Todd Starnes

8-year-old Joe Maldonado is a boy. Joe is transgender. Joe has been attending school as a boy for over a year.

About a month after joining Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus, New Jersey Joe’s mother, Kristie Maldonado was contacted by a scouting official who informed her that Joe was ineligible because it is only for boys. Mrs. Maldonado tried to explain that her son is a boy but the guy was cocky and arrogant. He simply refused to even listen to what she was trying to explain.

Not one of the kids had any problem with Joe. Some idiotic parent complained. Exactly what danger Joe posed to his or her son is unknown. It is safe to assume that the parent had a religious objection coupled with ignorance.

Joe Maldonado and his mother Kristie

Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/

Enter the Village Idiot

Todd Starnes is Fox News’ culture warrior and religious ignoramus. He writes: “Cub Scouts Facing Controversial ‘Transgender Crisis’.” “Crisis” means two things. Someone is different and that difference is incompatible with Starnes’ literalist take on scripture which amounts to selective observation unless he is into murdering bratty children and … all the rest of the Bronze Age nonsense that they conveniently forget about.

The Cub Scouts are facing a transgender controversy after an 8-year-old who was born a girl but identifies as a boy was asked to leave a New Jersey pack.

Several readers alerted me to this story from Secaucus, New Jersey. Before I get into the heart of the issue, I want to explain why I have chosen not to identify the parent or the child.

I find it reprehensible that a grown woman would parade her child in front of the national media to advance some sort of cultural agenda. This parent is sacrificing her child’s privacy and innocence for 15 minutes of fame. And I refuse to give the woman the satisfaction of reading her name in print.

I am pretty sure that Mrs. Maldonado doesn’t much care about Starnes’ opinion. Furthermore, Mr. Starnes is apparently a mind reader because he has been able to ascertain Mrs. Maldonado’s motivations for bringing this matter to light. Like many conservative Christians Starnes is enamored of his own self importance.

The 8-year-old, who had been a member of the scouting group for about a month, was kicked out of Cub Scout Pack 87 because she is transgender. Local news accounts indicate an unknown number of parents were upset their sons were in a scouting group with a girl who identifies as a boy.

“How dare they judge me?” the child told The Record newspaper. “I don’t have to explain it. It’s the way I’m born.”

Intentionally using the wrong pronouns for a transgender person is exceptionally disrespectful. Parents of trans children have said that it does violence to their kids. We get it — Starnes does not approve. Using the wrong pronouns is a petty way to demonstrate that disapproval. Starnes’ approval was neither solicited nor required. It is that sense of self-importance that makes Starnes think that his approval is indispensable when it is, in reality, irrelevant.

But the Boy Scouts of America defended the child’s ouster, pointing out to the newspaper [NY Daily News] the “child does not meet the requirements to participate in this program.”

“Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation,” BSA spokesperson Effie Delimarkos told the New York Daily News.

In other words, the child was not kicked out for being transgender. The child was kicked out for not being a boy.

My coffee pot makes more sense than Starnes. The child was kicked out because he is a transgender boy which means that he was kicked out because he is transgender. The guy from the Boy Scouts is correct in that gender identity is not sexual orientation — a difference that seems to confuse many religious conservatives. Nevertheless the same principle should apply. Joe just wants to have some fun with the other boys. Why on earth does it matter that he is trans?

“It made me mad,” the child told The Record. “I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.”

I give Starnes some measure of credit for including the quote. The kid is pretty smart, not to mention self-aware. But Starnes being Starnes:

Sooner rather than later, I suspect the Boy Scouts may face a legal challenge over its transgender policy. And the Boy Scouts will face further controversies when the organization is forced to confront non-binary scouts, gender-fluid scouts and genderless scouts.

“Genderless?” There would be no controversy if we just left it to the kids to sort out. Starnes is determined and persistent in characterizing the offended Christians as victims. The real victims are the kids like Joe who find themselves unfairly excluded. I doubt that the Boy Scouts want to revisit Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (Evan Wolfson, by the way, represented Dale). I would think that Joe Maldonado actually has a better case than Dale because the Scouts would have to demonstrate that “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” I suspect that the Scouts will make the logical and kind decision here and avoid costly litigation.

The Girl Scouts already allow boys who identify as girls to sell Tagalongs and Thin Mints.

So do not be surprised if the Boy Scouts of America capitulate. They’ve already done it once before—sacrificing their long-cherished values on the altar of tolerance and diversity.

Why is it so damned difficult to write “transgender girls” instead of “boys who identify as girls?” The answer, of course, is that this just one more petty way for Starnes to demonstrate his gratuitous disapproval. And what, exactly, was sacrificed in allowing gay boys to be Scouts? Starnes uses tolerance and diversity in the pejorative. In point of fact those are important values that the boys will take with them into adulthood.

That’s why so many families are getting involved in organizations like American Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA. Both are faith-based scouting organizations built on a firm spiritual foundation.

Trail Life USA was founded in 2013 in the aftermath of the BSA’s decision to forego their core values for the sake of political expedience. Since then, they have experienced explosive growth—with more than 26,000 members.

Both are explicitly Christian organizations. Trail Life effectively (yet unofficially) discourages non-Christians from joining. These are religious groups. They are attractive to a certain kind of parent. I am sure that they appreciate the plug for parents who disapprove of LGBT people.

Missing from Starnes’ diatribe

I find it interesting (although expected) that Starnes does not provide a single reason for excluding a trans boy from the Cub Scouts. We are left to assume that it offends his Christian sensitivities. We are becoming kinder and fairer; Starnes cannot cope.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.