Soon, girls can join Cub Scout ac­tiv­i­ties

Older kids will have new pro­grams in ’19

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Kur­tis Lee

The Boy Scouts of Amer­ica an­nounced 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.

In the his­toric move, Cub Scout dens — the small­est unit — will be sin­gle-gen­der, ei­ther all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, which are larger and in­clude a num­ber of dens, will have the op­tion to welcome both gen­ders if they choose.

The Boy Scouts board of direc­tors voted unan­i­mously for the change Wednesday.

“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,” Michael Sur­baugh, the group’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said in a state­ment.

He added, “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 — de-

velop­ing char­ac­ter and lead­er­ship for young peo­ple — to as many fam­i­lies and youth as pos­si­ble as we help shape the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers.”

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

In a state­ment, the group said that after “years of re­ceiv­ing re­quests from fam­i­lies and girls,” it “eval­u­ated the re­sults of nu­mer­ous re­search ef­forts” and came to its de­ci­sion.

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.

Re­cently, the Boy Scouts an­nounced that it will al­low trans­gen­der chil­dren who iden­tify as boys to en­roll in its boys-only pro­grams.

In re­cent years, the group has found it­self em­broiled in larger national de­bates about gen­der roles and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. These de­bates, in turn, have led the Boy Scouts — which has about 2.3 mil­lion mem­bers — to ex­am­ine longheld poli­cies that date to its found­ing days more than a cen­tury ago. In some in­stances, change has come swiftly; in oth­ers, only after years of le­gal bat­tles.

Sur­veys con­ducted by the Boy Scouts showed strong sup­port for the change among par­ents not cur­rently con­nected to the Scouts, in­clud­ing His­panic and Asian fam­i­lies that the BSA has been try­ing to at­tract. Among fam­i­lies al­ready in the Scout­ing com­mu­nity, the big­gest worry, Sur­baugh said, was that the pos­i­tive as­pects of sin­gle­sex com­rade­ship might be jeop­ar­dized.

“We’ll make sure those en­vi­ron­ments are pro­tected,” he said. “What we’re pre­sent­ing is a fairly unique hy­brid model.”

Dur­ing the out­reach, some par­ents ex­pressed con­cern about pos­si­ble prob­lems re­lated to overnight camp­ing trips. Sur­baugh said there would con­tinue to be a ban on mixed-gen­der overnight out­ings for Scouts ages 11 to 14. Cub Scout camp­ing trips, he noted, were usu­ally fam­ily af­fairs with less need for rigid po­lices.

In­for­ma­tion from The As­so­ci­ated Press was used in this re­port.

JAKE MAY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will be­gin ad­mit­ting girls un­der a change adopted Wednesday.

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