Reversing a century-old stance, the Boy Scouts of America announced they will accept members based on their gender identity.
Under the new policy, which was announced Monday, membership will be based on the gender indicated on an individual’s application. Previously, the organization relied on an individual’s birth certificate to determine their eligibility.
“After weeks of significant conversation at all levels of our organization,” said Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive. “We realized referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient.”
The Scout Executive for the Middle Tennessee Council, Larry Brown, responded with a statement that said, in part: “We're going to work with families of the scout and work with scout leaders to make a safe environment for every kid."
Troop 11 has been meeting at Christ the King School in Nashville for 80 years. As one of the oldest troops in Nashville, leaders and members understand tradition, but said they applauded the change in the organization’s philosophy.
“It’s nice that the Boy Scouts are recognizing scout law is being helpful and being welcoming,” said John Green, Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 11. “That is what we strive to do.”
The announcement came a few months after 8-year-old Joe Maldonado, a New Jersey resident, accused the organization of expelling him because he was transgender. His family filed a legal complaint against the Boy Scouts.
Green said not much will change at Troop 11. The group is made up of 31 diverse members, and has proud of a history of being inclusive.
“A scout is supposed to be kind, courteous and friendly,” said Green. “That is what we try to do.”
“I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of great experiences,” said Thomas Hill, an Eagle Scout. “I’m glad anyone who wants the same experiences and learn the same things will be able to.”
In the past, the Boy Scouts of America has come under fire for LGBT issues. However, in 2015, it lifted a ban on gay adults as Scout Leaders. Three years ago, the organization allowed gay boys to join. Both decisions were controversial at the time.
The change regarding transgender individuals goes into effect immediately.