Last year, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it will drop the “boy” from its program name in an effort to make the program gender neutral. After more than a century, girls will be allowed to join the organizations flagship program.
From February 2019, Boy Scouts of America will be known as Scouts BSA and it will also start admitting female members. “Scouts BSA perfectly represents the new, inclusive program for older Scouts that the Boy Scouts of America is proud to offer,” said Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman.
“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,” she added.
In a first, the Cub Scouts program for younger children welcomed girls under the new policy, enabling thousands to join the program. Scouts BSA also announced in October that from 2019, girls would be allowed to participate in the higher Eagle Scout ranking – those ranks weren’t available for girls previously.
The new scout program is rebranded with a new ad campaign “Scout Me In,” featuring female Cub Scouts, designed to attract both boys and girls.
Scouts BSA has been trying to encourage kids and their families into scouting, especially after its membership slashed down by about a third since 2000. However, these changes also reflect the massive shifts in social and cultural norms that expect programs to be equally available for both boys and girls.
However, Girl Scouts of the USA, which is a separate organization solely for girls, opposed the idea of the BSA group recruiting girls in its ranks. They believe the name change wasn’t enough and that Scouts BSA didn’t focus on any new programs focusing on girls.
“We proudly own the ‘Girl’ in Girl Scouts,” a spokesperson said. “Since our inception, Girl Scouts of the USA have been about putting girls front and center, ensuring that everything we do is not only with their best interests in mind but equips them to be the fearless leaders and change makers who our 50 million alumnae prove to be.”
But people supporting the move by Scouts BSA believe the 11-17 year olds who would join the program would refer to themselves as scouts without any gender discrimination. In 2015, Boy Scouts allowed gay scouts leaders to join its program. And in 2017, transgender children were also welcomed to join the Boy Scouts.
Thumbnail / Banner : Reuters, Jonathan Alcorn