The Boy Scouts of America's board of directors announced Wednesday that the organization will begin admitting girls to the Cub Scouts starting next year. A separate program will be set up to allow older girls to become Eagle Scouts — the BSA's highest rank — as well. Boy Scout leaders say the decision to include girls came after years of requests from girls and their families.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief scout executive, said in a statement. “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.”
Beginning in 2018, families can sign up any child, male or female, for the Cub Scouts. Cub Scout dens will be either all-girl or all-boy but will use the same curriculum. Scout packs, which are made up of multiple dens, will have the option of being all girls, all boys or co-ed, according to the scouts.
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"This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single-gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families," according to the scouts.
Older girls will become eligible to begin working toward Eagle Scout status in 2019.
Wednesday's decision continues BSA's moves to become more inclusive. In 2013, under the leadership of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the BSA admitted gay scouts for the first time. Two years later, gay men were allowed to become scout leaders. In February, the BSA allowed transgender boys to become scouts.