The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will now allow girls to join their cub scout program which will enable them to advance to the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
The organization’s board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change to the group that has been for boys since its founding over 100 years ago.
“Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.
The BSA expands programs to welcome girls from Cub Scouts to highest rank of Eagle Scout https://t.co/WbFQxCXZBN
— Boy Scouts – BSA (@boyscouts) October 11, 2017
“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 the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh.
“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,” he continued.
Starting in 2018, young girls will be able to join cub scout units. The historic decision reportedly comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls.
Girls are now part of four scouting programs — Venturing and Sea Scouting, geared toward outdoor activities; Exploring, a career-oriented mentoring program; and STEM, focusing on science and math. But those programs have not offered a path to Eagle Scout for girls.
Earlier this year, the National Organization for Women urged the Boy Scouts to admit girls to the entire program, supporting the efforts of a New York teenager, Sydney Ireland, to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, as her older brother did.
“I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do — earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award,” she told NBC News. “The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it’s just not the program that I want to be part of. I think girls should just have the opportunity to be a member of any organization they want regardless of gender.”
In the past, the Girl Scouts have been cool to the idea of admitting girls into the Boy Scouts, citing research which showed that many girls learn best in an all-female environment.
“We are unparalleled in our ability to build great female leaders who contribute to society at every level,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a psychologist who helps guide the Girl Scouts.