The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday announced it would allow girls into some of its programs starting in 2018.
The move wasn’t a surprise: In August, the president of the Girl Scouts of the USA released a letter accusing the Boy Scouts of plotting to steal girl members. The Boy Scouts admitted they were considering programs for girls but said no decision had been made.
On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts board of directors voted unanimously to include girls.
Supporters of the move say Scouting should be a coed endeavor, open to any child who is interested. Some parents like the fact that the Boy Scouts conveniently will offer programs for all their children.
But others—the Girl Scouts for one—argue that ignoring innate differences between boys and girls and not providing places for gender-specific activity does both sexes a disservice.
“The single-gender environment we offer at Girl Scouts creates an inclusive, safe space where girls are free to explore their potential and take the lead without the distractions or pressures that can be found in a coed environment,” said Becky Burton, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Texas-Oklahoma Plains Council.
The Girl Scouts say they are sticking to their guns. “We’re the best leadership organization in the world for girls, and no one can do what we do,” read a Thursday tweet from the Girl Scouts.
Despite the fact that Cub Scout “dens” will remain either all-boys or all-girls, the program will be the same for both.
That’s a mistake, according to Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts formed in 2014.
“As gender blurring only increases, it is more important than ever that someone provide a safe environment where boys can be boys, and where their natural talents and tendencies can be affirmed, encouraged and developed by men who can offer a positive role model,” he said, adding that Trail Life has no intention of following in the footsteps of the Boy Scouts.
The shift follows numerous changes to membership requirements in Scouting in recent years. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts now allow openly homosexual scouts and leaders. In 2015, the Girl Scouts opened their ranks to transgender children who identify as girls on a case-by-case basis. The Boy Scouts followed suit this past January, deciding to accept all self-identifying male applicants regardless of the gender on a child’s birth certificate.