A recent vote to allow girls into the Boy Scouts is sparking controversy across the country. Locally, people are speaking out about the change.
The Boy Scouts say they've always been a family organization. The families bring kids of both genders to the events and activities they have for scouts. The difference now, girls will be able to earn Eagle Scout status and badges in the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America National Board of Directors unanimously welcomed girls into the program, sparking mixed reactions. Kayla Baker says, "If they have the option to be able to go into Boy Scouts; they should be able to. But also, I like the fact they keep them separate because boys learn what they want to learn and girls learn what they want to learn. If they would want to learn the skills that each other does, they should incorporate it into the Boys and the Girls Scout [programs]."
Kathleen Downey, on the other hand, says, "It seems a little upside down to me. Having a boys group that lets girls in... so I'm wondering when boys will be allowed in Girl Scouts."
Boy Scout officials say this won't change the programs much. Scout Executive Duane Havard says, "We're looking at serving as many kids as we possibly can."
In fact, the Boy Scouts already offer two co-ed programs: The Venturing Program and The Explorer Program, and the scouts say they knew the time would come. Assistant Scout Master Brent Sesler says, "Worldwide has been co-ed for quite awhile. It goes back probably 40-50 years they started being co-ed in other areas of the world."
Nationally, the Girl Scouts organization has been very critical of the situation, but locally, they're saying, "Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania remains committed to the all-girl, girl-led environment that Girl Scouts provides. We hear from girls and their families every day about the value and impact of the experiences we offer them, including in STEM, outdoor, entrepreneurship, and life-skills programming. At Girl Scouts, we are experts on girls and their healthy development, and we work every day to help girls develop the courage, confidence, and character necessary to make the world a better place."
The Boy Scouts will begin recruiting girls in the Cub Scout age next fall, so about a year away. The girls and boys dens at that age will still remain separate.
Duane says by 2019 is when we'll start seeing girls in Boy Scouts, but he says it's still early in the process and details still need to be worked out.
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