Boy Scouts Of America To Allow Girls To Join, Earn Eagle Scout Rank
(Reuters) - In a historic shift, the Boy Scouts of America will let girls enroll in Cub Scouts starting next year and allow them to eventually earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout, the organization said on Wednesday.
The unanimous decision by the 100-year-old group’s board of directors came after years of requests from families and girls, it said, though the announcement prompted a largely negative reaction on social media.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” Boy Scouts Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has lost about a third of its members since 2000, which now stands at 2.3 million. BSA insisted that allowing girls was in response to the needs of families, not related to declining membership.
The Girl Scouts of the USA said girls thrive in a girl-only environment, and that “we are girl experts.”
Starting in 2018, the Boy Scouts will allow girls to join the 7- to 10-year-old Cub Scouts. Small, community-level “dens” will be single-gender. Larger “packs,” which are comprised of dens, will decide whether to include dens of each gender or not, the BSA said.
In a program to be announced next year and projected to start in 2019, girls will follow the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts, which are for ages 11-17.
Surbaugh in a tweet said, “Today, the BSA opens a new chapter in our history w/a unanimous vote to welcome girls to Cub through Eagle Rank.”