The “Boy Scouts” is no longer just for boys. The American youth organization, which has been around for more than 100 years, is opening up membership to boys and girls.
It’s a move that many are applauding.
CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.
It’s a cold evening in Algonquin, on the outskirts of Chicago. Inside a school building, dozens of boys have gathered for a Boy Scouts meeting.
They pick up various awards and badges, commemorating everything from sporting achievements to good deeds in the neighborhood. But that dynamic will soon change following the decision to allow girls full membership to the Boy Scouts of America.
“We have done many surveys across the country from existing families and potential families and that told us similar things that they are busier than ever,” according to Marketing and Communications Director Kate Jacobs. “They have more activities than ever before and that scouting is important to them but it would make their lives a whole lot easier if they could include their daughters as well.”
The decision will allow girls the chance to earn the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
Brian Hnatt is a single parent and a volunteer. He’s delighted that his daughter will be allowed the chance to participate in the same activities as his son and receive the same recognition.
“My son is loving it and now that my daughter – she would be in the second year next year – she is all for it. It’s something my son has been doing and now I am excited my daughter can do the same.”
The father’s view appears to have the backing of his son, Thomas.
“My little sister, she was thinking of joining Girl Scouts, which then my dad would have had some more trouble with getting us two separated.”
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Although the decision to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts was partly due to convenience for families, it’s hoped the move will also boost the numbers of participants.
But not everyone is convinced.
The Girl Scouts of the USA, an organization that also has a history of more than 100 years, are among those upset with the decision. They said it undermines their own program that is specifically designed for girls, and is a complete reversal from the single sex policy.
“The girl scouts offer a great program, we champion great programs that benefit kids with leadership skills and character developments,” Jacobs said. “We just want to give families the opportunity to fit within their schedule.”
Some see the move simply as a way to boost sagging membership numbers. But others believe it is long overdue.