SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 11, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was quick to respond after the Boy Scouts of America’s board of directors voted unanimously to admit girls into the Cub Scout program.
“The Activity Days and Personal Progress programs of the Church have long been in place to meet the needs of girls and young women in these age groups, and no change will be made in Church programs,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins in a statement released immediately after news broke of the BSA vote.
“We recognize that the desire of the BSA is to expand their programs to serve more young people in the United States. The Church, too, continues to look at ways to serve the needs of our youth worldwide.”
The BSA announced its policy change on Wednesday morning, and said the organization also will forge a path for older girls to pursue and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
A BSA statement the decision to include girls comes after years of requests from parents, after researching the issue, and after gathering input form current BSU members and leaders.
Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief scout executive, said reinforcing positive character traits is important for everyone.
“The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” he said.
“We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”
In 2015, the relationship between the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts became strained after the BSA ended its longstanding ban on gay scout leaders. After consideration, the Church announced it would remain a sponsoring member of the BSA, although it would make its own decisions about who to appoint as scout leaders.
According to recent surveys by the Boy Scouts of America, parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts, and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts, the organization said.
The admission of girls to the Cub Scout program will being in 2018. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a mixed gender pack, or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.
More details about a program for older girls, which will the same curriculum as the boys program, will be announced next year.
The BSA has nearly 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories.