The Girl Scouts of Colorado has flip-flopped on a decision not to let a 7-year-old boy join their organization, now saying he is welcome even though he’s not a girl.
Bobby Montoya plays with Barbie dolls and My Little Ponies. He’s a boy, but dresses and identifies as a girl. And just like his older sister, he decided he wanted to join the Girl Scouts.
But that wasn’t quite so easy, when a local troop leader told the family three weeks ago Bobby couldn’t join because he has “boy parts.”
“I said, ‘Well, what’s the big deal?’” Felisha Archuleta, Bobby’s mom, told Denver NBC affiliate KUSA-TV this week. “She said ‘It doesn’t matter how he looks, he has boy parts, 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.’”
Bobby, who has been playing with girl toys since he was 2 years old, was left in tears when he was first told he couldn’t join the organization.
“It was like somebody told me I can’t like girl stuff, and I have to change my name to something else,” he said.
But the Girl Scouts of Colorado issued a statement to the TV station, saying they are an inclusive organization and will accept Bobby. The troop leader who turned him away made a mistake and the situation is being rectified.
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
Archuleta told ABC News she’s still waiting for an official call, and an apology, from the Girl Scouts.
“They haven’t called me directly,” Archuleta said. “When I talked to the top [person], I said Bobby wants to be in the Girl Scouts, but have a different leader. She never called me back and only said they would give [the local leader who rejected him] sensitivity classes.”
Archuleta said she believes her son was born in the wrong body. At first she thought he would grow out of identifying as a girl, but since that hasn’t happened she said she completely supports him.
Bobby had only dressed as a boy in school, ABC reported, until the incident happened. Since the confrontation, he has started dressing and identifying as a girl in public.
Archuleta said it’s been a learning experience for her son.
“He told me that since this all happened, ‘Mom, you are right. They can’t be mean to me. I am a human being like everyone else,” she said.
Corey Barrett of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Colorado told KUSA his organization is starting to see young people exploring their gender identity at earlier ages.
“There has definitely been this increase of questioning at an early age,” he told the station, “I think it’s all about providing a healthy environment for them for that to happen. Everyone needs to be prepared or at least have an idea from a policy and procedure stand point how they’re going to address that. And make sure that the public is aware of that.”