Beginning today, girls will be accepted into the organization formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America, which is now known as “Scouts BSA,” CNN is reporting.
For a while now and with little fanfare, girls have been joining the Boy Scouts’ junior organization, the Cub Scouts. As those girls age, they are closing in on the age at which their male colleagues can join the Boy Scouts, an option that has, for a century, been closed to them.
However, in May, the organization announced that its flagship program, formerly known as the Boy Scouts Of America, will now change its name to “Scouts BSA” and, in the process, begin accepting girls.
The curriculum for both genders will remain the same, as will the requirements for Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest rank, which CNN notes can confer a lifetime of academic and professional benefits to a young person who earns it. Uniforms will also be the same for both sexes, although there will be differences in style and fit. Meanwhile, programs will still largely be segregated along gender lines – and of course, co-ed overnight camping trips won’t be happening.
Even though today marks the official beginning of girls’ introduction into the ranks of Boy Scouts, informally there have already been several girls in the program. Already in Costa Mesa, California, is a 22-member, all-girl troop of Boy Scouts; you can see a picture of some of their members below.
Meanwhile, Florida girl Kaylee Russell, 10, tells WJXT-TV (Jacksonville) that she’s been a de facto Boy Scout for years, thanks to her brother’s troop being exceptionally welcoming to her.
“My brother was always in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. He always included me and I would do things like archery, swimming, and shooting rifles. That encouraged me that I wanted to become a scout myself.”
Kaylee’s mother, Stacey Russell, says the Boy Scouts taught her son leadership and discipline, so why shouldn’t her daughter have those same opportunities?
“I like the leadership skills they’re developing. I’ve watched them with their friends and they know what they’re supposed to do, they know how they are supposed to behave.”
Still, not everyone is as happy about the change as Russell. The Girl Scouts, which have also existed for a century or so, and which is (and will remain) exclusive to girls, does not welcome the competition. In a statement, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) noted that a girls-only club is still a good option for young lasses who want to learn scouting skills.
“[The] benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families.”