Changing With the Times…

The Boy Scouts of America will include girls next year


Max McManus
Celebrating the Eagle Scout distinction, seniors Justin Magill (left), Matthew
Taylor (middle), and Max McManus (right) attend McManus’s Eagle Ceremony.

For some girls, selling Thin Mints and Samoas isn’t enough. Soon, those girls will be able to explore new activities through an old program.

On Oct. 11, the Boy Scouts of America, BSA, announced it will include girls in its programs next year.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously to bring the change to its organization, citing the importance of accommodating “the character development needs” of all children and teenagers.

The BSA has offered co-ed activities since 1971 through its Exploring and Venturing program, like the STEM Scout pilot program. However, countless parents have advocated for girls to be included in all aspects of the organization, as they feel the Girl Scouts organization doesn’t offer their daughters the same opportunities as the Boy Scouts.

Agreeing with these parents, the Boy Scouts made the historical decision and will include girls aged five through 10 into the program starting in 2018.

Eagle Scout Max McManus feels that the Boy Scouts made a risky decision.

“I’m not a huge fan of the decision at all,” said McManus. “I think it’s pretty selfish of the Boy Scouts to go forward with allowing girls, especially for the reasons they did.”

Although the organization claims its reason for the change is to be more inclusive, there are speculations about that statement.

“The decision was made to help make up for the declining numbers of boys registered in the program,” said McManus. “It was strictly a financial decision, not one based on merit.”

Another reason cited for the monumental decision was the rise in single-parent households. The Board of Directors considered the fact that some parents have a difficult time juggling their children’s extracurricular activities, especially when the children are of different genders. Activities that include all members of the family, regardless of gender, are more accessible for these parents.

The packs, or troops, will become gender-inclusive, but there will be separate male dens and female dens within each pack.

According to the Boy Scouts of America website, this will “maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”

Additionally, existing packs may choose to recruit girls or remain an all-boy pack. New chapters may decide from their beginning whether or not to include girls.

“I think this is totally fair,” said Eagle Scout David Haiss. “Some troops may have different views than others, so it makes sense that the Scoutmaster would be able to choose depending on everyone else’s views on the situation.”

The program for older girls, aged 11 to 17, will be available in 2019. These girls will be eligible to earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest position in the Boy Scouts program. Requirements to become an Eagle Scout will be the same as the current requirements for boys.

“I do believe that if girls are going to be included in the Boy Scouts they should have to do the same things as boys,” said Eagle Scout Tristan Brown. “The program will have to adapt enough already. It shouldn’t need to change its requirements for rank advancement.”

In a study conducted by the Boy Scouts of America, 87 percent of parents not involved with the Boy Scouts expressed their interest in the organization allowing their daughter to get involved in programs like the Boy Scouts. Randall Stephenson, BSA’s national board chairman, has high hopes for the future of the organization.

“The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing,” said Stephenson. “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”