Officials with the Boys Scouts of America have announced that beginning in 2018, the organization will accept girls as members.
Existing packs will decide whether to remain all-boys, to go co-ed or to create all-girl divisions, NPR reports, adding that Cub Scout dens — smaller units of six to eight kids within packs — will remain single-gender.
BSA officials also noted that the organization intends to create a path by which older girls can join and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. They hope to have that program in place by 2019. They said this plan “maintain[s] the integrity of the single-gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”
BSA officials said the decision comes after years of requests from families, especially “dual earners” and single-parent households for whom programs serving the entire family is more convenient. They also said the change is geared toward Hispanic and Asian families, which are “currently underserved [and] prefer to participate in activities as a family.”
Officials with Girl Scouts of America, however, are less than pleased with the announcement. They have accused BSA of running “a covert campaign to recruit girls,” and said that a co-ed model goes against “research supporting single gender programming.”
After years of diligently refusing membership to “open or avowed homosexuals” as either scouts or adults leaders, BSA changed its policy in May 2013 to allow openly-gay boys to become scouts. It took another two years — until July 2015 — for BSA to end its ban on openly-gay adult leaders.
— Tammye Nash