Throughout the history of the Boy Scouts, the organization has continually involved itself through varying controversies, which, unfortunately speaking, sounds normal considering the year in which it was founded (1911). It felt almost onerous, during that era, to include all boys, until the past years. Back in 2013, the nonprofit organization changed its policy against gay youths and in 2015 also adjusted their policies to include all Scout leaders regardless of sexual orientation. “For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in the community and in the lives of its youth members,” said Boy Scouts of America President Robert M. Gates in a video back in July 2015.
In addition to the issue of sexual orientation, BSA, in January, changed its course and will not deny memberships based on sex. Before this, birth certificates had to be presented to the organization for acceptance. The “approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state,” said BSA spokeswoman, Effie Delimarkos.
Almost simultaneously, 9-year-old transgender boy Joe Maldonado became one of the first openly trans members to enter the century old organization. He had first applied back in October but was kicked out after other parents allegedly complained about the child. “I was in shock – upset,” Maldonado’s mother, Kristie Maldonado said. “The kids didn’t have a problem, he’s with all his friends. He was having fun.” Both Joe and Kristie Maldonado sued the Boy Scouts for violating New Jersey’s laws against discrimination. “It’s not fair,” said Joe. When asked if he’d ever return, he said, “absolutely.”
Now, that same boy was finally allowed to return back to BSA after their policy changes and Joe says he’s “so proud” and “accepted” for being able to return. However, his mother felt great concern about taking him back to the same Cub Scout in Secaucus, New Jersey so she signed him up at Cub Scout 20 in Maplewood, New Jersey. “I never would have been able to just drop Joe off there and feel safe,” she said, “I know there are loving and caring people here,” she said of Joe’s new pack.