What was once a gender-specific organization for boys to learn life skills and make friends is getting a gender-neutral facelift.
Mike Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive said in an interview that the leadership of the Scout organization engaged in a lengthy and “incredibly fun” deliberation about what they would rename the organization, now that they plan to accept girls into the program.
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
According to Surbaugh, the parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts — its program for 7- to 10-year-olds — will keep its title as well. But the Boy Scouts — the program for 11- to 17-year-olds — will now be Scouts BSA.
Affiliates of the program have already begun the controversial move of accepting girls into their ranks, including the Cub Scouts. The newly named Scouts BSA will follow suit sometime in 2019.
As far as what the previously titled Boy Scouts will call themselves, Chief Scout Surbaugh predicts that both the boy and girl scouts will probably just refer to themselves as “scouts” rather than include the now deemed unnecessary, gender-specific modifier.
The organization plans to have separate units for boys and girls in the program, in order to address concerns that parents have about co-ed events. Thus far, over 3,000 girls have joined Cub Scout packs in the first wave of the new policy.
Under the new inclusive policy, Boy Scouts of America might be able to bolster their membership in the face of declining numbers. According to the New York Post, the Boy Scouts report their current participation at about 2.3 million. That is down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million at its peak.
This new policy didn’t sit well with the Girl Scouts of America, with their leaders speaking out against the Scouts campaign to recruit girls. The Girl Scouts have attempted to up their own appeal by adding new badges for their participants to earn, including those that pertain to outdoor activities, science, engineering, technology, and math.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls’ opportunities to build new skills … and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults.”
H/T: New York Post