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US Boy Scouts buck tradition

January 31, 2017

One of the largest US youth organizations is making a major change to its identity. The Boy Scouts have made strides recently in welcoming members of the LGBT community into the fold.

USA Pfadfinder lassen homosexuelle Mitglieder zu
A member of Scouts for Equality holds an unofficial patch containing a symbol for LGBT rightsImage: Getty Images

One of the largest youth organizations in the US said on Monday it was allowing transgender children who identify as boys to join for the first time.

For years, the Boy Scouts of America had made its decision on who could join based on a child's birth certificate. Now, the organization said it will decide according to the gender a parent lists on the application form.

"We realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient," said Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh in a statement. "Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently. And these new laws vary widely from state to state."

Activists praise the move

Zach Wahls, co-founder of advocacy group Scouts for Equality, which has lobbied for the inclusion of members of the LGBT community in the organization, hailed the decision on Twitter.

Human Rights Campaign, another pro-LGBT advocacy organization, also praised the move.

The Boy Scouts said the new enrollment policy would go into effect immediately.

The decision comes after the organization lifted a blanket ban in 2015 on employing openly gay troop leaders, a move that garnered criticism as well as praise. Before that, the Boy Scouts opted in 2013 to let openly gay youth join.

blc/kms (AP, AFP)