US & Canada

Boy Scouts of America agree 'inclusive' name change

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Boy Scouts of America has announced it will change the name of its programme for older children as the group prepares to welcome girls.

The Boy Scouts will become known as Scouts BSA in 2019, when the first girls will be admitted to the programme.

The name of the parent organisation, as well as the programme for younger children, Cub Scouts, will not change.

The group's board of directors unanimously voted to open the century-old club to all children in October.

That move was criticised by the Girls Scouts of America, and triggered a fierce backlash online.

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Media captionWhat makes this Girl Scout group special?

"As we enter a new era for our organisation, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible," said Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

He said he wanted to make the scouts more "inclusive".

The group has also launched a campaign to encourage both girls and boys to join.

The Cub Scouts, for ages five to 10, will open its local clubs to all children this year. Boy Scouts, for ages 11 to 17, will follow its footsteps next year, when the name change will become official.

This shift will also give both girls and boys a chance to achieve the high rank of Eagle Scout.

Each chapter will be able to determine if they want to remain exclusive to boys, create all-female groups or establish new mixed-sex "packs".

The Girl Scouts of America, a similar organisation that admits young girls, was deeply critical of the move when it was first announced, telling ABC News the Boy Scouts had not addressed issues of sexual assault and financial mismanagement.

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Media captionOne of the toughest places to be a mother

On Wednesday, Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of America, called her organisation "the premier leadership development organisation for girls" in a statement, but did not make further comment on the Boy Scout shift.

The BSA reports having about 2.3m members in the US, down about a third since 2000, while the Girls Scouts have about 1.8m.

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