For many kids, becoming a cub scout — and then a boy scout — is an important rite of passage that they’ll remember way after their formative years are over. Eight-year-old Joe Maldonado, however, won’t be able to collect those memories. After being a member of the Cub Scouts for only a month, Maldonado was unceremoniously ousted from his troop. The reason? Biologically, Maldonado is female, and The Boy Scouts of America, a group that’s all about acceptance and togetherness, thinks that girls are icky.
Of course, the “icky” thing is a speculation on our part, but according to Vice, the organization’s leaders didn’t really give any specific reasons for why Maldonado couldn’t continue participating in the troop’s activities. Most importantly, according to his mother, none of the kids even cared about Maldonado’s gender identity. They’d known him when he was Jodi and were just as accepting now that he’d transitioned to Joe, something that both Maldonado and his family had been open about for more than a year.
You know who was upset, though? The parents. Why? No one really knows (it probably has something to do with people whose income has bought them time to waste on wrongheaded outrage). It might have made some sense if the activities that Cub Scouts participate in were in any way secret and/or required random genital checks for some reason, but considering that what the Cub Scouts do is earn merit badges, eat pizza, and go on field trips, there seems to be no reason that anyone who identifies as male shouldn’t be allowed to participate.
In a statement provided to VICE News, Boy Scouts of America communications director Effe Delimarkos explained, without mentioning a name or location, that a family had started the process of registering their child when the organization became aware the child did not “meet the eligibility requirements to participate in this program.”
“The BSA grants youth memberships to Cub Scouts to boys in the first through fifth grades, or 7 to 10 years of age. If needed, we defer to the information provided for an individual birth certificate and their biological sex,” her statement continued. The Boy Scouts do allow both genders in certain programs — just not membership to the Scouts specifically.
Why would it “be needed?” No answer there, either. But the Boy Scouts of America did clarify that this had nothing to do with Maldonado’s sexual orientation. If he had simply been gay or bisexual, none of this would have been an issue. Currently, however, the Boy Scouts don’t have protections in place for children who don’t identify with the biological sex they were assigned at birth.
“No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation,” Delimarkos told The Record earlier. She also noted that “gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”
The question here, of course, is why The Boy Scouts of America haven’t considered that this is a thing that might happen. With more and more cases of children identifying as trans being reported (one child even making the cover of National Geographic), it’s important that the organization look at their policies and decide which are archaic enough that they should no longer be enforced. And if The Girl Scouts can celebrate inclusivity by allowing trans girls to be members, it’s definitely time that the Boy Scouts reconsidered their stance on genitals being the prevailing criteria for membership.