Boy Scouts to admit girls into programs

Carla Harmon
October 11, 2017

The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday that it will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls using the organization's same curriculum.

The Girl Scouts of America, which is separate and independent of the Boy Scouts, has been the primary scouting alternative for girls, and claims a membership of 1.8 million.

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children", said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts. Dens, or the units of the Cub Scouts, will therefore remain single-gender.

The Boy Scouts board of directors, which approved the plan unanimously in a meeting at BSA headquarters in Texas, said the change was needed to provide more options for parents. Soon, young girls will have the opportunity to become Cub Scouts and even rise through the ranks to earn the highest honor of becoming Eagle Scouts.

The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

In explaining the decision, the board said it took the realities of a busy family life into consideration.

"The values of Scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, courageous and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women", he said.

The organization has been primarily for boys since it was founded more than 100 years ago. Over the years, the BSA has opened its doors to openly gay scouts (2013), then openly gay scout leaders (2015), then transgender boys (2017), and now girls. After consideration, the Church announced it would remain a sponsoring member of the BSA, although it would make its own decisions about who to appoint as scout leaders. "The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it's just not the program I want to be apart of". "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 said it has 2.3 million youth members, down about a third since 2000.

The Boy Scouts already has certain co-ed programs in place, including Venturers and Sea Scouts, both billed as character-building programs, and Exploring, which focuses on career-building.

GSUSA reported almost 1.6 million youth members as of March, down from just over 2 million youth members in 2014.

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