PHOENIX, AZ — A Payson summer camp says it’s seeking help from experts after a 9-year old transgender boy was told he couldn’t attend.
“There is something to be said for recognizing when you don't have enough education yet," said Kryss Shane.
Shane is an LGBTQ training and education expert and associate teacher at Columbia University.
While she supports the camp's decision regarding additional training, she disagrees with how the situation all played out. "This shouldn't happen, there's no reason that this camp couldn't have been prepared," said Shane.
The nine-year-old was set to attend Tonto Creek Camp in Payson after receiving a $400 scholarship from Arizona Friends of Foster Care.
His foster mother reached out to ABC15 after receiving an email from the camp’s CEO telling her he couldn't attend.
"He's just a kid who wants to be a kid and at this point, I can't even tell him why he's not allowed to go," said the boy's foster mother Amber Checky.
The camp said they weren't prepared to accommodate the young man's needs and camp counselors required additional training in order to offer the little boy a proper experience.
Checky says he was born a little girl, but in his heart and mind, he identifies as a boy. She requested for him to be able to stay in the boy's cabins and have a private changing room.
"Camps are now recognizing that their need to be training programs," said Shane.
Shane has now offered to come to the camp and host the training herself. "Some of it is basic education, what does the word transgender mean, and what questions are appropriate to ask a child," said Shane.
She adds when it comes to sleeping arrangements, camps should also consider dividing campers by means other than gender. "If there are safety plans and precautions in place when you get a group of young kids together and you want them to go to sleep, all those rules are the same, the supervision is gonna be the same,” said Shane.
Tonto Creek Camp says they plan to be prepared to host trans campers by next summer.
In a statement to ABC15, Tonto Creek Camp CEO Tom Frazer says they’re making strides to make a change. He also addressed whether the camp would welcome trainers.
“We are exploring a number of professionals to conduct training in this matter for next year. American Camp Association has sent us a number of resources and sessions, a referral from a foster agency and also we had a discussion with
Amber Checky yesterday, who you did the interview with, about meeting in the fall to discuss options. We are exploring and open to different options.”