It’s been a big year for the Boy Scouts of America. The organization announced they would accept transgender boys in early 2017 following the negative press they received when a transgender boy was kicked out of his troop once parents learned that he was not assigned male at birth. Shortly after, the first transgender boy became an official member of the Boy Scouts, and now the Boy Scouts of America announced yesterday that girls are also welcome to join.
Beginning in 2018, both boys and girls will be allowed to sign up for the Cub Scouting program, which runs from first through fifth grade. Existing Cub Scout packs have the choice to stay all boys, create two dens – one for boys and one for girls or create a new girl pack. Cub Scout dens will not be co-ed, however both genders will follow the same curriculum program, making them equal opportunity.
“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,” the official press release announced. “This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”
What many do not know is that the Boy Scouts of America have had a handful of co-ed programs dating back to 1971, including Exploring and the Venturing program as well as a pilot STEM program.
“‘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,’ said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, according to a press release from the organization. ‘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 Boy Scouts of America site reasons for this change to include catering to single parents and working families who lack the time to drop multiple children off in multiple locations, and want a family activity they can take all their children to at once.
While the organization has received the inevitable backlash, the group most opposed appears to be the Girl Scouts.
“The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire,” Girl Scouts told ABC News in a statement today. “Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls.”
Featured image via the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council