PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The head of the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England says girls already have a place for scouting.
CEO Pam Hyland said she was disappointed when the Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday they would now begin to accept girls.
“We still feel there’s a need in this world for girls to have a girl-only space where they can develop their leadership,” Hyland said.
Hyland said the Girl Scouts programs are designed to empower girls to become successful women, and girls need a safe and comfortable space away from boys.
The Boy Scouts, however, say families have long waited to bring their kids to the same location for scouting.
Tim McCandless, the CEO of the Narragansett Council of Boys Scouts of America, said the value of scouting was important for both young men and young women.
“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to do a better job in supporting families,” McCandless told Eyewitness News. He said girls are already welcome in multiple teen programs within the Boy Scouts, and will now be welcome in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts.
Girls are boys will still be kept separate, with boy and girl “dens” in the Cub Scouts. Girls will be able to enter the Cub Scouts in Fall 2018. In 2019, older girls will be able to join the Boy Scouts and will be eligible for the coveted Eagle Scout award.
It’s unclear if the girls will be called “Boy Scouts.” Boys and girls will be separate in that program as well, and McCandless said transgender children will be able to join whichever group represents their gender identity.
Hyland said the Girl Scouts have no plans to go co-ed.
“The reason is that our mission is about building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” Hyland said.
Hyland said the Gold Award in the Girl Scouts is equally prestigious to the Eagle Award, but less well-known.
“Women have a tendency to kind of downplay their accomplishments in life,” Hyland said. “And that’s one gender issue that has actually hurt us. So we need to get the stories about our Gold Awards out there.”
Hyland said she does support families who choose to sign their girls up for the Boy Scouts, but she hopes people see the value in what the Girl Scouts have built for more than 100 years.