The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will allow girls into the Cub Scouts and create a new program for older girls that will let them achieve the top rank of Eagle Scout.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive said in a statement Wednesday. “The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women. 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.”
The BSA said that the measure is intended to help busy families by creating a “convenient program that serves the whole family,” but the devil is in the details.
“Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts,” Surbaugh said in his statement. “Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”
The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. voiced their disapproval of the move more than a month ago when the Boy Scouts announced that they were considering the move.
In a strongly-worded letter to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts National President Hopinkah Hannan said that the BSA’s inclusion of girls is “a potentially dangerous and bad idea” and accused them of doing so to reverse declining membership numbers.
“It is inherently dishonest to claim to be a single gender organization while simultaneously endeavoring upon a coed model,” Hannan wrote in the letter. “Rather than seeking to fundamentally transform BSA into a co-ed program, we believe strongly that Boy Scouts should instead take steps to ensure that they are expanding the scope of their programming to all boys, including those who BSA has historically underserved and underrepresented, such as African American and Latino boys,” she added.
“We are disheartened to see the Girl Scouts pull away from the possibility of cooperation to help address the needs of today’s busy families,” Boy Scouts Spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos told Buzzfeed.