The Boy Scouts of America announced late Monday that scouts will now be required to earn a “specific diversity and inclusion” merit badge to become an Eagle Scout.
The announcement comes amid a national discussion about racism and systemic oppression. The BSA national executive council said in a letter that the organization stands with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter,” the letter stated. “This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address.”
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In addition to the inclusion merit badge, BSA also announced several diversity-related changes, including:
- Ensuring the scouting program “promotes racial equality and denounces racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice”
- “Diversity and inclusion” training for all BSA employees and volunteers
- A review of all BSA properties, events, and insignia to “ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future,” including the Confederate flag
“There is no place for racism — not in Scouting and not in our communities. Racism will not be tolerated,” the national executive council said.
The BSA has made several high-profile and controversial decisions over the last decade.
In 2013, the organization voted to allow openly gay scouts — youths under age 18 — into scout troops. Two years later, the BSA reversed its blanket ban on openly gay scout leaders, though it permitted charter organizations, most of which are churches, to prohibit gay leaders.
Then, in 2017, the BSA began allowing “transgender boys” — biological females who choose to live as males — to join the scouting ranks.
Finally, just last year, female youths were permitted to join their male counterparts in official BSA scout troops; the organization also updated its name to “Scouts BSA” to reflect the monumental change.