To recognize the participation of girls in the Boy Scout Leadership Program, the organization plans to change its name to Scouts BSA to acknowledge its wider participation.
In addition to the name change, the children participating in the program will be referred to as scouts instead of boy scouts. Mike Surbaugh, the chief scout executive for the leadership program, explained that the change is symbolic of the program’s efforts to be more inclusive.
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” Surbaugh said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The co-ed Boy Scouts program has caused some controversy among those who are accustomed to more traditional Boy Scout practices and see the Boy Scout program as a place specifically for boys to learn important skills. Some have criticized the change and the program’s inclusion of women.
One Fox News anchor described the change as “extremely sad,” saying, “It seems we have fewer and fewer places nowadays where boys can just be boys, where they are trained and taught specifically to be young men.”
Others may see the opportunity as allowing women to make connections and pursue activities that had not been previously available to them.
One woman, Molly Reynolds of the Washington Post, had a different perspective. In her article “Boys Don’t Need the Boy Scouts’ Approval,” she explained that the program may not be as inclusive as it might seem. There is a strong emphasis on gender division within the program and activities will be divided by gender as more girls participate.
“Even with careful research and preparation, Boy Scouts’ efforts to serve girls in single-gender groups will still be built on a long legacy of focusing on boys’ needs. Everything meant to serve girls specifically will be an adjustment, not the default, central focus,” she wrote.
However, other factors indicate that the name change to symbolize recognition of wider participation does not translate across the entire program.
According to the AP, the program name Boy Scouts of America will not change despite the participation of girls. Although the program has changed several policies over the last decade, inclusivity and equal access to program benefits are important to those who participate.
Although the Boy Scout programs have made progress, such as allowing women to participate and opening the program to people of any sexual orientation, there are still improvements to be made as far as giving girls and people of all genders the same opportunities offered to boys through a long-lasting legacy.
Although all people have specific needs and interests that some may feel are best addressed in groups, gender divisions are not necessary for access to learning opportunities and education.
People who identify with any gender should be allowed the same access to American legacies and the educational values that accompany them.