Metro Weekly

Boy Scouts to Drop the “Boy” in a Major, Inclusive Rebrand

The Boy Scouts of America rebranding effort follows policy changes that opened up scouting to LGBTQ individuals.

Boy Scouts – Photo: JV, via Unsplash

The Boy Scouts of America is rebranding itself to be more inclusive of people of different genders and sexual orientations.

On May 7, the 114-year-old Irving, Texas-based organization announced it would change its name to Scouting USA, a nod to its recent expansion and acceptance of girls into its ranks. 

“In the next 100 years we want any youth in America to feel very, very welcome to come into our programs,” Roger Krone, the organization’s president and CEO, told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the announcement.

The name change will officially take effect on February 8, 2025, to coincide with the organization’s 115th anniversary.

For years, Boy Scouts only admitted boys ages 11 to 17. It emphasized service to one’s community, leadership, the teaching of moral values, and life skills that would prepare any scout for adulthood. Membership peaked around 1972 when the scouting ranks swelled to almost 5 million.

By 2018, the organization’s enrollment had fallen to 2 million and proceeded to decrease throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Recruitment efforts were additionally impeded by public revelations that more than 84,000 former scouts had alleged that they were sexually abused as children. Some claims dated as far back as the 1960s.

The organization subsequently reached an $850 million settlement with former victims after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it was beset by various lawsuits related to the scandal.

Amid the declining enrollment, the organization’s flagship program — renamed Scouts BSA — began accepting female members in 2019. (Its affiliated program for younger children, Cub Scouts, began welcoming girls in 2018.)

The organization now boasts just over 1 million members, including more than 176,000 girls and young women.

The organization previously struggled with issues of LGBTQ inclusion.

It eventually lifting a longstanding ban on openly gay scouts in 2013 and allowed transgender boys to participate in 2017.

In what was one of the most contentious issues that the organization ever faced, Boy Scouts lifted a ban on openly gay men serving as adult scout leaders in 2015.

The changes in membership rankled conservatives — especially religious groups and churches — who sponsored many troops across the country. While the organization is officially nonsectarian, members are asked to affirm a belief in God, and many religious centers and church halls serve as meeting places for individual troops.

Due to the admission of LGBTQ scouts, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had been one of BSA’s biggest partners, cut ties. At the time, roughly 20 percent of Scouts were Mormon.

The organization’s attempts to recruit girls sparked backlash from the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, which accused the Boy Scouts of trying to maintain relevancy by poaching potential members from the all-female scouting organization.

The Girl Scouts subsequently sued the Boy Scouts, alleging that the latter party’s use of the word “scouts” and “scouting” violated the Girl Scouts’ trademarks and created marketplace confusion, thereby damaging their recruitment efforts.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, and the two opposing parties eventually reached a settlement regarding trademarks and branding.

Conservatives have lamented that the push to remake and rebrand the formerly single-sex scouting organization is an example of “woke” culture gone rampant.

“Wokeness destroys everything it touches,” U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) wrote on X.

Talk about losing your way—that’s the @BoyScouts,” wrote right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse, who echoed complaints that by embracing females and LGBTQ individuals, the organization had strayed from the values — particularly those rooted in religion — that had once defined it.

“They want to be more ‘inclusive,’ so they’re changing their name. Being woke isn’t the need — staying focused & true to what God calls you to do is what’s important. They should’ve just stuck with what they were founded to be 114 years ago.”

Some conservative parents have since enrolled their sons in Trail Life USA, a Christian, boy-focused scouting organization of about 60,000 members that has billed itself as an alternative for those with more traditional views.

“We are saddened by the scouts’ continued challenge to the truth that boys and girls are different, and remain committed to recognizing the unique design of boys through our proven process that is growing them into godly men,” Mark Hancock, the CEO of Trail Life USA, said of the Boy Scouts’ rebranding efforts.

Scouting America’s communications director, Gordon Shattles, defended the rebranding effort and open admission policies to CBS News, arguing that it would help increase diversity within the ranks going forward. 

“We are opening this up so that we say, really, ‘Scouting is for everyone and we welcome you,'” Shattles said. “However you identify your gender that is not a matter to us. Our concern is how to help you grow as an individual. How we can best serve you.”

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