Just over a week after changing their longstanding policy of determining gender solely by birth certificate, the Boy Scouts have admitted their first transgender child to join the organization.
Nine-year-old Joe Maldonado of Secaucus, New Jersey joined Cub Scouts Pack 20 in Essex County on Tuesday night. Late last year, he had been thrown out of a Secaucus Cub Scout troop because he had been born a girl. Joe's story ended up receiving extensive press attention, and the Scouts changed their policy several months later.
On Tuesday, the organization released a statement saying that they were "pleased to welcome Joe and the Maldonado family back into the Scouting community. Moving forward, the BSA will continue to work to bring the benefits of our programs to as many children, families and communities as possible."
Joe was ecstatic about joining the troop. "This is fun; I'm so proud," he said. "I am accepted, and I'm actually in Boy Scouts."
One of the parents in the troop, Jessica Breen, said she and several other adults wanted to reach out to the Maldanado family when the case first went public. "We said, 'We have to reach out to this child,'" she said.
Breen's husband Robert said that he was pleasantly surprised the Scouts changed their policy so quickly. "I thought it would happen in three to four years," he said.
The Boy Scouts have undergone several major policy changes with regard to LGBT membership in the past few years. In 2013, they allowed members to be openly gay, and in 2015 they began accepting gay leaders.