Metro Weekly

Transgender boy in New Jersey barred from Cub Scout pack

Eligibility seems limited to cisgender males, although BSA does not have an official policy on trans Scouts

Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson.

Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson.

An 8-year-old transgender boy has been barred from his local Cub Scout pack because the Boy Scouts of America does not recognize his gender identity, according to NorthJersey.com.

Kristie Maldonado, of Secaucus, N.J., said she received a call from a scouting official telling her that her son, Joe, would no longer be able to participate in Cub Scouts because he was born a girl.

Maldonado was told by the official, who was from the Northern New Jersey Council of Boy Scouts, that other parents had complained about Joe’s participation in Cub Scouts. Joe has been recognized as a boy at his school.

“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here,'” Kristie Maldonado said, blaming the parents who complained for creating problems where none existed.

“It made me mad,” Joe told NorthJersey.com. “I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.”

Although the Boy Scouts in recent years have changed their policies to allow openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders to participate, they did not make any pronouncements about the status of transgender individuals at the time.

A spokeswoman for the organization reiterated that its Cub Scout programs are designated for boys ages 7 to 10 and that “the classification on the participant’s birth certificate” would be used to “confirm legal status.” But it remains unclear whether the organization actually checks birth certificates for Scouts’ gender markers. The organization has previously said it will permit transgender children to participate in coeducational programs, but remained mum on whether that extends to programs like Cub Scouts that have typically been reserved for males.

“No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation,” the spokeswoman, Effie Delimarkos, said in a statement, adding: “Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”

Thus far, Kristie Maldonado has not sued to allow her son to participate in Cub Scouts. And a previous Supreme Court decision from 2000 allowing the Boy Scouts of America to bar a gay man from being a Scout leader could be an impediment to any potential lawsuit. In that case, the Supreme Court had found that the organization was exercising its First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association by rejecting James Dale’s bid to be an adult Scouting leader. As such, the organization was found not to have violated New Jersey’s law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, Jon Davidson, the legal director of Lambda Legal, says the Dale ruling may not apply to the Maldonado family’s situation, which is thought to be the first instance of a transgender youth being turned away by the Boy Scouts.

“[The Dale decision] was about the right to choose leaders people see as role models,” Davidson told NorthJersey.com. “Here, we’re talking about an 8-year-old boy in Cub Scouts. I’m not sure Dale would apply.”

New Jersey law currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender identity. Additionally, BSA has never taken an official position on transgender Scouts in the way it did on sexual orientation during the Dale case.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com