Boy Scouts has decided to allow girls to enlist in its ranks and earn the rank of Eagle Scout beginning in 2019. The decision came after “years of requests from families and girls,” says John Fenaglio, who runs a Boy Scouts chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Boy Scouts Chief Executive, Michael Surbaugh, told NPR that the decision is historic but not unexpected.
The Boy Scouts have attempted to be more inclusive for several years now. In 2013, Boy Scouts began allowing gay scouts; in 2015, they allowed gay leaders; in 2017, they began allowing transgender youth; and now, they have opened their ranks to girls, beginning in 2019.
According to CNN, this is not the first time Boy Scouts have opened ranks to girls; previously, girls had been permitted into the Venturing program since the late 20th century.
Fenaglio says that responses have been mixed. However, his office has already received calls from families wishing to enroll their girls.
Leia Pameticky, who resides in Kansas, told KWCH, a CNN affiliate, that she was thrilled to be able to go on the same adventures that she had always heard her father talking about.
“I was like, yes! Finally!” Pameticky says. “There is no boy and girl things. There’s only people things.”
However, some people are not so happy. The Girl Scouts especially are unhappy with this decision. They see it as competition to their own members.
Reports from Washington Post state that the president of the Girl Scouts, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, wrote a letter to the Boy Scouts, blaming the declining numbers of Boy Scouts on the push to include girls.
“Furthermore,” she writes, “it is inherently dishonest to claim to be a single gender organization while simultaneously endeavoring upon a co-ed model.”
Girl Scouts stresses the importance of an environment led by girls for girls and have previously accused the Boy Scouts of trying to admit girls in order to raise their numbers. According to cnn.com, Girl Scouts spokesman, Mike Lopes, says this is in the interest of maintaining safe spaces for girls.
Despite many positive reactions, many girls still prefer the Girl Scouts.
According to WFAA, an ABC affiliate, 17-year-old Brynna Boyd from Grand Prairie says, “I think the value of it just being girls is that you have strong female role models you can look up to.” She says she would not change to Boy Scouts even after this decision.
While the Boy Scouts are attempting to keep up with the changing face of America’s youth, the Girl Scouts believe in maintaining safe spaces for girls and do not intend to change that any time soon.