The Boy Scouts of America announced on Monday they are standing with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The organization plans to implement a new diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required moving forward in order to become an Eagle Scout.
“As our country reckons with racial injustice, we all must consider our role and our failures and commit to meaningful action,” the BSA statement reads. “We realize we have not been as brave as we should have been because, as Scouts, we must always stand for what is right and take action when the situation demands it. There is no place for racism – not in Scouting and not in our communities. Racism will not be tolerated.”
The organization condemned the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and outlined changes that would be taking effect starting July 1.
These changes included:
- Introducing a specific diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout. It will build on components within existing merit badges, including the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, which require Scouts to learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action.
- Reviewing every element of our programs to ensure diversity and inclusion are engrained at every level for participants and volunteers by applying a standard that promotes racial equality and denounces racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice.
- Requiring diversity and inclusion training for all BSA employees starting July 1 and taking immediate action toward introducing a version for volunteers in the coming months.
- Conducting a review of property names, events and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to build on and enhance the organization’s nearly 30-year ban on use of the Confederate flag and to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.
“The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address,” the statement continued.
“We will also continue to listen more, learn more and do more to promote a culture in which every person feels that they belong, are respected, and are valued in scouting, in their community, and across America. As a movement, we are committed to working together with our employees, volunteers, youth members, and communities so we can all become a better version of ourselves and continue to prepare young people to become the leaders of character our communities and our country need to heal and grow.”
The debate over the Confederate flag and other symbols of slavery and black oppression has burst open in the wake of widespread protests over police abuse of African Americans and specifically the death of George Floyd. Public opinion has shifted dramatically since his killing.
At the U.S. Capitol there are about 11 statues of soldiers or officials who have served in the Confederacy. On June 11, lawmakers introduced a bill that would remove them. It's a call to action happening across the country.
A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, was toppled by a group of protesters in Richmond, Virginia on June 10. It's the second statue to come down in Richmond in just two days.
In addition to these actions, all Confederate flags, bumper stickers and similar items must be removed from Marine Corps bases, Navy bases and sporting organizations such as NASCAR are banning any Confederate symbols from their racetracks.
The Associated Press contributed this report.