Boy Scouts Surprise Everyone by Deciding to Stop Discriminating Against Trans Boys

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In a surprising bit of good news, the Boy Scouts of America have decided to reverse their century-old policy of discriminating against trans kids, and from now on they say trans boys will be allowed to join the Boy Scouts.

That’s pretty amazing. I never thought I’d see the day the Boy Scouts would come around like that. The organization does good things, but so much of its brand lately has been steeped in anti-LGBT bigotry that it overshadowed any history of knot-tying or helping little old ladies cross streets. The Boy Scouts did not allow openly gay boys to be scouts until 2013, and they banned gay scoutmasters until 2015. (Individual packs are allowed to make their own decisions about gay men leading scouts, but the parent organization allows gay scoutmasters.) But the Boy Scouts said that its programs were “for those who are identified as boys on their birth certificates.”

Last year the Scouts were in the news for booting an 8-year-old boy named Joe Maldonado from the Cub Scout Pack he had been a member of for a month, just because he was transgender. The scout masters and other scouts reportedly did not have a problem with Joe’s presence in the pack, and he said he never felt unwelcome, but then one day he was told he could not come back, because some of the other parents had complained. The Scouts maintained that Joe could not be a scout because his birth certificate said “female,” but now they have reversed that position and are putting parental authority before paperwork. According to CNN, from now on the Boy Scouts say their programs will be open to boys whose parents write on their paperwork that they are boys, no birth certificate proof necessary.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to evaluate and update our approach. I hope you’ll join with me in embracing the opportunity to bring scouting to more families and children who can benefit from what our organization has to offer,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh in a statement.

The Boy Scouts have been making progress in recent years, but I’m honestly surprised. I thought they’d be fighting this particular battle for the next 50 years. This is refreshing to see. For anyone feeling good about this decision, a phone call supporting the decision or thanking the organization would probably not be out of order. We know for sure their phones are ringing off the hook thanks to angry conservatives, and their receptionists have probably been getting screamed and cursed at all morning. A bit of a thank-you would probably be appreciated, and let them know that deciding not to discriminate against trans boys is a move that many parents and scouts appreciate.