Boy Scouts welcome girls into their dens
Cub Scout dens will be either all-boys or all-girls
In its latest momentous policy shift, the Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year, and establish a new program for older girls based on the BoyScout curriculum that enables them to aspire to the coveted Eagle Scout rank.
Founded in 1910 and long considered a bastion of tradition, the Boy Scouts have undergone major changes in the past five years, agreeing to accept openly gay youth members and adult volunteers, as well as transgender boys.
The expansion of girls’ participation, announced Wednesday after unanimous approval by the organization’s board of directors, is arguably the biggest change yet, potentially opening the way for hundreds of thousands of girls to join. Many scouting organizations in other countries already allow both genders and use genderfree names such as Scouts Canada. But for now, the Boy Scout label will remain.
“There are no plans to change our name at this time,” spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said in an email.
Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single-gender or welcome both genders. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the same Eagle Scout rank that has been attained by astronauts, admirals, senators and other luminaries.
Boy Scout leaders said the change was needed to provide more options for parents.
“The values of scouting trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive.
The Girl Scouts of the USA have criticized the initiative, saying it strains the centuryold bond between the two organizations. Girl Scout officials have suggested the BSA’s move was driven partly by a need to boost revenue, and they contended there is fiscal stress in part because of past settlements paid by the BSA in sex-abuse cases.
In August, the president of the Girl Scouts, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, accused the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts’ operations. On Monday, Latino civic leader Charles Garcia, just days after being named to the Girl Scouts’ national board, wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post calling the BSA’s overture to girls “a terrible idea.”
On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America unanimously approved allowing girls into its Cub Scout program and to deliver a scouting program for older girls.