The Boy Scouts announces name change as girls join in — and it's already sparking controversy

With the introduction of girls into its once male-only ranks, the Boy Scouts of America is ushering in a new era — and a new name.

As the Associated Press reports, the organization announced Wednesday that beginning in February 2019, its Boy Scouts program will be known as Scouts BSA to reflect its new membership. The flagship Boy Scouts of America organization and Cub Scouts program will keep their current names.

The Boy Scouts, which currently allows girls in its Venturing program, will change its name to reflect its more inclusive membership policy. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/the Washington Post via Getty Images)

The name change was prompted by the decision to allow girls to join the program for 11- to 17-year-olds for the first time in its 108-year history. That will take effect next year, and all members will be referred to as “scouts,” regardless of gender.

“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.” The announcement of the inclusive name change coincides with the launch of the “Scout Me In” recruitment campaign, according to a BSA press release. The new ads show both boys and girls taking part in Cub Scout activities like canoeing and fishing.

“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, BSA’s national marketing group director, in a statement to the media. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’ — because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you. We want you to join!’”

BSA says that more than 3,000 girls nationwide have already enrolled in its early adopter program and are currently active in the Cub Scouts. 

While many are hailing the new name as a mark of progress, several conservative critics have taken to social media to bemoan what they consider to be bowing to political correctness. Meanwhile, Girl Scouts of the USA officials tell the Associated Press that the BSA’s open-door policy is bound to affect its own membership numbers, and has left the relationship between the two groups “chilly.”

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