The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that enrollment in its boys-only programs will now be based on the gender a child or parent lists on his application to become a scout, rather than the gender listed on the child’s birth certificate.
The organization’s statement did not specifically mention a case, but said it changed the policy because of the larger conversation about gender identity taking place around the country.
“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 statement said. “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 Boy Scouts said the enrollment decision goes into effect immediately.
“Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child,” the statement said.
Zach Wahls, co-founder of the groups Scouts for Equality, called the decision historic.
“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,” he wrote in a statement posted to social media. “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.”
Boy Scouts of America leaders lifted a blanket ban on gay troop leaders and employees in July 2015 amid intense pressure. The group decided in 2013 — after heated debate — to allow openly gay youth as scouts.
The national Girl Scouts organization, which is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, has accepted transgender members for years.
The Associated Press contributed to this article