Boy Scouts of America announced Jan. 30 that transgender children who identify as boys will be permitted to participate in the organization’s programs.
Under the new policy—effective immediately—membership will be considered based on the gender indicated on an application. Prior to this policy—for the past century—applicants were required to present a birth certificate that indicated the child’s biological gender.
The policy change comes several months after an 8-year-old New Jersey transgender Cub Scout accused the organization of discrimination after expulsion for being a biological girl.
Effie Delimarkos, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts, said the organization believes that the new policy is not in conflict with its long-held principles, explaining that biological gender “is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently.”
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, is no stranger to transgender public policy controversies. In early 2016 her state leadership came under scrutiny from liberal progressives and LGBT advocacy groups when Gov. Pat McCrory—as a protective measure—signed House Bill 2 into law in response to a transgender bathroom bill. This bill would have allowed individuals to choose whichever restroom they claim corresponds with their “chosen” gender, giving non-transgendered predators easier access to women and girls.
Now, she says the Values Coalition is encouraging parents to consider Boy Scout alternatives—such as Trail Life USA—for their children, since the Boy Scouts “have diverged greatly from their founding principles.”
In January 2014, the Boy Scouts began allowing openly gay boys to join their program. In July 2015, the organization’s board lifted its ban on gay adults as Scout leaders. And in May 2015, Girl Scouts took similar measures, allowing transgender youth in their programs.