The Boy Scouts of America announced that it will accept members based on their gender identity thereby opening membership for transgender children identifying as boys.
In the announcement made on Monday, the Boy Scouts of America released a policy allowing the entry of transgender children who identify as boys into the boys-only Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs.
Under the new policy, which was put into effect immediately, the organization will consider the gender listed on a child's application to become a scout. Previously, the Boy Scouts only considered the gender listed on the child's birth certificate while considering applications for boys-only programs.
"For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs," the organization said in a statement. "However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state."
The break from the long-standing tradition was brought about after the organization considered a recent New Jersey case where an 8-year-old transgender child named Joe was asked to leave a Cub Scouts pack after parents and leaders found out he is transgender.
Joe's mother Kristie Maldonado, speaking to the Associated Press, said that she had "mixed feelings" when a Boy Scouts of America representative called on Monday to inform her that her son would be allowed to re-enroll in the Secaucus troop he was asked to leave last year.
"I'm so grateful. I really am that they're accepting and that there won't be any issues. They (other transgender youth) won't have to go through what my son went through," Maldonado said. "It's a big change for everybody that all are accepted now ... I'm so delighted that they finally called and they did say this, but I'm still angry."
Stating that her son's removal from the troop made him feel like an outcast, Maldonado said that she would be okay with her son re-joining the Secaucus troop only if the scout leader who removed him leaves.
The decision by the BSA to allow transgender members -- brought about after the organization was "challenged by a very complex topic... the issue of gender identity" -- brings it at par with the Girl Scouts of America which began accepting transgender members in May 2015, according to CNN.
Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, lauded the "historic" decision and credited Kristie and Joe Maldonado for their efforts which brought about this change.
"The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution," Wahls said. "We are incredibly proud of Joe Maldonado -- the transgender boy from New Jersey whose expulsion last year ignited this controversy -- and his mother Kristie for their courage in doing what they knew was right. We are also proud of the Boy Scouts for deciding to do the right thing. We look forward to seeing more detail clarifying this policy change in the days and weeks ahead."
The Boy Scouts of America has found itself in hot water over LGBT issues in the past. The organization allowed memberships to openly gay youths in 2013 following protracted internal debates and only lifted a blanket ban on gay troop leaders in July 2015 after facing intense public pressure.