United Church of Christ Scouting Working Group
Statement of Support of the Boy Scouts of America’s Decision to Welcome Girls into its Membership
On Wednesday, October 11th, 2017, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced a change to its membership policy to allow girls to enroll in the Cub Scouting program beginning in 2018, and to enroll in the Scouting program in 2019. The Cub Scouting program serves families with youth in grades 1-5, and the Scouting program serves families with youth in grades 6-12. This decision was made by unanimous vote of the Boy Scouts of America’s Executive Board.
The BSA’s action to admit girls very much resonates with the mission of the United Church of Christ (UCC), “United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.” The UCC Scouting Working Group applauds this action and offers its support, solidarity and partnership for the implementation of the change to create more inclusive Scouting programs.
As with previous changes to the BSA’s membership policies, including the change to allow LGBTQ youth and adults to enroll and participate in its programs, we understand that this decision was difficult, balancing the perspectives of current and future members. This membership policy change will generate many conversations within our congregations and communities, with many diverse perspectives. We also understand that diversity and inclusiveness are foundational principles of the BSA organization, codified in its definition of the twelfth point of the scout law, “Reverent”:
“Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God.
[They are] faithful in [their] religious duties.
[They] respect the beliefs of others.”
The BSA’s founders engaged diverse faith traditions and community organizations to charter units to serve the needs of the families in their communities, understood that respect for others’ beliefs must be a core guiding principle, and so this definition is repeated in BSA’s Charter and Bylaws as a condition of membership.
We urge our congregations to encourage and support thoughtful, prayerful dialog and accompaniment as the BSA implements this significant policy change to welcome girls, and we call on our churches to encourage and support inclusive scouting programs that welcome girls. We also call on all BSA membership and staff to ensure that all settings of BSA programs, whether unit, district, council, or national, are safe, welcoming, and affirming spaces for girls, and indeed, for all youth and adult members, participants, and staff.
Brian Conn, Chair
on behalf of the United Church of Christ Scouting Working Group