A transgender teenager in New York says she’s being forced out of the Boy Scout troop she’s been in for the past six years due to her gender identity.
Skylar Sanders, 14, of LeRoy, N.Y., has loved going to meetings of her Scouts BSA troop, camping, and earning merit badges, and one day dreamed of being an Eagle Scout. But after Skylar recently came out as transgender, the troop has informed her mother that she will no longer be able to participate.
“It was very upsetting. I remember seeing my mom crying,” she told the Rochester-based ABC affiliate WHAM. “That was like family to us because when you are with the troop for so long you are family.”
The Boy Scouts of America have accepted girls into its Scouting program since 2019, renaming the program for youth ages 11-17 as “Scouts BSA.” However, under the organization’s guidelines, boys and girls cannot be in the same troop after they reach middle school age. The organization has also accepted transgender scouts since 2017, but requires youth to join a troop “representing the gender with which they most closely identify” — meaning Skylar would have to be in a girls’ troop in order to remain in the program.
Because Skylar lives in Genesee County, and there are no all-girl troops in the county, her mother, Emily, was told her daughter would have to complete work individually — which undermines the whole purpose of joining a troop.
“There is no sense in one little girl off doing activities by herself,” Emily Sanders said in a statement. “The activities are fun together that was the whole purpose, it is fun together not fun separated.”
Emily Sanders says the family is considering its options, including potentially legal action.
“Scouting represents the best character development and leadership training available to youth in America,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement. “It is our goal to ensure that every child or youth that wants a Scouting experience can participate. Our Council Scout Executives are responsible for working with any family with a Scout who identifies as transgendered and asks for assistance. They work together to locate and register the youth with a Scouting unit that best fits their needs.”
The Iroquois Trail Council, which oversees BSA troops in several western New York counties, told WHAM that the council was working on a solution to allow Skylar to continue in scouting.
Skylar says she wants to be able to continue her scouting experience in the same troop she’s been in since first joining the organization.
“I want to be seen as just a normal human,” she said.
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