On Oct. 11, the Boy Scouts of America announced the largest policy shift in the organization’s history. The Boy Scouts announced that their plans to broadly integrate girls into the organization. The New York Times reports that BSA’s membership has declined over the past few decades and admitting girls into its programs could boost its membership and make many parent’s lives easier as they may only need to participate in one organization for both sons and daughters.
Boy Scout officials are championing the decision as an opportunity for girls to develop leadership and discipline skills like their male scout counterparts. Plans were revealed to allow girls to become Cub Scouts, the organization’s youth arm by next year with opportunities for girls to become more senior members of the scouting community in 2019.
Reactions to the decision were mixed, among the harshest critics were the Girl Scouts, saying that girls thrive in all female groups. However, many Scout Leaders seem optimistic about the change, one Eagle Scout in Michigan said he was “super-excited” about the policy shift according to The New York Times; although, he admits complications may arise in co-ed camping outings.
The Boy Scouts have seen a sliding membership since the 1990s and has sought to remedy it by lifting various restrictions. In 2013, the organization allowed for openly gay boys to join the organization. In 2015 ,the Boy Scouts permitted openly gay men to become scout leaders. In January, the Boy Scouts opened its doors to transgender members and in October the Boy Scouts announced their plans to allow girls into the organization, perhaps the largest change of all.
Parents and daughters “with less traditionally feminine interests” are enjoying the new decision as the Girl Scouts have been criticized for having an agenda that is too feminine and that unfairly emphasizes gender roles.