Hold on to your badges. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has announced that the organization will start allowing girls to join their ranks, and the Internet has a lot to say about it.
I was in Girl Scouts. I would have loved to do what the Boy Scouts did. My cousin got to sleep in a snow cave. I got to sell cookies.— Marina (@blackveggie) October 11, 2017
It's no coincidence that the organization chose Oct. 11, the International Day of the Girl, to make the announcement. In an official statement, BSA leaders said they made their decision after fielding requests for years from families who wanted their daughters to be able to join the scouting organization. "The organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who've never been involved in scouting — to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children."
Reactions were mixed:
Some praised the BSA for inclusivity ...
I was in girl scouts, my brother was in boy scouts. I went to build a bear, he learned to build fires, administer first aid, budget, etc.— Mary Stiger (@merbear_11) October 11, 2017
Eagle Scout here. Girl members and women leaders have been vital parts of Boy Scouts for years! Scouting is about ethics, not gender.— Loren Crowe (@LorenCrowe) October 11, 2017
... while others felt the organization had gone too far and lost sight of its true mission.
Girls have no business joining Boy Scouts and boys have no business entertaining the silly notion. We have Girl Scouts. Leave it alone.— 🇺🇸Lady Liberty🇺🇸 (@17LadyLiberty76) October 11, 2017
Even Donald Trump Jr. felt the need to weigh in on the story:
Strange, I thought that's what the Girl Scouts was for??? https://t.co/8Dhub01Ihi— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 11, 2017
What the decision really means
The move will allow girls to join the Cub Scouts program and eventually work toward the coveted Eagle Scout award, a distinction that is more widely known than the Girl Scouts' highest award, the Gold Award.
Some of the loudest opposition to the decision came from those who believe the organization plans to integrate all troops and therefore deny boys the space to just be boys. But in reality, the BSA plans to keep the genders separated even within individual "dens" or "packs."
"Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack," said the BSA statement.
One benefit of the BSA decision that not many people are talking about is that it will allow families with several children of different genders to be part of the same organization. For families who are already running from soccer practice to violin lessons to math club, it makes sense to streamline scout meetings for the whole family.
Many see the announcement as a means to boost the BSA's dwindling membership. Not surprisingly, officials from the Girl Scouts are not thrilled with the BSA decision. Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Girl Scouts of USA's national president, wrote a pointed letter to her counterpart at the Boy Scouts, Randall Stephenson, when she learned about the possibility two months ago.
"We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls," Hannan wrote.
It's no secret that the Girl Scouts organization has also seen a decline in membership as it struggles to remain relevant to the next generation of girls.
Girls will be allowed to join Cub Scout troops as early as 2018 with programming available for girls to start working toward their Eagle Scout awards in 2019.