The Scouting Association Will Allow Girls to Join the Boy Scouts

In a historic move, the Boy Scouts of America has announced that, after careful consideration, it is opening up the Cub Scouts program to young girls. The organization will also facilitate young women advancing to the esteemed Eagle Scouts.

BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh explained:

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. We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.

The decision means that, starting with the 2018 program, families can sign up both their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Cub Scout dens will be either all-boy or all-girl, but the actual program delivered to both groups will be the same.

But what does this mean for existing packs of Cub Scouts? Well, as we saw with the integration of openly gay scout leaders, individual packs will have autonomy: They can choose whether to stay all-boy, establish two separate packs, or integrate the two packs together while making provisions for boy and girl dens.

The announcement also notes that girls will be able to attain the coveted Eagle Scout rank, a nationally recognized achievement. According to the Scouting Association, those awarded the title of Eagle Scout have acquired all the relevant skills taught in scouting, while demonstrating excellent leadership and moral judgement.

While Girl Scouts grant the roughly equivalent Gold Award, it has arguably not been afforded the same level of recognition among the general public — though that does seem to be changing as the Girl Scouts have gained prominence.

Nevertheless, the fact the BSA is paving a path to high achievement for girls is significant. The Eagle Scout program for young women is currently being finalized and will reportedly be announced in 2019.

So what has prompted this change?

Clearly, this was a well-planned move. For one thing, the news landed on International Day of the Girl Child, sending a strong message of empowerment that was echoed right to the top of the World Scouting Association.

As with the hard-won battle on making the Scouts gay-inclusive, the BSA has experienced significant pressure to modernize — or risk getting left behind. As an LGBT rights campaigner, I would also suggest that this decision facilitates the process of allowing openly trans members into BSA ranks in a more encompassing way.  But will the move threaten the Girl Scouts? That seems unlikely. Girl Scouts offers a well-established program that provides young women with tailored support. The organization has also shown a willingness for inclusivity that has taken the Boy Scouts much longer to establish, so it could remain the preferred pick for parents of gender-fluid children. Considering that the details of the Scouting Association’s program for young women remain incomplete, it’s difficult to compare the two groups at the moment.  There has already been some retaliation from conservatives who contend this is yet another effort to erode the BSA’s tradition of shaping young men. Indeed, within hours of the announcement, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: 

And some of the replies predictably decried the announcement as part of a “liberal agenda”.

But the Scouting Association makes a solid point in its reasoning. The organization hopes to cater to the modern American family that may be time-constrained and have limited resources. The group also aims to cultivate more diverse packs by creating a gender-inclusive environment.

The press release states:

Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before [1], making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family.

Will the BSA achieve this goal? We can’t say for sure, but over the past few years its attempts to reflect modern American life have been marked — for that, the group should be congratulated.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.


Marie W
Marie W9 months ago

Thank you

Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a year ago

Thank you.

Kimberly W
Kimberly Wallaceabout a year ago

A future possibility is just to call it "Scouts" , have both sexes and let them choose activities and badges from both.

One Heart i
One Heart incabout a year ago


Christina S
Past Member about a year ago

How asinine. Girls do not need to join boy scouts. What is so wrong with having an all girls program and an all boys program? I enjoyed being a girl scout and was empowered greatly without having boys around. It was actually better to be surrounded by girls and women working towards the same goals, as opposed to dealing with boy/girl issues. If anything, this does the girls a disservice. Sad times!

Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago

Hura! 21st century...

Julie D
Julie Dabout a year ago

I think this is a bit silly. We have Girl Scout programs for girls that are wonderful. I was a Girl Scout when I was little. I don't see the need to put girls in the Boy Scout programs. Girls can become "empowered" without being in the Boy Scouts, and if there is a variance in activities maybe they should just incorporate some of the things the Boy Scouts do into the Girl Scout program and visa versa? Maybe I'm just "old fashioned". Girls don't need to be competing with boys in order to become "empowered". I just don't understand it I guess.
Also Thank you Amanda for clearing up the business about religious discrimination with the Boy Scouts. I was not aware of that and it is good to know.

Ken O
Ken Oabout a year ago

Does this mean they are going to disband the Girl Scouts? I'm not sure that Girls want to be called "Boy" scouts. We have Girl Scouts, we have Boy Scouts, what's the problem? Maybe we should have Gay Scouts too, but then we'd have to have Gay Scouts and Lesbian Scouts?

Ann B
Ann Babout a year ago

This is absurd!!!!!! girl scouts have GIRL SCOUTS--now are the boys going to sell girl scout cookies that are OVER PRICED????

Joan E
Joan Eabout a year ago

I read that this was because the Boy Scouts were losing members. But I have no s strong feelings pro or con about this. It may be great for some kids, and others will do better the way it has always been.