The Boy Scouts are allowing girls to join, and that is a step in the right direction toward gender equality.
In February 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was founded with the mission to “help youth put us on a path toward a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.” For over a century, membership in the Scouts has been limited to males, but on Oct. 11, the organization announced that females will be allowed to join. By next year, girls will be allowed to join the Cub Scouts program, and by 2019, a new track will be created so that they can become Eagle Scouts as well.
This announcement, though rather unexpected, is most certainly a step in the right direction for the organization, whose membership has been on the decline in recent years. According to the group, the Boy Scouts has 2.3 million members from ages 7 to 21 and almost 1 million volunteers.
However, in the 1970s, the membership was closer to 5 million. Encouraging girls to join is not all about the numbers, though; it is about moving toward a society that cultivates gender equality.
“I am absolutely in support of this movement,” UI sophomore Owen Rehling said. “I had the chance of attending the 2015 World Scout Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan, and met scouts from all over the world. Several scouting organizations include girls in their programs, including British, Italian, and Hong Kong troops. I had the pleasure of meeting several female scouts who loved being involved in the program. I think that the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to include females is a step in the right direction. It is providing girls with the opportunity to engage with their communities and outdoor activities in a new way and is a strong gesture toward gender equality in the United States.”
With more than 100 merit badges to earn, getting girls involved in the programs will teach them many valuable skills that they might not otherwise have been able to learn at a young age. Randall Stephenson, the Boy Scout board chairman, believes that being a scout is the best way to build leadership and that girls should not be excluded from the chance to learn the same way.
“I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization,” Stephenson said. “It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”
While Girl Scouts offers a certain set of valuable skills to learn, many young girls would rather be able to participate in the activities that Boy Scouts has to offer. By opening up the organization to both males and females, girls will be given the choice to learn the set of skills they desire to learn.
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