Girls deserve a shot at Eagle Scout rank

We’re not bothered by the idea of girls joining the Boy Scouts. In recent years, the organization has agreed to accept openly gay youth members and adults, as well as transgender boys. Adding girls to the mix seems a natural extension of an ongoing debate about equity and equality within the organization.

For some, the Boy Scouts of America is abandoning a century of tradition. We see it a little differently. Under a new plan announced Wednesday, girls will be able to attain the coveted Eagle Scout rank. That alone should provide context as to why this is more than a surrender to the forces of political correctness.

The Boy Scouts of America should be proud that they’ve developed a program that positions young men for success. Eagle Scouts have gone on to become astronauts, Olympians, presidents and titans of industry. Giving girls the same opportunity to get a leg up on the world is reason enough to embrace a paradigm shift.

But, the move is also good for families. In our high-paced, overscheduled lives, this new arrangement cuts down on families having to divide time between two different organizations. Anyone who’s had young children in Scouting programs knows that siblings of either gender often attend pack meetings and campouts out of necessity. Allowing girls to be Boy Scouts consolidates activities and provides more opportunities for families to work on merit badges, commit to service projects and pursue outdoor activities together.

How this impacts the Girl Scouts of America remains to be seen. It now stands out for an all-girl and girl-led environment, which carries its own cachet for some parents.

But if there’s been a knock on Girl Scouts, it’s that it hasn’t provided the same range of experiences. Woman of a certain age lament that they were relegated to a junior home economics program while their brothers shot guns, tied knots and learned wilderness survival skills. If the Boys Scouts’ new status as an all-gender organization pushes the Girl Scouts to expand its horizons, the ripples will be beneficial.

Girl Scout officials have suggested the BSA’s move was driven partly by a need to boost revenues. Whether that’s true, one thing is certain: Girls Scouts will always have a fundraising advantage. Is there a product more beloved than Girls Scout cookies?


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