Boy Scouts Finally Allows Girls to Join in Historic Change

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For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has served as an organization that works to bring young boys and men together in the name of friendship, charity, and exploration. Like many older organizations, it has been a little slower to implement certain updates in the name of progress. But its most recent change -- which will officially allow young girls to be admitted in the Cub and Boy Scouts -- is a major adjustment that many have been waiting for. 

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Not only will girls soon be able to join the Cub Scouts, but as equal members they will also have a chance to become Eagle Scouts -- the scouts' highest honorary rank. Instead of complete integration, BSA will still separate scout units by gender. "Cub Scout dens will be single-gender -- all boys or all girls," the organization said in an official statement.

These changes will take effect in 2018, starting with the younger boys and girls. Programs for older girls wishing to earn the Eagle Scout rank will be made available sometime in 2019. 

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Girls have been allowed to join Venturing and Sea Scouts -- which are two BSA divisions that involve outdoor activity -- for some time. They're also welcome in the Exploring division, which is a program centered around math and science with a focus on career-based mentoring and STEM. Still, none of these divisions have previously allowed girls to follow the path to becoming Eagle Scouts. 

In January 2017, BSA announced that it was opening membership to transgender boys and accepting children based on gender identity. Allowing girls to join is the next step to fostering an inclusive environment that allows all children to earn badges together. 

Organization officials say that these changes are meant to reflect the changing of the times. After conducting two separate nationwide surveys, BSA found that parents who were not currently involved in scouting had keen interest in signing their daughters up for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. 

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children," Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts, told NBC News

Although these changes certainly seem to signal positive, forward-thinking mobility, not everyone is happy about them. In August, Buzzfeed gained access to a letter written by Girl Scouts of the USA president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, criticizing BSA for attempting to poach girl scouts in an effort to make up for "declining membership."

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"Rather than seeking to fundamentally transform BSA into a co-ed program, we believe strongly that Boy Scouts should instead take steps to ensure that they are expanding the scope of their programming to all boys, including those who BSA has historically underserved and underrepresented, such as African American and Latino boys," she wrote. 

Whether or not you question the motivation behind the BSA's new inclusive membership guidelines, it is important to remember the kids who will be benefiting from it. Allowing girls the chance to be a part of organizations that cater to their varied interests is an amazing thing. With its rules about den separation, these changes shouldn't have huge effects on any existing or new "all-boy" dens. We are certainly excited to see how the organization and its participants adjust in the face of this transformation. 

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