The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has announced today that they will now accept and register youth “based on the gender identity indicated on the application”.
Previously the organisation only allowed transgender children to attend their co-educational activities, banning them from single-gender programs such as Cubs and Scouts.
The BSA has released a video featuring Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh, who addresses the change in policy.
“We and others have recently been challenged by a very complex topic on the issue of gender identity,” Surbaugh states in the clip.
The group’s New Jersey council recently banned 8-year-old Joe Maldonado because he did not meet “eligibility requirements”.
Communications director Effie Delimarkos said at the time that “If needed we defer to the information provided for an individual’s birth certificate and their biological sex.”
However, in the newly released statement from Scouts, the group acknowledges that both and state laws interpret gender identity differently now.
“After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organisation, we realise that referring to birth certificates as a reference point is no longer sufficient,” reads the statement.
Joe Maldonado’s mother Kristie was reached for comment after the decision was made.
"I'm so grateful. I really am that they're accepting and that there won't be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won't have to go through what my son went through.”
However she says she will only allow her son to return if the Scout leader who first banned him leaves.
Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, has praised Joe Maldonado for his courage.
“The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution," he said.
"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. We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing."
The new decision goes into effect immediately.