Controversy has, again, found a target in the Boy Scouts of America. This time around, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado is the center of parental complaints and calls to action by the organization's officials.
According to NorthJersey.com, Maldonado joined his local Secaucus, New Jersey, Cub Scout Pack 87 with the hopes of camping and enjoying other activities with his fellow Scout members. But a month into his membership, the parents of other children in the Pack complained to the Boy Scout’s Northern New Jersey Council that Maldonado should be removed from the group.
Joe Maldonado is transgender. He was born female, but has been living as a boy for over a year. Joe’s mother, Kristie, stated that Joe has been accepted as a male by his classmates at school.
"Not one of the kids said, 'You don’t belong here,’” Kristie Maldonado added of Joe’s experience in the Cub Scouts.
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“It made me mad,” Joe, said. “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.”
This is not the first controversy to plague the national organization regarding LGBTQ rights and membership.
According to the ACLU, in 2015, after years of banning openly gay adults from becoming Boy Scout leaders, the group lifted the restriction. However, the organization retained the right for religiously-chartered troops (which account for some 70 percent of Boy Scout troops) "to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality."
The Boy Scouts of America is once again at a turning point. After allowing boys of all sexual orientations into their fold, the national organization now faces the question of gender identity.
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Effie Delimarkos, the Scouts’ communications director, announced that the Cub Scouts is expressly for males between ages 7 and 10 and that potential members will be selected by "the classification on the participant’s birth certificate" in order to "confirm legal status," reports NorthJersey.com.
Joe Maldonado adds that questions over his gender identity “got so annoying” and that he was “disappointed” by his exclusion from the Cub Scouts.
“How dare they judge me?” he said. “I don’t have to explain it. It’s the way I’m born.”