Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America took a big step toward inclusivity by opening the door for transgender boys to join the organization, which currently includes approximately 2.3 million members between the ages of seven and 21. And now the board of directors has unanimously agreed to welcome girls into the program as well.
Starting next year, girls will be allowed to enroll in the Cub Scouts program. A separate program for older girls, which will enable them to pursue the rank of Eagle Scout, will be announced in 2018 for a projected 2019 launch. “Dens” will still be segregated by gender, but “packs” of dens can be mixed.
“The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement. “[T]he organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting — to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.”
Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, added in a press release that the organization hopes to guide the next generation of leaders, regardless of gender. “This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Surbaugh said in the release. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best — developing character and leadership for young people — to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”
According to the BSA’s website, they’ll do that “by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun” — a mission that has guided the organization since its founding in 1910.
“Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing,” the BSA explained in its press release.
Not everyone is happy about the decision, though. According to BuzzFeed News, the Girl Scouts of the USA wrote a letter objecting to the change back in August. And Lisa Margosian, the Chief Customer Officer with the Girl Scouts, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday that they were “disappointed in the way the BSA handled this.” Margosian explained: “We’ve enjoyed a strong relationship and partnership with them over the years and we’re disappointed that the BSA didn’t discuss this with us to say, ‘We’re having trouble with our membership.'”
What do you think about the fact that the Boy Scouts will now welcome girls into their organization? Let us know @BritandCo.
(Photo via George Frey/Getty)