Transgender children had long been barred from being a part of Cub Scouts, per the official rules of the Boy Scouts of America.
But that all changed in January, thanks in large part to nine-year-old Joe Maldonado. He made headlines after he was ousted from his Cub Scout pack in Secaucus, New Jersey, just weeks after joining.
Speaking with the New York Times, Joe said that he knew why he had been kicked out of the Cub Scouts pack, saying, it’s “because I was born a girl.”
And while he knows it is unfair, Joe has decided even at just nine years old, that he is not going to change himself for anyone. “I hate being a girl. I hate it. I will literally cry in bed my whole life if I had to be Joey instead of Joe,” he said.
Infuriated over the discrimination, and inspired by his resolve, Joe’s family took up the fight on his behalf, and others quickly joined suit.
His mom, Kristie, shared the family’s progress over Facebook, such as in late December when a local newspaper wrote about a petition they had going in the hopes of changing the organization’s mind.
She also condemned the Secaucus pack’s intolerance after a pack leader said that her son was not transgender, but “mentally ill.” And though her post was critical, we have to commend her restraint because how easy would it have been to just go off on that guy?
But she didn’t. And that man doesn’t matter anymore anyway, because on January 30 everyone’s petitioning and protesting paid off when the Boy Scouts of America announced they were finally going to change their archaic stance.
In a statement shared to their website, they announced that though the organization – geared toward boys – had always gone by the information on an individual’s birth certificate, that may “no longer be sufficient.”
“Communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state,” the statement said.
And now neither Joe nor his mother have to ever worry about that prejudiced pack leader again, as he has been welcomed with open arms into another pack, making him not only officially a Cub Scout, but also a hero for all future transgender children who follow after him.
Video was captured of Joe during his first meeting with his new pack, the Maplewood Cub Scouts, by the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m really happy to go to Boy Scouts because I’m gonna see my new friends, and I’m gonna have fun there,” Joe said.
Joe seemed to enjoy himself as he took in a cooking lesson with his new friends, and talked about his pet hamsters. After the meeting he shared, “I had a permanent smile on my face. I felt like I belonged there.”
He sure does.
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