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A historic change: Boy Scouts to allow girls in certain programs

A historic change: Boy Scouts to allow girls in certain programs (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT/WKWF) -- After a century of turning boys into men, the Boy Scouts are allowing girls to join their ranks. The decision has many applauding, but some remain skeptical.

Parents often come by the scouting office with their sons, while they take their daughter to Girl Scouts, or other activities. The Boy Scouts said they took this into consideration when debating the issue, and want to allow parents to have one avenue for their children.

The symbols, outfits and badges have become the face of Boys Scouts which began in 1910; a decade before women could vote.

"It's really a genderless thing to be able to serve boys and girls with a character education program," Jeff Schiavone said, the executive director of the Miami Valley Boy Scout Council.

Schiavone is not only the executive director, but the proud father of a daughter.

"What a scary thought, me as a Cub Scout den leader," Schiavone joked. "It's an awesome opportunity if she can grow in the program."

Cub Scouts is for the younger kids, and will begin allowing girls this fall. Smaller "dens" of children will remain as all-boys or all-girls, but packs, encompassing multiple local dens, may be co-ed.

"You know there's a lot of thumbs up out there, and some very favorable comments," Schiavone said. "This certainly isn't to compete with Girl Scouts. It's really to give an opportunity to those girls who may not be available or may want to join."

In a statement, Girl Scouts said they will remain exclusive. One local troop leader is curious how the mix will play out.

"Where the boys and the men become more of the leader, and the girls and the females are the followers," Melissa Moody said about the stereotypical gender roles kids can fall into.

The organization said they are experts in girls, and propel them toward the Gold Award, which is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout: the top rank of the organization.

"One girl went to I believe it was Puerto Rico, and established a medical awareness program," Moody said of one Gold Award Girl Scout.

Under the new Boy Scout system, girls can become Eagle Scouts.

"Regardless of which avenue they go, they will be able to make positive contributions down the road," Moody said.

A Boy Scout program for older girls is expected to be announced next year, with a possible start date in 2019.

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