From the moment he joined, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado eagerly looked forward to camping trips and science projects with his Secaucus Cub Scout pack.
Dec. 27, 2016
From the moment he joined, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado eagerly looked forward to camping trips and science projects as a member of the Cub Scouts. But his expectations were dashed after his mother said she received a phone call from a Scouting official who told her that Joe would no longer be allowed to participate because he was born a girl.
Kristie Maldonado said she was stunned because her son had been a member of Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus for about a month and his transgender status had not been a secret. But some parents complained, an official from the Northern New Jersey Council of Boy Scouts told her — even though her son had been living as a boy for more than a year and was accepted as a boy at school, she said.
“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” Maldonado said of the Scouts in the pack.
“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.”
Joe’s case could be the first time someone has been barred from participating in Scouting because of transgender identity, said members of the LGBT community. And it comes as the Boy Scouts of America appeared to be emerging from a period of turmoil involving sexual-orientation issues, reversing long-standing bans against gay Scouts and gay Scouting leaders over the past few years. Those policy changes were made amid an internal debate that saw at least one local council defy national Scouting decrees by hiring a gay camp counselor and pressure brought from corporations that withheld donations from the organization.
The Boy Scouts did not address the transgender issue at the time, LGBT advocates said, perhaps because the organization had no written policy related to gender identity. Transgender rights only recently emerged as a national issue, often focusing on the use of restrooms based on gender identity. Dozens of North Jersey school districts, including Secaucus, have granted that right, among others, to transgender students.