(WTNH) — The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday they will allow girls to join the organization. Soon they will be able to join as Cub Scouts and eventually they’ll be allowed to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor. The organization says for years it has gotten requests from families and from girls looking to join the program.
Local Boy Scout leaders hope this will bring families together.
“Parents just have limited time, and if we can provide a program for the kids where they can take their entire family, it’s better for the family,” said Steven Smith, Scout Executive/CEO of the Connecticut Rivers Council, which brings scouting programs to local children.
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The decision is something that people at a fundraiser to support the Boy Scouts in Hartford Wednesday night were talking about. Though some thought boys’ and girls’ scouting should be separate, many thought bringing them together was a good idea. Boy Scouts of America already did offer some programs that girls could join.
“I carry a lot of the things that I learned growing up,” said Jim Bain of New Milford. “I’m an Eagle Scout, so I was in scouting as a child from Cub Scouts right on through.”
Bain went on to be a Scout Master, and he still works with the Boy Scouts. That’ll soon include girls starting with Cub Scouts, and later the Boy Scout program will be open to girls of all ages. Though girls can still join Girl Scouts, some people think joining Boy Scouts would be good for them.
“It will benefit girls because it gives them the opportunity to do the same different things that the young men are doing currently, and there’s a great learning opportunity,” said Bain.
Boy Scout leaders say the program itself won’t really change. Existing Cub Scout packs can choose to remain all boys or create new all girl packs. Some could also be mixed gender. Later the Boy Scouts will create the same type of program for older girls.
“Boys and girls are the same. We’re in the character development business and citizenship and teaching leadership,” said Smith. “It’s something that really isn’t gender specific.”
Girls will be able to start enrolling in Boy Scouts in 2018.
Girl Scouts of Connecticut sent News 8 the following statement:
“Girl Scouts is an organization over 100 years old with time-tested methods and research-backed programs that speak to the strengths of girl-leadership development. We are the organization creating—through our skill-building Girl Scout Leadership Experience—the female leadership pipeline.
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. Our programs are research and evidence-based and, from this research, we know that Girl Scouts excel in important aspects of life. Girl Scouts remains committed to and believes strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment, creating a necessary safe space for girls to learn and thrive.”