TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Aspiring to become an Eagle Scout will no longer be exclusive to young men.
Beginning in 2018 Cub Scouts, the kindergarten through fifth grade age group within the Boy Scouts of America will be open to girls. A decision, Daniel Anderson, Chief Operations Officer for the East Texas Boy Scouts Council, says was made to better serve families.
"For the last number of months our national office has been conducting research with volunteers, with community organizations, with existing scout families to really determine how we can better serve families," says Anderson. "Now we have an opportunity to serve full families by allowing girls to be a part of our elementary age program."
Anderson says that the BOA has had other co-ed programs since 1971.
"We've had our exploring program which is a co-ed vocational program," says Anderson. "Since 1998 we've had venturing which is a high adventure co-ed outdoor based program that we offer."
Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens will be either all-boys or all-girls. Larger Cub Scout packs will be able to decide whether or not they want to go co-ed. Anderson says in East Texas at least one Cub Scout pack in each district has expressed interest in including girls.
"Regardless of what career field any youth goes on to, its inevitable that at some point they're either going to work for or work with a women," says Anderson. "Wouldn't we want those women to have had the opportunity as girls to become Eagle Scouts?"
Former Girl Scout Stacy Rains disagrees, saying the change is an attempt to increase revenue.
"We have plenty of time to co-ed," says Rains. "I think the Boy Scouts are hurting and I think that they want to take a piece of the pie from the Girl Scouts and I just think it's wrong, I think Boy Scouts are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are Girls Scouts ."
Anderson says finances had nothing to do with the organization's change.
"We'll still spend as much on every scout as we end up taking in," says Anderson "This isn't really a financially driven decision this is mission-based decision."
Anderson says despite the change to Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops will remain a single gender program.
In 2019, a program will begin for older girls that will allow them to continue on with the Boy Scouts of America, after 5th grade, and earn an Eagle Scout rank.