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In historic shift, Boy Scouts of America to expand girls' participation

In historic shift, Boy Scouts of America to expand girls' participation
From CBC - October 12, 2017

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.

The Girl Scouts of the USA, which had sought unsuccessfully to dissuade the Boys Scouts from making this move, said they remained committed to their single-gender mission.

No plans to change name

"Girl Scouts is, and will remain, the scouting program that truly benefits U.S. girls by providing a safe space for them to learn and lead," the Girl Scouts said in a statement.

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," spokespersonEffie Delimarkos said in an email.

Under the new plan, Cub Scout densthe smallest unitwill 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.

Strong support in surveys

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

"The values of scoutingtrustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for exampleare 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 possiblyexpanding 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.

'A terrible idea'

"We will make sure those environments are protected," he said. "What we are presenting is a fairly unique hybrid model."

'The Boy Scouts' house is on fire'

Numbers down

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