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Middle Tennessee Boy Scouts discuss decision to allow girls in the organization

(MGN/Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office / CC BY 2.0)

The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday it will allow girls to join.

Jessica Walker is a self-proclaimed feminist and a proud Cub Scout mom in Nashville, which is why she has mixed feelings on the organization's decision to include girls in the program.

“As a mother of boys, I see the boys having the sense of manhood and getting out there and doing activities, so I'm torn,” Walker said. “But if I had a daughter I think I'd say ‘absolutely.’”

The National Board of Directors announced Wednesday that effective January 2019 leaders of local packs will have the option to make their Cub Scout program co-ed and create a mirror program of the Boy Scout program for girls.

Larry Brown is the Scout Executive for the Middle Tennessee Council and said the move is a reflection of the changing times.

“What girls and boys do nowadays are similar,” Brown said. “I think when you go on hikes, or you go on activities in the outdoors ,you see a lot of girls. In fact, you see more girls than boys.”

Many councils, like the middle Tennessee council, already feature programs for both genders. Wednesday's decision means girls will be allowed to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Badge for the first time ever.

“I think for men who grew up as scouts, that's an iconic badge for them," Brown said. "It means something. You can't get it in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. You have to spend three or four years working on it, and you have to show leadership."

Both national and local leaders said the decision is primarily in response to families, who want to be able to bring their daughters and sons to the same place. That's something Jessica Walker said she can relate to.

“I was a Girl Scout as a young person, but my mom was a single mom and couldn't afford to bring my brother and I to different events and meetings," Walker said. "So the idea of having one community event that could be appealing and could encourage scouts and families to stick with it.”

Another reason cited for this change is issues with enrollment. The Middle Tennessee Council said that's not the case, and this is the fastest growing council in the entire country.

The council also said it has no plans to actively recruit or compete with the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, saying the two organizations have a great relationship they would like to continue.

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