no matter what his birth certificate says, can now become a Boy Scout. On Jan. 30, the Boy Scouts of America organization opened their doors to transgender boys.
The policy against transgender boys came under fire last year after eight-year-old Joe Maldonado was kicked out of his Boy Scout troop in New Jersey due to the fact that at birth, his sex was a girl.
In addition to the Maldonado case (which the BSA does not directly cite as a reason behind the policy reversal), the BSA has also recognized that the whole nation has been redefining gender identity. In response to the national change, the BSA now accepts whatever gender is on a child’s application.
Maldonado was invited to become a Scout again after the policy changed. He became the first openly transgender Boy Scout on Feb. 7.
This is not the only ban that the BSA has lifted. In 2013, the organization voted to allow members of any sexual orientation and in 2015, they allowed openly homosexual troop leaders.
“This is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of scouting to the greatest number of youth possible all while remaining true to our core beliefs,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh in a video statement published by the BSA organization.
Although the policy change may be shocking news for some troops and chartering organizations, troops and scouts in Davis have already been more flexible with gender identity.
Troop 111 in Davis accepted transgender and homosexual boys long before the BSA made it a nation policy.
“Troop 111’s chartering organization is Davis Community Church, and ‘inclusiveness’ is one of their core values. That being the case, it is also a core value for our troop. Therefore, it would have been against our policy to remove gay or transgender scouts from the troop,” Scoutmaster Kory Ching said.
Ching personally believes that the national membership policy changes for both transgender and homosexual boys “are steps in the right direction.”
As Boy Scouts become more inclusive, Ching hopes it can lead to increased participation since it could possibly attract those who were against the policies before.
“At its core, scouting is a youth program that teaches leadership and builds character in the context of challenging outdoor activities. It’s good for the scouts, and it’s good for society,” Ching said.
Junior and Troop 139 member Patrick Carlock also stands with the new policy and hopes it can trigger a bigger change for the LGBT community in the world.
“I hope [this trend] continues until anyone can join whichever organization they feel aligns with their gender identity. Acceptance, tolerance and love is what makes us [America] strong,” Carlock said.
Carlock believes this “bold move” by the BSA is a positive direction from being “discriminatory and wrong” to making America greater as it translates the idea that all types of people should be able to pursue their ambitions.
However, Carlock also acknowledges that the national organization might not be on the same page as Davis– a liberal town.
“I know that the Boys Scouts of America is more of a conservative group, so I know that some people might not be happy, but I feel that that is a close minded way to look at it,” Carlock said.
The BSA has religious roots and connections, explaining their previous bans on homosexuals, transgender and current ban on atheists and agnostics. Also, many organizations that charter Boy Scout troops are religious and expect the troops they sponsor to have the same core beliefs.
Although Ching hopes for positive feedback from the policy reversal, there are possibilities of chartering organizations severing ties from Boy Scouts due to the disagreements in values.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the largest sponsor of the BSA, has released a statement saying they are currently “studying the announcement.”