History

After years of scandal, Boy Scouts of America changes its name to Scouting America

An Eagle Scout Award is seen pinned to a uniform. After a lengthy sex-abuse scandal and bankruptcy, the Boy Scouts are changing their name to Scouting America.
An Eagle Scout Award is seen pinned to a uniform. After a lengthy sex-abuse scandal and bankruptcy, the Boy Scouts are changing their name to Scouting America.
David Ryder | Getty Images

After being embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal, the Boy Scouts are changing their name. The 114-year old organization known as BSA or Boy Scouts of America will be rebranding as Scouting America early next year.

Boy Scouts of America President Roger Krone announced Tuesday that the name change is part of an evolution as the organization seeks to ensure that everyone feels welcome.

“We are an organization for all. It’s time our name reflects that,” Krone said during a virtual news conference during its annual meeting in Florida.

“Scouting under the name Scouting America will enable us to chart a course towards continued growth, relevance and impact.”

Five years ago, the Boy Scouts opened its programs to girls after allowing LGBTQ youth in 2013, and gay scout leaders in 2015.

“We want to make sure that all youth in America understand that they are welcome in our organization, that this is a safe place for them to learn and grow and to be their authentic self,” said Krone.

The Irving, Texas-based organization emerged from bankruptcy last year after facing more than 82,000 lawsuits from people sexually assaulted by scout leaders as children.

“I think it’s time that we have a game that reflects the youth that we serve today and frankly, the youth that we want to welcome in the future as part of our post-bankruptcy plan for scouting,” said Krone.

The organization, founded in 1910, had been targeted by sexual predators from its earliest days. The Scouts began keeping a secret list of accused predators back in 1919, but the national organization didn’t share the information with local chapters so suspected sexual predators could move from troop to troop.

“It institutionalized child molestation,” former scout Frank Spinelli told NPR in 2021. He was sexually assaulted for 3 years by a scoutmaster starting when he was ten years old. “It’s protected these perpetrators.”

Last year, BSA established a $2.4 billion fund to settle the flood of claims from sex abuse victims.

The Boy Scouts had more than 2 million members in 2018, but currently serves a little over a million youth with 176,234 girls.

“There’s nothing about scouting that is inherently masculine or inherently feminine,” said Bob Brady, scoutmaster of Troop 1150, an all-girls’ BSA troop in New Jersey.

“The name change is exactly what I would advocate,” said Scouts BSA Program Chair Angie Minett, the first woman to hold the position. “The most important message that people need to understand is that it’s [scouting] for everybody.”

The announcement is drawing criticism from conservatives.

“The Left has now taken ‘Boy’ out of ‘Boy Scouts,’” Republican U.S. Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Wokeness destroys everything it touches.”

The new name, Scouting America, will go into effect next February on the organization’s 115th anniversary.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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