Several of my Facebook friends have been stirred up over the news that the Boy Scouts of America would now be accepting girls into the Cub Scouts and allow girls to earn the Eagle award. Relax folks.
You need to know the facts.
First, this isn’t new. Remember that The Boy Scouts of America, is the United States branch of an organization that exists in over 190 countries. The BSA itself consists of several organizations: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, Explorers, Sea Scouts and also the STEM Scout pilot program. All of these, except Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have admitted girls as young as eleven years old, since around 1971.
Second, as an international organization, the Boy Scouts have allowed girls in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in nearly every country on the planet except for the United States and a few other countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim. That’s why international events like the Scout Jamboree and the World Jamboree have had female participants for decades and the camps they use are already fully equipped, and staffed, to support them.
That bring us up to date as we consider the recent announcement and change to BSA policy. Let’s take a look at what the announcement actually says:
- Hispanic and Asian communities prefer to participate in activities as a family. Recent surveys of parents not involved with scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
That’s a significant motivation to be racially inclusive and, frankly to be good citizens, as well as a good idea for an organization that has been shrinking as busy families have less time to join any kind of club. The same struggle is seen in music, sports, and theater programs at schools as well as all sorts of community groups and clubs.
- Starting in 2018, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.
The control of implementing this is completely local. If your pack doesn’t want females, or if you simply don’t have the female volunteers to properly supervise the addition of girls, then don’t. But even if you do, the girls and the boys will belong to separate dens and will only be together at Pack meeting when all of the leaders, male and female, are present. And remember, Cub Scouts don’t have camp-outs unless their parents are with them, and scouts never share a tent with an adult, unless that adult is a parent.
- BSA will also deliver a program for older girls, which is projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.
Read that again. They did not say that girls will join the Boy Scouts. What they said was that they are developing a program that will make the Eagle rank, and presumably, merit badges, etc., available to girls. That does not say that girls will be integrated with the boys, but instead emphases that they want to “maintain the integrity of the single gender model.” How they intend to accomplish that has yet to be explained, but there’s nothing here that seems worth getting upset about.
I’m a pretty conservative parent of boys and a girl. I was involved in scouting as a boy and I have been active in scouting since my boys were in grade school and joined Cub Scouts. I attended this year’s Boy Scout Jamboree, and I saw plenty of female Venturers, as well as female international scouts. As a chaplain, I was pretty plugged-in to the news of what was happening across the camp. And as far as I know, there were zero problems that arose because both genders were present.
Honestly, I think that this is a good step. It makes a premier program of leadership development available to girls who will hold important positions of responsibility in our industry, our culture and our society. And, as described, it will take nothing away from the boys. Why would we rob half of our children, and ourselves, of this opportunity?
I don’t see a downside here.