SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
This week, the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow girls into its scouting program. Families are figuring out what this week's announcement means. Anna Boiko-Weyrauch caught up with a few parents and Scouts in Seattle.
ANNA BOIKO-WEYRAUCH, BYLINE: For 11-year-old Charlie Underdown, letting girls into Boy Scouts is actually a very Boy Scout thing to do.
CHARLIE UNDERDOWN: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous...
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: He reads from his Scout book. Charlie takes the law to mean you shouldn't exclude anybody.
C UNDERDOWN: They literally have, like, these pledges in the Oath to be kind and courteous and considerate.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: He says keeping people out would be unfair.
PERRY UNDERDOWN: Would you say that doesn't align with our kind of core values as a family?
C UNDERDOWN: Yes.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: Charlie is getting pizza after school with his dad, Perry Underdown, their weekly ritual. Perry was a Boy Scout, and he says it meant a lot to him.
P UNDERDOWN: There was a sense of belonging and having a community and having positive male role models that I could look to the kind of help guide me.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: So when his son was old enough, he signed him up. The Boy Scouts' decision this week to allow girls to participate was in the works for a while. And it's the organization's latest step to stay relevant and accommodate modern families from cultures that value family togetherness and have busy parents and busy kids. Michael Quirk is the scout executive with the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, which runs programs around the Puget Sound region. He says parents have asked for girls programs for decades.
MICHAEL QUIRK: We've always heard a lot of anecdotal stories from parents and leaders saying, gosh, wouldn't it be great if we had a program for our daughter so that we weren't having to run across town for a second meeting of some sort?
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: Next fall, girls who are Cub Scout age, in first through fifth grade, can join a Cub Scout pack or den with other girls. But Quirk says boys and girls will still be separated to some extent.
QUIRK: So there won't be any commingling at this point. So you won't get coed den. It will be a den of all boys or girls.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: The rules will probably look similar for girls ages 10 through 18. They'll be able to join Boy Scout troops starting 2019. Quirk says the details about what that might look like haven't been finalized yet. For some people, the changes just extend their daughters' informal involvement.
KRISTA HOLMES: In a sense, they already are part of Cub Scouts.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: Krista Holmes from Issaquah, Wash., has a son in Boy Scouts and two twin daughters in Girl Scouts. Holmes still volunteers with her son's old Cub Scout Pack, which she says is not just for boys.
HOLMES: Our pack meetings are always family oriented. So the whole family, even extended family, would be invited along to do activities. Like, this month, for our Cub Scout troop, we're having a holiday Halloween bash.
BOIKO-WEYRAUCH: The loudest voices of opposition this week came from the Girl Scouts, saying, quote only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success. Holmes says her girls will stay in Girl Scouts. But if they had had the option earlier, her daughters may have become Boy Scouts. For NPR News, I'm Anna Boiko-Weyrauch in Seattle.
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