Transgender kids can now join the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America officially announced they will accept transgender kids. This is another huge leap by the Boy Scouts after they allowed openly gay boys to join in 2013. Admission into the Boy Scouts will now be based on the gender parents specify for their kids, rather than what’s given on their birth certificate.

Boy Scouts chief executive Michael Surbaugh says they have taken this decision because today state laws are interpreting gender differently from what it was when their rules were first made. As such, Boys Scouts will make changes to their century-old qualification process that looked into an applicant’s biological gender for admission. Admission into Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will now be based on the gender as mentioned on the application instead. Surbaugh also said local Boy Scouts councils will help find units that can “provide for the best interests of the child.”

The Boys Scouts has been making significant progress in inclusivity. In 2013, they allowed openly gay boys to join the Scouts, followed by permission to appoint gay scouts as leaders. This was triggered when the New York Council defied the rules and appointed a gay scout as leader. This led to debate and discussion between Boys Scouts chiefs, effectively putting an end to the ban on gay scouts from being leaders with the president calling for an end to these discriminatory practices.

The current change in policy came after a Scout was thrown out last year after it was discovered he was born a girl. The 8-year old transgender boy, Joe Maldonado, was said to have not met the eligibility criteria. His mother, Kristie Maldonado, filed a discriminatory case against the Boys Scouts, which may have prompted the new decision. Boy Scouts spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said this case was one among the topics that were discussed over this issue.

Co-founder of Scouts for Equality, Zach Wahls, calls this decision as “another historic day” for the Boy Scouts.

Atheist boys, however, are still banned from the Boy Scouts. The Oath that Scouts have to take includes a line, “To do my duty to God and my country”. Reverence to God and being religious is one of the values that the Boys Scouts stresses on. Although the Boys Scouts have taken a major step in expanding inclusivity, the continued ban on atheists in a climate where atheism is growing can be a major setback for the organization.

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