An 8-year-old New Jersey transgender boy who sued his local New Jersey Boy Scouts' Council after he was kicked out of his Cub Scout troop says he's thrilled with the Boy Scouts announcement Monday that it will allow transgender children to enroll.
The Boy Scouts of America says it will now allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs.
The organization says that it had made the decision to base enrollment in boys only programs on the gender a child or parent lists on the application to become a scout. The organization had previously held a policy that relied on the gender listed on a child's birth certificate.
A spokeswoman for the organization says it made the decision based on states and communities changing how gender is defined.
"Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application," said Effie Delimarkos, director of communications for the Boy Scouts of America.
Eight-year-old Joe Maldonado of Secaucus, New Jersey, was asked late last year to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. The boy sued his local New Jersey Boy Scouts' Council for discrimination.
"I really don't know why. It's just no fair," he told NBC 4 New York in December, excitedly recalling the science experiments he performed in the Scouts, and the barbecues they had.
Now he's proud of what his fight has led to.
"We weren't just fighting so I could go in, we were fighting so this doesn't happen to anybody else," Joe told NBC 4 New York Monday. "And now it looks like it won't happen to anyone else. It better not."
His mother said Joe has identified as a boy since he was two years old. She says she's still angry with the local Scouts leadership and isn't sure Joe will return right away.
"It didn't make sense to me why my kid, why he couldn't be in the Scouts," said Kristie Maldonado. "If everybody else can, why can't he?"
But she's still proud that her smart, outspoken son is making change at such a young age: the third-grader turns nine years old on Wednesday.
"I'm so happy that he could stick up for himself, because I know it's not going to be an easy life for him," she said. "So if he could do it at eight, it's going to get easier for him."