Boy Scouts Makes History Welcoming Girls to Its Ranks

In a Thursday, March 1, 2018 photo, Tatum Weir, right, poses with her twin brother Ian, left, after a cub scout meeting where they each built a tool box in Madbury, N.H. Fifteen communities in New Hampshire are part of an "early adopter" program to allow girls to become Cub …
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
PENNY STARR

A longtime American tradition ended Friday as the Boy Scouts of America officially changed its name to Scouts BSA. Now, girls ages 11 through 17 may join and participate in programs, including earning the Eagle Scout rank.

“For the first time in its 100+ year history, the iconic program of the Boy Scouts of America is open to both young men and young women,” the website states with a photo of girls accompanying the text.

“Scouts BSA is a year-round program for boys and girls in fifth grade through high school that provides fun, adventure, learning, challenge, and responsibility to help them become the best version of themselves,” the website reads.

So far, the scout oath — “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” — is still intact, as is the Scout “mission” and “law”:

Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Scout Mission: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

“Younger girls have been able to join Cub Scouts for nearly a year, and more than 77,000 joined. Now, older girls 11-17 have a path to earn the organization’s highest rank,” National Public Radio (NPR) reports.

Although the website states that the programs for teens and young adults are “coed,” most of the programs will be segregated. 

“The new older girls’ troop will be modeled on the boys’, combining the two groups for things like opening pledges and announcements. But the majority of activities and outings will be separate,” NPR reports. 

Laurel Highlands Council Scouting Executive and CEO Sharon Moulds said the most common question is whether these older scouts troops will be co-ed.

“There are girl troops, and there are boy troops,” Moulds said. “Generally what people are concerned about is they think they’re going to merge together … that’s never going to happen.”

It’s important for the development of young men and women to have separate troops, Moulds said, especially in their early teenage years when they’re learning leadership skills.

But not everyone is happy about the development, including another American tradition: Girls Scouts USA, which sued the Boy Scouts last year over their name change.

The New York Times reports:

In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court this week, the Girl Scouts argued that its fears that its brand would be damaged “have been realized” after the Boy Scouts announced plans this year to drop “boy” from its namesake program while welcoming girls into its ranks.

“We did what any brand, company, corporation or organization would do,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement, “to protect its intellectual property, the value of its brand in the marketplace and to defend its good name.”

Both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have faced declining membership in recent years, the Mercury News reports.

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