The organization also noted its support for Black Lives Matter, stating that it was "not a political issue, [but] a human rights issue"

By Rachel DeSantis
June 17, 2020 01:03 PM
Boy Scouts Perry, Austin, USA
Boy Scouts
| Credit: Eric Gay/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Boy Scouts aiming to climb the organization’s ranks will now have to earn a diversity and inclusion merit badge before they can become an Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America announced.

The badge will build upon components already featured in existing merit badges, like the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community badges, which require Scouts to “learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action,” according to a press release.

“There is no place for racism – not in Scouting and not in our communities,” the release said.

It also condemned “the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all those who are not named but are equally important. We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak, and join the country’s resolve to do better.”

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With that in mind, the organization said that starting July 1, it will also require diversity and inclusion training for all employees, as well as a version of training for volunteers to soon follow.

Though the organization has had a ban on the Confederate flag for nearly 30 years, it also said it would review property names, events and insignia to make sure that no symbols of oppression or hate are being used.

“These are our next steps but certainly not our last,” the release said. “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 new commitments come amid years of change for the organization, which in 2018 announced it would drop the word “Boy” from its signature program to make it more gender-neutral after it began allowing girls and transgender children to join.

“I think this is a big deal to the extent that all these traditional, Christian-oriented organizations are trying to get their houses in order with regard to systematic racism,” Alvin Tillery Jr., a political science professor at Northwestern University, told NBC News. “Society is passing them by, and they have to catch up.”

As the outlet notes, Boy Scouts was founded in 1910 and did not integrate until 1974, though it encouraged black men to join as early as the 1920s, with more than 100,000 black boys joining by 1944.