SECAUCUS, N.J — A New Jersey boy has become the first openly transgender member of the Boy Scouts.
The Record reports 9-year-old Joe Maldonado put on a Cub Scout uniform and joined Pack 20 in Essex County on Tuesday following a decision by Boy Scouts of America to allow transgender scouts.
“This is fun; I’m so proud,” Joe, 9, said during the meeting. He said that the best part of the night was that “I am accepted, and I’m actually in Boy Scouts.”
Maldonado, who was born a girl, was joined Pack 87 in Secaucus in October. His best friend is part of that pack and it gave his the chance to go camping, his favorite Boy Scouts activity.
But he was asked to leave a month later.
“It’s just, I don’t know, it’s confusing for me,” Joe Maldonado said when asked if he understood why he had been kicked out of the Scouts.
The boy said he’s experienced bullying before, especially in kindergarten when he told his classmates he “wanted to be a boy and they just didn’t take it that way.”
Kristie Maldonado said she was never asked to provide her son’s birth certificate when he joined.
In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America changed a long-standing policy that banned gay scouts and leaders. They lifted the ban on gay leaders in 2015. The ban on gay scouts was lifted in 2013.
Garden State Equality launched a petition asking the Scouts to reinstate Maldonado as a member and consider adopting a national policy regarding transgender children.
Maldonado’s advocate Aaron Potenza, with Garden State Equality, said the group’s previous plan of deferring to a scout’s birth certificate is “problematic.”
The Boy Scouts changed their policy of referring to the gender on birth certificates to determine eligibility last week after Maldonado’s story gained national attention.
The organization released a statement welcoming the Maldonado family. Previously, the Boy Scouts overturned bans against gay scouts and scouting leaders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.