Girl Scouts of Colorado Flip-Flops on Allowing Boy to Join

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9NEWS Denver

Seven-year-old Bobby Montoya likes to play with dolls and wear girls’ clothes. But it’s his “boy parts” that led a Colorado Girl Scouts leader to deny him entry to the group, despite the fact that he identifies as a girl.

Three weeks ago, Bobby’s mother Felisha Archuleta took her son to a Girl Scout troop meeting and asked a leader if he could join. While she expected the leader to be understanding, Archuleta told ABC News that the woman instead “humiliated” Bobby, driving him to tears.

“I said, ‘Well, what’s the big deal?’ She said ‘It doesn’t matter how he looks, he has boy parts, he can’t be in Girl Scouts,'” Archuleta told Denver’s 9NEWS, which originally reported the story.

According to Archuleta, Bobby has been identifying as a girl since he was about 2 years old. He likes to dress and behave as a girl, even though it’s caused him to be bullied at school. And here’s the tearjerker quote of the day: “It’s hurting my heart. It hurts me and my mom both,” Bobby told 9NEWS of the bullying. (Watch the full story above.)

(SPECIAL: What You Need to Know About Bullying)

Archuleta has supported Bobby in letting him dress and behave as he likes, telling ABC News, “I believe he was born in the wrong body.” She even threw him a Rapunzel-themed party for his seventh birthday.

But what Bobby really wanted was to join the Girl Scouts, just like his older sister. Since the incident with the troop leader, the Girl Scouts of Colorado released the following statement saying that they welcome Bobby and other children who may be transgendered:

“Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and 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. 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. 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.”

But after the family’s initial experience, Archuleta isn’t rushing to sign Bobby up just yet.

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“They haven’t called me directly,” Archuleta told ABC News on Thursday. “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.”

While there are no exact statistics on how many children experience gender-identity issues, according to the nonprofit Gender Spectrum, individuals become conscious of their sex between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, which is why many children who experience gender confusion say they’ve felt that way for as long as they can remember. And despite differing opinions on the subject, Gender Spectrum notes that gender confusion is not caused by anything and is not curable. Research has shown that gender is to an extent “hardwired” in the brain from birth.

Whatever way the Girl Scout cookie crumbles, it’s refreshing to see a parent who supports her child, no matter what.

Erin Skarda is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ErinLeighSkarda. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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