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The Boy Scouts are now going to include girls. The Boy Scouts of America say they will accept girls beginning next year. Scout leaders say they want to meet the needs of families and give girls a shot at being Eagle Scouts. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports on how the plan works and why the Scouts acted.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: The plan is to allow the organization's smallest units, the Cub Scout Dens, to be either all-boys or all-girls. Cub Scout packs, the larger unit, can also be single-gender or they can choose to go coed. Beginning in 2019, a program for older girls will enable them to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. In a statement, the Boy Scouts chief Scout executive, Michael Surbaugh, said, we strive to bring what our organization does best - help shape the next generation of leaders. A decision which the Boy Scouts' statement calls historic was not unexpected. It comes in response to, quote, "years of receiving requests from families and girls."
JOHN FENOGLIO: We surveyed people around here through some focus groups and shared that information with the national office. And it was kind of across the board a lot of thoughts, a lot of comments.
GONZALES: John Fenoglio directs the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council of the Boy Scouts in the eastern suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. He says local reaction to the idea of integrating the Boy Scouts went both ways - some for, some against. Fenoglio says his office already has received calls from parents hoping to enlist their daughters in the Boy Scouts.
FENOGLIO: Hopefully, the program will provide us that opportunity to serve kids with a great scouting program.
GONZALES: The announcement is the latest in a series of changes that at the Scouts. In January, the Boy Scouts announced that it would accept transgender boys. In 2013, it began accepting gay youth. And two years later, it ended a ban on gay leaders. Spokespeople for the Girl Scouts of the USA did not return requests for comment. In August, the president of the Girl Scouts, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, wrote a letter accusing the Boy Scouts of a covert campaign to recruit girls in order to bolster its declining membership.
Richard Gonzales, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.