Boy Scouts To Allow Girls To Join Program For First Time In History

In a landmark and historic decision, the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America has agreed — unanimously — to allow girls into the organization’s Cub Scout program. In addition, older girls will be given a path to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. As CNN reports, the Boy Scouts released a public statement on October 11 to announce the game-changing policy change.

In their statement, the Boy Scouts of America attributed the decision to “years of receiving requests,” both from girls and their families. The organization, which boasts roughly 2.3 million youth-aged members between the ages of 7- and 21-years-old, as well as nearly 1 million volunteers, added that the policy change announced Wednesday is also intended to help busy families accommodate their children’s “character development needs” more easily and conveniently.

“The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls. [T]he organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting — to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children. Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing.”

Wednesday’s announcement is far from the first time that the Boy Scouts of America organization has become prominently embroiled in the so-called “politics of gender.” Over the last several years, the organization (largely facilitated by religious groups across the United States and its territories) has found itself unwittingly thrust in the middle of the myriad of issues facing LGBTQ rights.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, prior to today’s announcement, the Boy Scouts opted to allow openly gay scouts to join the organization in 2013. In 2016, the organization ended its ban on openly gay scout leaders. Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would allow transgender youth who identify as male to join. At about the same time as the Boy Scouts announced that it would allow trans youth into its programs, the LDS (Mormon) Church announced that it would be cutting ties with the organization’s teen programs, despite being the Boy Scouts’ single largest partner.

According to the church, the decision had nothing to do with the Boy Scouts’ change of tone on LGBT issues. Instead, an LDS church statement blamed the fact that Boy Scouts had been “historically difficult to implement within the Church,” adding that the church would be rolling out its own teen programs to replace Boy Scouts, reports the Washington Post. In response to today’s announcement, the LDS church publicly stated that it will not be making changes to its Young Women’s activities to mirror the new, more inclusive scouting policy for girls.

Despite recent changes, the Boy Scouts of America (founded in 1910) continued to exclude girls from its ranks. That is, until today’s announcement.

Scout leaders across America have overwhelmingly come out in support of the new policy change that will allow girls to join Cub Scouts and even earn the rank of Eagle Scout, with many taking to social media to share their thoughts about the somewhat shocking reversal of policy.

While Boy Scout leaders have expressed an overwhelming level of support for the new plan to allow girls to integrate into the program, not everybody is happy with the change. Many have taken to social media to share their disdain of and criticism for the new policy. Some social media users immediately politicized the sweeping change.

Not everyone on social media took the opportunity to hate on the new Boy Scouts policy to allow girls into the rank and file.

What do you think about the new Boy Scouts policy? Are you the parent or guardian of a Scout? Would you let your daughter join the Boy Scouts now that it’s an option? Could the new integration of boys and girls cause you to remove your children from the organization or perhaps even stop donating to the Boy Scouts of America? Let us know in the comments below.

[Featured Image by Mary Altaffer/AP Images]