Boy Scouts welcome girls

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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 gen­der-free 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 cen­tury-old 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.”

Flint Journal/mlive.com/the AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS The

On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica Board of Direc­tors unan­i­mously ap­proved to welcome girls into its Cub Scout pro­gram and to de­liver a Scout­ing pro­gram for older girls.

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