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Girls in the Boy Scouts: NH reacts

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 11. 2017 9:03PM
A boy scout statue titled "Trail to Manhood" stands outside the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas, on May 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Michael Prengler/File Photo)

Changing a 100-year tradition is bound to be unsettling, so one can forgive former Boy Scouts of America leader Jack Kelley of Nashua for being rocked by the news that the BSA is welcoming girls in its ranks.

“I know they were talking about this for a while, but I’m still stunned by it,” said Kelley, the father of two Eagle Scouts.

The BSA announced on Wednesday that it will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls using the organization’s same curriculum.

In the historic move, Cub Scout dens, the smallest unit, will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, which are larger and include a number of dens, will have the option to welcome both genders.

Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron of Keene was a Girl Scout and said she wonders about that organization’s future.

“I am all for equal rights and prefer organizations that are co-ed,” Bergeron said. “That said, I was a Girl Scout until I graduated from high school and wonder how that wonderful organization will be affected.”

She added: “Maybe there will be a merger of the two. If I had the opportunity to become an Eagle Scout when I was young, I would probably have jumped at the chance.”

A spokesman for the Daniel Webster Council in New Hampshire said this decision was a natural progression for the group.

“The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children,” said Christopher Hopkins, a spokesperson for the Daniel Webster Council.

The Girl Scouts of the USA said the move strains the century-old bond between the two organizations.

Girl Scout officials have suggested the BSA’s move was driven partly by financial problems and a need to boost revenue.

In August, the president of the Girl Scouts accused the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts’ operations.

“I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts ... and not consider expanding to recruit girls,” wrote GSUSA President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan in a letter to the BSA’s president, AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson.

Rob Sargent of Newmarket is an Eagle Scout and the scoutmaster of a troop in his hometown.

“This is a move that is far overdue,” Sargent said “Most other Scouting organizations around the world are gender integrated. I saw this first-hand at the World Jamboree held in Australia in 1987-88. Kudos to our national leadership, bringing Scouting in the United States in line with World Scouting Movement.”

On social media, some New Hampshire residents said the move was gender-neutrality run amok.

“This is pathetic; every institution has been compromised by political correctness and feminist garbage. Boy Scouts no longer exists,” wrote David Berman of Keene.

Former Goffstown Republican Rep. Pamela Manning chipped in with, “Just wondering, do the Boy Scouts have a sewing badge? Do the Girl Scouts have a survival badge? It’s been years since my children participated, so it might have changed.”

Recently, the Boy Scouts announced that it will allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys-only programs.

Mark Goldblatt of Concord said this might have played a role in the decision announced Wednesday.

“It’s ingenious,” Goldblatt posted on Facebook. “Now they can get out of making a public statement one way or the other about transgender children. They just went and took themselves out of that discussion.”

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