A 7-year-old Denver boy’s desire to join the Girl Scouts -- and the organization's reversal of an initial denial citing his “boy parts” -- has put a spotlight on the Scouts' little-known policy of supporting “transgender kids.”
The story of little Bobby Montoya came to light earlier this week, when his mom told a Denver TV station that Bobby's request to join his older sister in the venerable all-girl organization was denied.
“I said, ‘Well, what’s the big deal,'” Bobby’s mother, Felisha Archuleta, told KUSA. “She said, ‘It doesn’t matter how he looks. He has boy parts, and he can’t be in Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts don’t allow that [and] I don’t want to be in trouble by parents or my supervisor.'"
But the local troop leader was apparently unaware of current policies within the organization.
The Girl Scouts of Colorado released a statement this week stating that they are an “inclusive organization” and that little Bobby will be allowed to join if he wants to.
“We accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout,” according to the statement.
“Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them," the statement continued. "In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we're better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers."
Rachelle Trujillo, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of Colorado, clarified that it's not a "black-and-white policy."
"This is something we handle on a case-by-case basis,” Trujillo said. “We have reached out to Bobby’s mother, but she has said that her child does not feel comfortable join that troop. So we spoke to her about having Bobby join another troop, but she has not gotten back to us.”
Trujillo also said that the troop leader’s confusion may have arisen when Archuleta kept referring to Bobby as a boy when trying to sign the child up.
The policy has won praise from transgender groups.
“If some little kid wants to do little kid things at the Girl Scouts, then they should be allowed to,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, “This is an example of one adult who completely over reacted. Instead of being concerned about the girls’ well-being, she was concerned about what other people think. But the Girl Scouts did the right thing in overruling her.”
But others think the Girl Scouts should be more steadfast in its policies, letting boys be boys and girls be girls.
To cross that line “is child sexual abuse, the violation of children’s genetic reality aided by a society that is reverting back to the dark," said Judith A. Reisman, visiting professor of law at Liberty University School of Law. "If he has male parts, he is a male. The children in a given society always reflect its belief systems. Until the 1950s the Western world was built and run by adults largely clear about their sexuality and their beliefs. People used to ask which is stronger, nature or nurture. Now we are so 'smart' we don’t even know we have a nature.”
Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and part of Fox News' Medical A-Team -- while prefacing himself by saying, "I know a lot of experts will disagree with me" -- cautioned the Girl Scouts against welcoming boys who present themselves as girls until more data is available on any potential harm it could do.
“On the face of it, it seems to be expecting far too much psychologically of young girls to ignore the anatomy of a boy and act as though he is a girl," Ablow said. "The girls are just developing comfort with their own bodies, after all.”
He, too, called it a "form of abuse."
"This is all [putting] the cart before the horse. We're conducting social, cultural, sexual experiments on the fly, using our own kids as guinea pigs, without the necessary research to guide us," he said.