After changing its policies on LGBT members and leaders, the Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday they will begin to integrate girls into the youth organization.
Girls will be allowed to join the Cub Scouts — a Scouting program for those aged 7-12 — next year, while older girls will be allowed to join the BSA at a later date. The BSA board unanimously approved the new policy on Wednesday.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Michael Surbaugh, the group’s chief executive, said in a statement, reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Since its inception in 1910, the BSA has evolved its policies several times. Women have long fought for inclusion as scout leaders, unsuccessfully challenging the organization in court in the 1980s; the Boy Scouts eventually allowed female leaders in 1988. Gay and bisexual scouts and leaders were long banned — a Supreme Court ruling sided with the antigay policy back in 2000. Under mounting pressure, the organization admitted gay and bisexual scouts in 2013 and out Scout leaders the following year. Just this year, the BSA announced it will allow transgender boys to join the organization.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and cofounder of Scouts for Equality, released the following statement following Wednesday's news:
This is yet another step forward for the Boy Scouts of America. Girls and their families all across the country have been asking the BSA to allow girls to participate as full members and earn the same ranks and awards as their brothers. This change will allow local troops to decide the best approach for them and will eventually allow girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Five years ago, Scouts for Equality challenged the Boy Scouts of America to fully live up to its own principles and take the lead in making the organization a home to all Americans willing to live by the Scout Oath and Law. Since then, the BSA has voted to allow lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and adults. Today, the Boy Scouts have made clear they have heard the millions of girls and their families and will allow Scouts of all genders to participate as full members and earn the rank of Eagle.
We commend the Boy Scouts for taking this next step forward, and we look forward to them ending their long-standing ban on non-theists as well. While we do not believe the Boy Scouts of America should end their commitment to weaving reverence into the fabric of the program, it is long past time to end their explicit prohibition on non-believers. Where a Scout is on his or her journey with faith should be up to the Scout and his or her family and it should not preclude that Scout’s participation in the program. We call on the Boy Scouts of America to follow the path charted by the Girl Scouts to maintain its “Duty to God” commitment while ending the outright ban on non-theists.
We are proud of the Boy Scouts of America for taking this step forward, and we believe the future is bright for Scouting in America.