Boy Scouts of America changing name to more inclusive Scouting America after years of woes

May 7, 2024, 8:26 AM | Updated: 4:28 pm

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America announced after 114 years that it will change its name and will become Scouting America in an effort to emphasize inclusion as it works to move past the turmoil of bankruptcy and a flood of sexual abuse claims.

The rebrand is another seismic shift for an organization steeped in tradition that did not allow gay youths or girls to begin joining its ranks until relatively recently. Seeking to boost flagging membership numbers, the Irving, Texas-based organization announced the name change Tuesday at its annual meeting in Florida.

“In the next 100 years we want any youth in America to feel very, very welcome to come into our programs,” Roger Krone, who took over last fall as president and chief executive officer, told The Associated Press in an interview before the announcement.

The change will officially take effect on Feb. 8, 2025, timed to the organization’s 115th birthday.

The organization began allowing gay youth in 2013 and ended a blanket ban on gay adult leaders in 2015. In 2017, it made the historic announcement that girls would be accepted as Cub Scouts as of 2018 and into the flagship Boy Scout program — renamed Scouts BSA — in 2019. Over 6,000 girls have now achieved the vaunted Eagle Scout rank.

The Girl Scouts of the USA, a separate organization, has clashed with the Boy Scouts in recent years over its recruitment of girls. The Girl Scouts did not respond to requests seeking comment Tuesday.

A wave of reaction to the change on social media included criticism that the word “boy” will no longer appear in the name, including from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Like other organizations, the Boy Scouts of America lost members during the pandemic, when participation was difficult. After a high point over the last decade of over 2 million members in 2018, the organization currently serves just over 1 million youths, including more than 176,000 girls and young women. Membership peaked in 1972 at almost 5 million.

Generations of scouts have included eventual presidents (among them Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford), astronauts (Buzz Aldrin) and celebrities (actor Harrison Ford, filmmaker Steven Spielberg). Krone said the organization must continue to attract newcomers.

“Part of my job is to reduce all the barriers I possibly can for people to accept us as an organization and to join,” he said.

There were nearly 1,000 young women in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in 2021, including Selby Chipman. The all-girls troop she was a founding member of in her hometown of Oak Ridge, North Carolina, has grown from five girls to nearly 50, and she thinks the name change will encourage even more girls to join.

“Girls were like: ‘You can join Boy Scouts of America?’” said Chipman, now a 20-year-old college student and assistant scoutmaster of her troop.

Rebranding can risk alienating supporters who think the change is unnecessary, said David Aaker, vice chairman of the national branding and marketing firm Prophet. But he described the Boy Scouts’ rebranding as savvy, saying it kickstarts a new conversation about the organization while not being so drastic that it strays too far from its original scouting mission.

“It’s a one-time chance to tell a new story,” said Aaker, who also is a professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley Haas business school.

The move to accept girls throughout the Boy Scout ranks strained a bond with the Girl Scouts of the USA, which sued, saying it created marketplace confusion and damaged its recruitment efforts. They reached a settlement agreement after a judge rejected those claims, saying both groups are free to use words like “scouts” and “scouting.”

Past pressure to allow girls into the Boy Scouts had come from those including the National Organization for Women, which applauded Tuesday’s announcement.

Much of the online criticism invoked the word “woke,” including Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican, who said on X: “Wokeness destroys everything it touches.”

But Lois Alvar, a 20-year-old Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster from the Dallas area, said the new name helps all scouts feel accepted. “Having it nationally recognized that girls are being welcomed and included in scouting allows it to be a more safe space, just in general,” she said.

The Boy Scouts’ $2.4 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan took effect last year, allowing the organization to keep operating while compensating the more than 80,000 men who say they were sexually abused as children while in scouting.

Although the organization won’t officially become Scouting America until next year, Krone said he expects people will start immediately using the name.

“It sends this really strong message to everyone in America that they can come to this program, they can bring their authentic self, they can be who they are and they will be welcomed here,” Krone said.


Kendria LaFleur contributed to this report from Dallas and Jim Vertuno contributed from Austin.

National News

Associated Press

Israel-Hamas war protesters temporarily take over building on University of Chicago campus

CHICAGO (AP) — A group protesting the war in Gaza and demanding that the University of Chicago divest from companies doing business with Israel temporarily took over a building on the school’s campus. Members of the group surrounded the Institute of Politics building around 5 p.m. Friday while others made their way inside, the Chicago […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

US intelligence suggests American who vanished in Syria in 2017 has died, daughter says she was told

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have developed specific and highly credible intelligence suggesting that an American citizen who disappeared seven years ago while traveling in Syria has died, the man’s daughter said Saturday. Maryam Kamalmaz said in an interview with The Associated Press that during a meeting in Washington this month with eight senior American […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Widespread power outages from deadly Houston storm raise new risk: hot weather

HOUSTON (AP) — As the Houston area works to clean up and restore power to thousands after deadly storms that left at least seven people dead, it will do so Saturday under a smog warning and as all of southern Texas starts to feel the heat. The National Weather Service in Houston warned that with […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Man shoots his 6-month-old baby multiple times at home near Phoenix, but child expected to survive

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A man shot his 6-month-old baby multiple times Friday at a home northwest of Phoenix after taking the infant and its mother captive, but the mother escaped with minor injuries and the child was expected to survive, authorities said. They said the status of the suspect remained unknown after a fire […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri candidate with ties to the KKK can stay on the Republican ballot, judge rules

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A longshot Missouri gubernatorial candidat e with ties to the Ku Klux Klan will stay on the Republican ticket, a judge ruled Friday. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Cotton Walker denied a request by the Missouri GOP to kick Darrell McClanahan out of the August Republican primary. McClanahan is running […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

UN experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion oil-backed loan from a UAE company

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say South Sudan is close to securing a $13 billion loan from a company in the United Arab Emirates, despite the oil-rich country’s difficulties in managing debts backed by its oil reserves. The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council that loan documents it […]

18 hours ago

Boy Scouts of America changing name to more inclusive Scouting America after years of woes