File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                FILE - In this Monday, May 29, 2017 file photo, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts salute during a Memorial Day ceremony in Linden, Mich. The Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE - In this Monday, May 29, 2017 file photo, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts salute during a Memorial Day ceremony in Linden, Mich. The Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

Boy Scouts to expand girls’ participation

NEW YORK — In its latest momentous policy shift, the Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls based on the Boy Scout curriculum that enables them to aspire to the coveted Eagle Scout rank.

Founded in 1910 and long considered a bastion of tradition, the Boy Scouts have undergone major changes in the past five years, agreeing to accept openly gay youth members and adult volunteers, as well as transgender boys.

The expansion of girls’ participation, announced Wednesday after unanimous approval by the organization’s board of directors, is arguably the biggest change yet, potentially opening the way for hundreds of thousands of girls to join.

Many scouting organizations in other countries already allow both genders and use gender-free names such as Scouts Canada. But for now, the Boy Scout label will remain.

“There are no plans to change our name at this time,” spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said in an email.

Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single gender or welcome both genders. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the same Eagle Scout rank that has been attained by astronauts, admirals, senators and other luminaries.

Boy Scout leaders said the change was needed to provide more options for parents.

“The values of scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive.

The announcement follows many months of outreach by the BSA, which distributed videos and held meetings to discuss possibility expanding girls’ participation beyond existing programs, such as Venturing, Exploring and Sea Scouts.

Surveys conducted by the Boy Scouts showed strong support for the change among parents not currently connected to the scouts, including Hispanic and Asian families that the BSA has been trying to attract. Among families already in the scouting community, the biggest worry, according to Surbaugh, was that the positive aspects of single-sex comradeship might be jeopardized.

“We’ll make sure those environments are protected,” he said. “What we’re presenting is a fairly unique hybrid model.”

During the outreach, some parents expressed concern about possible problems related to overnight camping trips. Surbaugh said there would continue to be a ban on mixed-gender overnight outings for scouts ages 11 to 14. Cub Scout camping trips, he noted, were usually family affairs with less need for rigid polices.

The Girl Scouts of the USA have criticized the initiative, saying it strains the century-old bond between the two organizations. Girl Scout officials have suggested the BSA’s move was driven partly by a need to boost revenue, and they contended there is fiscal stress in part because of past settlements paid by the BSA in sex-abuse cases.

In August, the president of the Girl Scouts, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, accused the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts’ operations.

Boy Scouts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eleven more Albertans die from COVID-19

There were 739 people in hospital, 120 in ICU on Monday

Red Deer city transit will return to full capacity this weekend. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer Transit increasing frequency of buses beginning Wednesday

Many routes will run on 30-minute intervals

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services. File photo by Advocate staff
Man critical of wife’s treatment at Red Deer hospital

An Alberta man says the recent treatment of his wife at the… Continue reading

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store fracking water

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

TRAFFICKING ARRESTS - ALERT CEO Chad Coles and Red Deer RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster recently held a press conference after a year long drug-trafficking investigation. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express
Red Deer drug trafficker sentenced to 4 1/2 years

Updated: Keegan Robinson pleaded guilty previously to trafficking cocaine

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Blanchet’s choice to block critics on Twitter limits free speech: experts

OTTAWA — Dozens of people say Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has… Continue reading

Jimmy Melvin Jr. is escorted from Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax on Monday, July 20, 2015. One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia has been declared a dangerous offender. Melvin Jr. was handed an indeterminate sentence today in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘Real and present danger’: Nova Scotia crime figure deemed dangerous offender

HALIFAX — One of the most notorious crime figures in Nova Scotia… Continue reading

In this April 13, 2020, photo provided by TC Energy, construction contractors for TC Energy are seen installing a section of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline at the U.S.-Canada border north of Glasgow, Mont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-TC Energy via AP
An outright ‘No’: Biden’s Day 1 Keystone XL kibosh bodes ill for Canada-U.S. ties

WASHINGTON — North America’s perennial pipeline debate erupted anew Monday as president-elect… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces delaying or revisiting vaccine programs as Pfizer delays dose deliveries

OTTAWA — At least three provinces are now temporarily delaying or pausing… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney says killing Keystone sets risky precedent, puts Alberta on hook for US$1B

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says cancelling the Keystone XL expansion… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Enjoying this year’s postcard-perfect winter

COVID is still here complete with all the spinoffs each and everyone… Continue reading

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford / John Cairns)
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of… Continue reading

Most Read