The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced yesterday, on the International Day of the Girl, that they will begin to allow girls to become Cub Scouts and for older girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout beginning in 2018.
NBC News is reporting on the announcement which was made after the scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the change to an organization that has been primarily for boys for more than 100 years.
The Scouts began offering co-ed programs in 1971. For example, girls are a part of both the Venturing and Sea Scouting programs which are geared toward outdoor activities. Exploring is a career-oriented mentoring program and STEM focuses on science and math. But until now, none of those programs offered a path forward to Eagle Scout for girls.
This will all change in 2019 when the organization hopes to make a new program available for older girls that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
In the meantime, beginning next year, young girls will be permitted to join Cub Scout dens, which is the smallest unit, and these will become single-gender, either all male or all female. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to welcome both genders if they choose.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” the Boy Scouts said in a news release.
“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,” the release stated.
The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, numerous research efforts, and input from current members and leaders in an attempt to better understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all of their children, BSA says.
“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,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “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.”
As NBC reports, earlier this year, the National Organization for Women urged the Boy Scouts to admit girls to the entire program, supporting the efforts of a New York teenager, Sydney Ireland, to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, as her older brother did.
“I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do — earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award,” she told NBC News. “The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it’s just not the program that I want to be part of. I think girls should just have the opportunity to be a member of any organization they want regardless of gender.”
The embattled Girl Scouts of America is understandably against the idea of admitting girls into the Boy Scouts, citing research which shows that many girls learn best in an all-female environment.
However, in recent years, the Girl Scouts have adopted liberal ideological views that have cost them significant numbers in membership and caused some Catholic dioceses in the U.S. to stop supporting them. This has caused the rise of interest in other programs, such as American Heritage Girls and our own Young Women of Grace program.
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