(CNSNews.com) – The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it will welcome girls into their program and “enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.”
The BSA Board of Directors, which approved the move unanimously for older girls, said the decision “comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls.”
The 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,” it said.
Starting next year, parents can sign their sons or daughters up for the Cub Scouts.
Furthermore, “Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.
“Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank,” BSA announced. “This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders,” Surbaugh added.
In explaining its decision, the Boy Scouts said, “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.”
“Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family,” it said.
BSA pointed to recent surveys that show parents whose kids are “not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts.”
The Girl Scouts panned the idea of letting girls join the Boy Scouts in August, accusing BSA of conducting a “covert campaign to recruit girls.”
In a letter to Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson, Girl Scouts President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan said, “I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts.”
She said, “It is therefore unsettling that B.S.A. would seek to upend a paradigm that has served both boys and girls so well through the years.”