The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced on Oct. 12th that the organization will now include girls in their traditionally male-only program.
In the beginning of 2018, girls will be able to participate in the Cub Scout program for elementary school aged youth. The local Dens will still be singularly gendered, with groups of all-girl and all-boy Dens making up the Pack.
Starting in 2019, a program will be made available for all girls to achieve the highest BSA rank of Eagle Scout. While this may not equate to directly having girls in Boy Scout Troops, it does provide a clear path to achieve the prestigious rank for both girls and boys.
A BSA spokesperson stated the decision was made after parents were searching for ways to include their daughters more, and family’s limited time was cited as the reason why.
The BSA also conducted two nationwide surveys to understand public opinion on if the organization should open up to girls, and both showed “high interest” in doing so.
While there have already been several BSA-affiliated programs that incorporated women, such as Venture Scouts and Sea Scouting, both of these programs were more geared towards outdoor activities rather than the holistic goals of the regular boy scouts.
Although in the past the Girl Scouts of America have been welcoming to the idea of the BSA becoming more inclusive, there have now been disputes against the policy. The Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts are separate non-affiliated entities, and the Girl Scouts now claim the BSA is attempting to poach from their recruitment base.
The BSA has not responded to these accusations directly, but maintains that the move was made solely because of public opinion.
Amidst the controversy, the BSA are pushing forward with their vision for an extended and inclusive program for young boys and girls.