Boys Scouts add new badge for Eagle Scouts

Boy Scouts is taking one of the first major steps to a future equal world. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion merit badge is a new requirement for Eagle Rank merit badge being implemented in the scouting curriculum. It was said to be officially implemented in February of 2021, but due to COVID-19, this date has been delayed. The development for the merit badge’s official introduction to the scouting community is still occurring.

Paul Lee, a 30-year member of the BSA (Boy Scouts Association) and a member of the Cedar Falls Racial Equity Task Force, said, “I think, once the badge has been approved; [the merit badge] will be the next in a long line of the BSA exposing its participants to new exploration. Every merit badge offered by the BSA over the 111 years has been intended to expose youth to critical thinking and exploration of a new topic. This badge will continue in this trend.”

There are currently 21 required Eagle Rank merit badges, and over 135 total merit badges. Although, what makes this new merit badge so different is the way the badge will educate our community and society. Lee said, “I think this [merit badge] will allow the BSA community to re-evaluate personal prejudices and [learn] how to recognize the beauty of true equality in all aspects of our society.” 

Regarding the benefits of the implementation of the new badge, Lee said, “The greatest benefit will be two-fold: First, the implementation of this badge will expose Scouts to a different way of instilling the points of the Scout Law into their lives. Second, this badge will show society how Scouting has continued to be one of the leaders in quality character-based education for over 110 years.” 

He also said that regarding the question of LGBTQ+ involvement on the matter, “Regardless of the status of the implementation of the new merit badge, the BSA has revised its membership standards to allow local chartered organizations to be inclusive of members of the LGBTQ+ community. The BSA’s model for organizing local units gives local chartering organization[s] the ability to model the units they own and govern in the manner that best suits their constituents.”

The development of the merit badge has been in the running for a long amount of time. Lee said, “Actually, this topic has been part of the BSA model for decades. The BSA has a history of being ahead of society in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion, specifically as it pertains to racial/ethnic backgrounds, intellectual/physical disabilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The introduction of this proposed merit badge has been specifically discussed for the past five-six years, far before the current conversation on D.E.I. has been brought forward again.”

Yet, there are many outside-of-school programs that have not implemented a course of action determining diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. When asked about this topic, Lee simply said, “I can’t speak for other organization(s).” The adversity of implementing something like the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion merit badge is something proven difficult, as shown by Paul Lee in the long development of the merit badge initially. The difficulty is what unfortunately is pushing some organizations back.

However, no matter what the background, everyone deserves to be properly represented. Everyone deserves a voice, and everyone deserves a place in our large human society. The BSA, as well as many organizations to come, are developing this idea into our community’s subconscious.

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