Administrators from the Boy Scouts of America revealed a plan to broaden the program’s scope, allowing girls to join what was previously a male-only club. Changes will include both a specialized program for older girls and an adjustment to the guidelines allowing girls to achieve the organization’s prestigious and highest award, Eagle Rank. Several of the changes will require long-term planning, and thus, won’t be fully implemented until 2018. Others (like program access) will be implemented right away.
Rather than forming co-ed “dens” or chapters, boys and girls will have their own individual groups instead.
The organization’s newfound willingness to include girls is welcomed by Americans who have campaigned for the change since the mid-90s, including the National Organization for Women. Boy Scouts was originally founded on February 8, 1910, has been limited to only boys for over 100 years.
CEO Michael Surbaugh delivered the news on Wednesday, after a unanimous vote by the Boy Scouts’ governing board showed full support for the change. Surbaugh believes the newfound support reflects their desire to better serve American families in the face of rapidly-changing needs.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children.”
When Boy Means Boy
Not all Americans support the change. Some Americans are shaking their heads, wondering what happened to the “Boy” in Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts of America leaders were incensed by the decision. Leaders accused the Boy Scouts of enacting little more than a politically correct mistake in a public statement released shortly after the original announcement.
“The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire. 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.”
Boy Scouts of America denies these accusations, claiming that they have “offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring and the Venturing program.” They assert that the changes are simply an extension of that prior access to better accommodate changing American families.