The Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and Connecticut residents reacted to the historic change on Wednesday.
Under the plan, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single gender or welcome both genders. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
"We've been really looking at how to strengthen our program and tie more families in and everywhere we were going we were heading from families it's just as hard to go with the boys one way and the girls another," said Steven Smith, Scout executive, and CEO of Connecticut Rivers Council.
The Boy Scouts board of directors, which approved the plan unanimously in a meeting at BSA headquarters in Texas, said the change was needed to provide more options for parents.
The BSA expands programs to welcome girls from Cub Scouts to highest rank of Eagle Scout https://t.co/WbFQxCXZBN— Boy Scouts - BSA (@boyscouts) October 11, 2017
Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO Mary Barneby said their organization is more than 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," Barneby said in a statement on Wednesday. "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.”
“I certainly would've put my kids in Boy Scouts if I knew that here was boys and girls. As a parent, you can be involved with both of them rather than dropping them off in two different programs. I think there's still a place for the Girl Scouts that's different and it really is about girl empowerment," said Helen Lynch, who is a mother of five and said it took a village to get her children to their respective after-school programs.
Others feel it's kind of strange.
"Feels weird, especially like there's a Girl Scout already. My first thought was are boys going to be accepted in to Girl Scouts," said Jakob Knigga, Brother Boy Scout.
On Wednesday night, a room full of supporters at the Boy Scouts Salute to Youth Scholarship dinner. The Scout Executive said they're excited to support more girls in the future.
"We teach citizenship we teach leadership and mental and physical fitness is what our programs are about and our core values are the same whether you're a boy or a girl," Smith said.
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Connecticut Rivers Council welcomes girls to their programs.
"The BSA's board of directors has unanimously approved welcoming girls into our Cub Scouts program and delivering a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls. The BSA evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders — as well as parents and girls who have 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," Connecticut Rivers Council posted on its Facebook page.
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