The Boy Scouts of America has announced that, starting in 2018, it will accept girls into its leadership development programs.
According to a BSA press release, the unanimous decision by the organization's board of directors was the result of years of requests from and conversations with families and girls — conversations which drove home the message that dual-earner families and single-parent households need children's programs to be more convenient and broadly appealing. Although BSA has offered co-educational opportunities since 1971 through its Exploring and Venturing programs, starting next year families will be able to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. With the change, existing Cub packs will be able to 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 remain single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization also will deliver a program for older girls starting in 2019 that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
"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, 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."
The announcement "blindsided" the Girl Scouts, Lisa Margosian, chief customer officer of Girl Scouts of the USA, told the New York Times. "We've had a hundred and five years of supporting girls and a girl-only safe space," said Margosian. "So much of a girl's life is...in a coed environment, and we have so much research and data that suggests that girls really thrive in an environment where they can experiment, take risks, and stretch themselves in the company of other girls."